I have friends who recently found a stray cat (who appears to be a little older than a kitten, but not much).

They want to keep her (if she doesn't belong to anyone), but don't know anything about her or how to care for her.

I know how I take care of my cat, so I gave them what advice I could, but since I got my cat as a kitten, not an older cat, I wasn't sure if there was anything in particular they needed to do or to know.

What sort of things do they need to do specifically with this cat they have found?


3 Answers 3


There are several considerations:

Health: A top priority is a visit to the vet to check for any health issues (illness, parasites) and get any immediately-needed vaccines (your vet will advise on this). The vet should also check for a microchip; if for any reason the vet can't check this, call a local shelter and ask where you can have the cat checked.

Do not allow the cat to interact with any other pets in your house before being cleared for health issues by a vet. When I adoped a stray from the street she lived in the basement for a few days, well-separated from everybody else -- not much fun for her, maybe, but better than living on the street or potentially infecting my other cats with something contagious.

Try to find the owner, if one exists and wants to be found: I mentioned checking for a microchip above; other things you can do, as JoshDM mentioned in his answer, are checking for and posting lost-pet notices. It's also useful to call all local shelters and the animal-control division of local government to report the found cat. An owner who's lost a pet will be calling those places, so this maximizes chances of you finding each other.

House prep: If these are their first cats, they'll need to do the "cats 101" stuff -- food, litterbox, removing (or putting away) household hazards, etc. That's beyond the scope of this question.

Integration: If there are other pets in the house, follow the usual practices for gradually introducing the newcomer to them. (I answered a related question about moving house here; I can't find a general "how to introduce cats to each other" question.) If the cat is feral (as opposed to one who was previously a pet) things can be more complicated; see here for some advice.

  • Seconded on keeping the pet quarantined until it's got a clean bill of health from your vet. There are a number of nasty infectious diseases cats can introduce to other cats in a household. @JoshDM - that's horrific. Parvo is a terrible way for a dog to die.
    – Kate Paulk
    Oct 31, 2013 at 11:25

Here are the steps I'd take if I found a kitten and wanted to keep it and wasn't as horrendously allergic to feline dander. Note that several are generic, applicable to any newly "found" pet:

  1. Bring it to a vet to establish a health record and determine if there are any immediately outstanding health issues.
    • Be willing to shell out some $.
  2. The vet should check for the unlikely case the kitten was micro-chipped and therefore has an actual owner who is missing a pet.
    • If you shelled out some $ in the prior step, the actual owner should repay you.
  3. The vet should recommend a strategy to keep the kitten in good health. This would include monthly preventatives, advice on feeding, and other general health concerns.
  4. Observe local lost pet websites if you know any, and check for flyers of a lost kitten.
    • Alternately, post a couple lost kitten flyers where the kitten was found. Kittens are small and this one could easily have escaped from somewhere.
  5. Conform your house to a kitten-owning lifestyle.
    • Decide if the cat is indoors or outdoors (I'd preference indoors).
    • Get the bare-bones necessities for a cat (litter box, place to sleep, minor toy or two).
    • Don't invest too much into it until at least a week passes, in case an owner is found.
    • Do whatever else you need to do now that you own a cat.

When first bringing an outside cat into your home, you need to start by confining them to a small area (like a bathroom) which has a litter box, soft bed, food and water. It may take some time for the cat to get used to being inside and you can help the cat with the adjustment by gradually giving her slightly more access to the rest of the home. This is the tried recommended way of bringing in a cat, but like anything else it all depends on the individual cat and what she's comfortable with. For instance my friends (who had been feeding the feral cat colony for months), one night scooped Corky off the street and she was sleeping in their bed that night.

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