It is natural to want to help if you find a lost cat. But how can you help, and how do you know if it is a feral cat or someone’s pet? Choosing the right steps is key since you do not want to assume a lost or stray cat is feral.
Feral cat, stray cat, or lost cat?
You need to figure out whether the cat you have found is a stray or lost cat or if it is feral.
A feral cat is a domestic cat that does not have a human caretaker. Feral cats have had no or little contact with humans, and while it may be tempting to “rescue” one, they are quite sufficient at surviving on their own.
A stray cat is a domestic cat who did have a caretaker but has left or lost its home. Strays have had human contact before, though as that contact lessens, they may become feral. Strays are generally a bit more trusting of humans, though, and most can learn to trust again.
A lost cat is a pet who has gotten out. Usually, the owners of a lost cat will be actively on the lookout. You may also see a collar and a tag on the cat, but the lack of a collar does not mean the cat is not lost.
Signs a cat Is feral
It will not approach you and runs away and/or hides when you move toward it.
It avoids eye contact with you.
It does not meow or otherwise vocalise toward you.
It looks clean. (Feral cats do not often “look” homeless since, unlike stray and lost cats, they are adept at taking care of themselves).
If you find a cat who you think is feral, reach out to the Barbados RSPCA.
What to do if you’ve found a stray or lost cat
Unlike feral cats, stray and lost cats can and should be rescued. Here is what you should do.
Get the cat somewhere safe. Grab some cat-safe food and see if the cat will come to you readily. If it does, gently pick it up and bring it inside. Stray and lost cats should be kept separate from any other pets you have, so put it somewhere like a bathroom or spare bedroom where it will not have contact with other animals.
Check to see if there is a missing cat in your area. Otherwise, take the cat to the Barbados RSPCA or veterinarian’s office to have it scanned for a microchip.