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How to Help a Found Cat

Found a cat? Follow this guide to help reunite the cat with the owner, or discover what to do. If you found kittens, jump down to check out our guide for helping found kittens.

What to Do with Lost or Stray Cats

It’s very common for an owned cat (or pet cat) to roam away from home. If the cat seems comfortable approaching you, then it may be someone’s cat. A “community cat” is a term that refers to stray cats or unowned cats living outdoors. Stray cats could be lost or displaced and may be underweight or have dirty coats. Community cats are used to living outdoors, appear healthy and may be getting fed by someone in your neighborhood.

If you find a cat that looks injured or in a harmful situation, please remove them from harm and transport them to one of our no-kill shelter partners. It’s always a good idea to contact the shelter before bringing the cat in. Contact Cincinnati Animal CARE in Cincinnati or the Humane Society of Greater Dayton in Dayton.

If one of the cat’s ears is tipped, that means it’s a community cat who has been spayed or neutered through a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program. A cat with an ear tip is perfectly fine living on its own outdoors, and may already have a caregiver who is giving it food and water. If the cat does not have an ear tip or looks ill/injured and will not let you approach, contact a local shelter about TNR. A volunteer can help you trap the cat safely so it can be taken to a veterinarian for treatment and to be spayed/neutered. Learn more about TNR »

If the cat is comfortable approaching you and does not have an ear tip, it may be someone’s cat. Ask around the neighborhood to see if anyone is missing their pet or if this is an indoor/outdoor pet. 

Bring the cat to a local veterinarian, shelter or fire station so they can use a scanning device to see if the cat has been microchipped. If the cat has a microchip, it will reveal the owner’s contact information.

If you still haven’t found the owner, post your own “found cat” ads around your neighborhood or on social networks like Facebook or Nextdoor. 

Ask local shelters if anyone has reported a lost cat in your area. Many animal shelters are crowded, and may ask you to consider taking care of the cat until the owner is found or they can find the cat a new home. If you have time to foster a cat, this is a wonderful way to give back.
Learn more about fostering »

What to Do with Lost or Stray Cats

It’s very common for an owned cat (or pet cat) to roam away from home. If the cat seems comfortable approaching you, then it may be someone’s cat. A “community cat” is a term that refers to stray cats or unowned cats living outdoors. Stray cats could be lost or displaced and may be underweight or have dirty coats. Community cats are used to living outdoors, appear healthy and may be getting fed by someone in your neighborhood. If you find a cat that looks injured or in a harmful situation, please remove them from harm and transport them to one of our no-kill shelter partners. It’s always a good idea to contact the shelter before bringing the cat in. Contact Cincinnati Animal CARE in Cincinnati or the Humane Society of Greater Dayton in Dayton.
If one of the cat’s ears is tipped, that means it’s a community cat who has been spayed or neutered through a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program. A cat with an ear-tip is perfectly fine living on its own outdoors, and may already have a caregiver who is giving it food and water. If the cat does not have an ear tip or looks ill/injured and will not let you approach, contact a local shelter about TNR. A volunteer can help you trap the cat safely so it can be taken to a veterinarian for treatment and to be spayed/neutered. Learn more about TNR »

If the cat is comfortable approaching you and does not have an ear tip, it may be someone’s cat. Ask around the neighborhood to see if anyone is missing their pet or if this is an indoor/outdoor pet. 

Bring the cat to a local veterinarian, shelter or fire station so they can use a scanning device to see if the cat has been microchipped. If the cat has a microchip, it will reveal the owner’s contact information.

If you still haven’t found the owner, post your own “found cat” ads around your neighborhood or on social networks like Facebook or Nextdoor. 

Ask local shelters if anyone has reported a lost cat in your area. Many animal shelters are crowded, and may ask you to consider taking care of the cat until the owner is found or they can find the cat a new home. If you have time to foster a cat, this is a wonderful way to give back.
Learn more about fostering »

What To Do if You Find Stray Kittens

If the kittens do not look well, call a local animal shelter for help right away. If they seem healthy, continue on to the next step.

It’s very important to estimate the age of the kittens to help you determine the right next steps. Newborn kittens that are younger than 8 weeks old are very dependent on their mother and should be left alone unless they are sick, injured or in danger. Separating them from the mother cat can be very harmful to their wellbeing and survival. Here’s how to help determine their age: 

0-2 weeks: Eyes closed or barely open

2-4 weeks: Eyes open and alert, and becoming mobile

4-6 weeks: Very mobile and talkative; can eat food

6-8 weeks: Very active and playful; weighing around 1-2 pounds

8+ weeks: Very active and playful; weighing 2 pounds or more 

For kittens less than 8 weeks old: If you see a mother cat or what appears to be a nest, the kittens’ best chance of survival is to leave them where they are. You can help by making sure the mother cat and kittens have access to shelter, food and water. Contact a local shelter about Trap Neuter Return (TNR), a program that will have the mother cat spayed and kittens fixed when they are ready.
Learn more about TNR. »

No sign of the kittens’ mom? Keep an eye out a little longer, as she may be off hunting or could be hiding from you. To help you figure it out, leave a ring of flour around the kitten nest. Check in a few hours if you see the mom’s paw prints are in the flour. If there’s still no sign of a mother cat, call your local animal shelter.

For kittens over 8 weeks old: They are most likely weaned from their mother, meaning they don’t rely on her milk and can eat on their own. In this case, you can take the kittens in or try to find them a new home. If you can’t place them, call your local animal shelter for help. They may be able to take in the mother and kittens or will have them spayed/neutered with TNR.

What To Do if You Find Stray Kittens

If the kittens do not look well, call a local animal shelter for help right away. If they seem healthy, continue on to the next step.

It’s very important to estimate the age of the kittens to help you determine the right next steps. Newborn kittens that are younger than 8 weeks old are very dependent on their mother and should be left alone unless they are sick, injured or in danger. Separating them from the mother cat can be very harmful to their well-being and survival. Here’s how to help determine their age: 

0-2 weeks: Eyes closed or barely open

2-4 weeks: Eyes open and alert, and becoming mobile

4-6 weeks: Very mobile and talkative; can eat food

6-8 weeks: Very active and playful; weighing around 1-2 pounds

8+ weeks: Very active and playful; weighing 2 pounds or more 

For kittens less than 8 weeks old: If you see a mother cat or what appears to be a nest, the kittens’ best chance of survival is to leave them where they are. You can help by making sure the mother cat and kittens have access to shelter, food and water. Contact a local shelter about Trap Neuter Return (TNR), a program that will have the mother cat spayed and kittens fixed when they are ready.
Learn more about TNR »

No sign of the kittens’ mom? Keep an eye out a little longer, as she may be off hunting or could be hiding from you. To help you figure it out, leave a ring of flour around the kitten nest. Check in a few hours if you see the mom’s paw prints are in the flour. If there’s still no sign of a mother cat, call your local animal shelter.

For kittens over 8 weeks old: They are most likely weaned from their mother, meaning they don’t rely on her milk and can eat on their own. In this case, you can take the kittens in or try to find them a new home. If you can’t place them, call your local animal shelter for help. They may be able to take in the mother and kittens or will have them spayed/neutered with TNR.

Found Kittens Handout

Don’t kit-nap! Spread the word about what to do with kittens with this helpful handout from Cincinnati Animal CARE.