What to do when you find a lost pet – Part 2
Loose, outdoor cats are unfortunately seen quite frequently in the Georgian Triangle area.
An outdoor cat can fall into several category types:
1. An owned, outdoor cat
Some cat owners opt to let their cats roam outdoors. Depending on the cat’s guardian, cats may be permitted to roam periodically or all the time. In situations like this, it is beneficial to know your neighbours and talk to them about their pets. Some cat owners may not realize that their cat is wandering so far or perhaps even being destructive. Each municipality will have bylaws pertaining to animal ownership and some, specifically pertaining to responsible pet ownership.
2. A stray cat – abandoned or lost cats
It is difficult to tell whether or not a cat has been abandoned or lost. Both types of cats will likely be scared, hungry and in poor condition. Once you have ascertained that the cat needs help, your next step is to call your local humane society or animal shelter. Animal control organizations will have lost and found animal records. Check to see if anyone is missing a cat in your area, a reunion with the owner is the best case scenario!
If an owner is not found then work with your local animal shelter to admit the cat into their facility. Shelters will take in cats as their resources allow. If there is a waiting period, try to provide the cat with a warm and safe place to reside. Boxes and crates can make great houses. If it is the winter, consider offering the cat a spare room in your house. Keep in mind that stray cats could have parasites. If possible, take a homeless cat to your veterinarian prior to bringing into your home. Your veterinarian will be able to microchip scan the cat and provide preventative treatment.
Abandoned or lost cats will sometimes be difficult to catch. Depending on the length of time they have been fending for themselves, they can be shy or leery. The best way to earn a cat’s trust is through their stomach! Feed yummy meals of tuna or canned food and try to pet the cat while it’s eating. Before long the cat will be your best friend.
ALWAYS BE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK LOST & FOUND FORUMS BEFORE FEEDING A STRAY CAT. THIS WILL ENSURE YOU ARE NOT ATTRACTING AN OWNED CAT TO YOUR PROPERTY.
3. A feral cat (wild and untouchable)
A feral cat is a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild, or the descendants of such an animal. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats have never been socialized. The offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild.
Feral cats will often stay at a distance unless they are extremely hungry or injured. Feral cats that are left ear tipped are part of a managed feral cat colony. The left ear tip indicates that the cat has been sterilized through a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program.
If you suspect there is a feral cat on your property your first step is to call your local animal shelter. To be safe, always check lost and found forums. Some lost cats can appear to be feral. If there are no lost reports, your next step is to find out if there is a local TNR group in your area. It is always ideal to sterilize a feral cat to ensure it is not contributing to the population. A fantastic resource on feral cats can be found HERE.
Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Musing on How to Care for a Feral Cat or a Barn Cat in the Winter.