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Home Pet Q&A Cat Questions What Do You Do With An Abandoned Cat?

What Do You Do With An Abandoned Cat?

There are a few options of what you can do with an abandoned cat including adopting him (after speaking with animal control), finding him a new home, or surrendering him to a shelter or rescue. Before doing any of those things, you'll want to make sure the cat is really abandoned. It could be a feral cat or it could be someone's lost pet.

Cats On The Street: Abandoned, Feral, Or Lost? 

It would certainly make things easier if a cat you found could tell you their story. Instead, you have to piece it together using clues from the cat's condition and behavior.

Feral Cats 

Feral cats are those who were born outside and are usually part of a colony. Most of these cats will not make suitable house pets as they have not been socialized and are afraid of people.

There are exceptions to this, but socializing them is a long process, and some cats will never be comfortable around people no matter how much time goes by. While feral cats will not make good house pets, they can be used as mousers in a barn-home-type arrangement.

Clues that you're dealing with a feral cat include:

  • The cat runs when approached.
  • The cat will not meow or purr.
  • You may see the cat in the same place at the same time each day.

Lost Pet 

When a house cat escapes his home, it's possible for him to become disoriented and have trouble finding his way back home. A lost cat will typically be socialized and may approach people for pets or food.

If you find a social cat, bring him to a vet or shelter to see if he has a microchip. You can also check community pages like NextDoor or local Facebook lost pet pages to see if any listed cats match the one you've found.

You should also notify animal control if you think the cat is a lost pet, as that's the first place many pet owners look for a lost cat.

NOTE: In some locations, animal control will require that you hand the cat over to them. If this is the case where you live, and you worry for the cat's safety, make it very clear that you'll take the cat if his home isn't found.

Abandoned Cat 

Many times, abandoned cats are identified by neighbors who know the family moved and left the cat behind. Abandoned cats will often be social, may be hungry (they don't know how to fend for themselves), and hang around the place where they were abandoned waiting for their family to return.

Once you know that the cat is not feral and no pet owners have been located, you'll have to decide what to do with the cat. Your options are:

  • Keep Him: Thanks for being the cat's hero and congratulations on your new family member!
  • Surrender Him: You can leave the cat at an animal shelter and the staff will do all they can to get him adopted. However, the reality is that many shelters have high euthanasia rates—especially for cats. Be sure to do some research before surrendering a cat.
  • Rehome Him Yourself: Taking the time to find a cat a new, loving home is a true act of kindness. Visit the Rehome website for tips and tools that make the process easier. 

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