Author: Amber Cabell, Senior Manager of Operations
What to do when you find a cat.
Did you know that only about 3% of cats brought to shelters are reunited with their families? It is more likely that a cat will be reunited with its owners if left alone. In fact, most of the cats that you see outside are not in need of intervention and should be left where they are. Whether they are friendly neighborhood cats or unsocialized community cats, they are likely to have a caretaker or owner nearby that is providing care for them.
Friendly neighborhood cats most likely have owners in the neighborhood that allow them to roam outside. These cats may wander off to hunt, play, and socialize with other neighborhood cats and people, but almost always return home when they are done. If you are concerned that you may have found a lost cat, the bottomline is that it is just not likely to be returned to their home if brought to a shelter and are, in fact, 13 times more likely to find their home using alternative methods such as filling out a Found Pet Form, having the cat scanned for a microchip, going door to door in your community, and posting lost pet flyers in your neighborhood, on social media, and on lost pet websites.
What is a community cat?
Unsocialized community cats, also known as feral cats, typically have members of the community that provide them with food and help keep an eye on them. These cats live full, healthy and happy lives in their outdoor homes. They have lived the majority of their lives outside and are naturally skilled to find resources such as food and shelter on their own. Studies show that cats that have not been socialized by the time they are 4 months old are less likely to become socialized afterwards. Bringing these cats to a shelter, bringing them indoors, or relocating their outdoor home can be detrimental to their physical and behavioral health. Removing them from the environment they know can cause extreme levels of stress making them more susceptible to illness and more likely to exhibit unwanted behaviors such as hissing, swatting and, in some cases, even biting!
The most humane solution for unsocialized community cats is Trap-Neuter-Return or, TNR for short. There are many resources in our area to help provide TNR services for unaltered cats in your community and our Spay Neuter Clinic offers lost cost spay/neuter for TNR services.
We will always take in found cats that are sick or injured, needing medical care and kittens found in the City of Lynchburg.
As we draw further into kitten season, all shelters will become overflowing with cats and kittens. Having a community that understands why we do not take in stray cats and supports our mission allows us to focus our lifesaving efforts on those that truly need saving: the cats and kittens at risk of euthanasia at other shelters.
To learn more about LHS policy on taking in stray cats and what to do if you’ve found one, please visit our website at https://lynchburghumane.org/i-found-an-adult-cat-now-what/