If you have found a stray cat, our advice is very different than finding a stray dog.
Please email or call us with questions after reading.
Remember that cats are classified as “free-roaming creatures” under Virginia law.
If the cat looks healthy and is friendly, it is most likely an indoor/outdoor cat that is cared for by someone nearby. Taking a cat to your local Animal Control facility is generally not the best idea, as it actually decreases the chance of a cat being reunited with its owner. Taking “stray” cats to a local Animal Control also increases the chances of euthanasia for another cat already there, as many Animal Control shelters operate at capacity.
Assess whether the cat is truly a domesticated stray cat, or a feral cat. Domesticated stray cats enjoy the company of humans and often depend on them. Feral cats are self-sufficient and fearful of humans. Feral cats do not need human intervention to survive. It is almost impossible to socialize a feral cat and make him/her comfortable with humans. Feral cats who end up in animal shelters are almost always euthanized, as they are not socialized and are thus not adoptable.
Click here for more information on the difference between feral cats and domesticated pet cats.
If you are sure the cat is a domesticated stray cat and not a feral cat, and the cat appears well cared for, your help is probably not needed. TAKING A STRAY CAT TO AN ANIMAL SHELTER IS NOT RECOMMENDED. More than 60% of “lost” cats return home on their own if they are left outside. If they are taken to an animal shelter, they are much less likely to be reunited with their families.
If you are able to, you can take the cat to a local veterinarian or animal shelter, where they will scan for a microchip. Microchips contain information on the owner of the cat and are usually the best way to reunite a truly lost cat with its family.
Call Animal Control in the county in which you’ve found the cat to file a “found animal” report.
Stafford Animal Control: 540-658-7387
If it is after-hours, call the non-emergency number for Stafford County Sheriff’s Office: 540-658-4400. But follow up with a call directly to Animal Control the next morning.
We at the Stafford SPCA are rarely able to take in strays because we usually operate at capacity.
Call us to file a found animal report, and to see if we have a lost report that may match. Or fill out the form below:
Stafford SPCA: 540-657-7387
Click here for Found Animal Report
Create a flyer to post around your neighborhood, or the area where you found the animal. Be sure the flyer includes a good picture, pertinent information, and your contact information.
Remember, if you are unable to keep the stray cat inside your house, it is better to leave the cat outside to allow it to return to its home on its own. More than 60% of “lost” cats return home on their own if they are left outside.
Click here for more information on lost cats, indoor/outdoor stray cats, and feral cat communities.