Found a Kitty
Unfortunately, our rescue is unable to take in every found kitty. This animal may already have an owner and by state, county, and local laws every attempt must be made to locate the possible home of the found kitty. After an owner search is performed and no owner is found, we do take in a small number of strays from the streets on a case-by-case basis when we have space available which includes securing a foster home and funding for the kitty. Please be aware that our rescue does not accept unsocialized feral cats. We recommend feral cats be sterilized and returned to their colony as part of TNR.
An assessment must be made of found kitty to determine the best solution for this animal. Certain factors like age, health condition, and level of socialization to humans need to be taken into account. Any animal that looks sick or injured will need to be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Please exercise great caution in handling an animal until you have fully accessed its level of human socialization.
- Young kittens – In assessing young kittens, seek to address the following: Do these young kittens appear healthy? Are they are clean, well-kept, and fat in appearance? If the answer is yes, then they probably have a mother cat who is caring for them. She is most likely off hunting or hiding from you. Please resist the urge to touch them and do not kidnap the kittens away from their mama. Newborn kittens require around-the-clock care. Young kittens depend on their mother’s milk from birth up to eight weeks. Kittens at that age depend on their mother’s milk. The mother cat will not return for her babies when you are hovering around and may reject them if they smell different. From a safe distance, keep an eye out to see if the mother cat returns for her kittens. If the young kittens look dirty, malnourished, or have eye infections, then they probably do not have a mama cat caring for them and they will need your intervention. If they are in really bad shape, please get them to the veterinarian immediately. If taking the young kittens, please do not leave the mother cat behind as she will need to be spayed so that she does not continue to breed more kittens.
- Older kittens – In assessing older kittens, keep in mind that kittens can be socialized to humans but the socialization window is at an early age (4 months of age and younger). Any kittens over 4 months of age that have not had human contact are most likely feral and will be more difficult to socialize. They will benefit from being sterilized and returned to their colony as part of TNR.
- Adult cats – In assessing an adult cat, it is important to determine if the cat is feral or stray. A feral cat is an unsocialized, domestic cat that has not experienced contact with humans and a stray cat is a lost or abandoned pet that has been socialized with humans. Any adult cat determined to be feral will benefit from being sterilized and returned to their colony as part of TNR. A stray cat might have an owner and by state, county, and local laws, the steps outlined below will need to be taken to search for the possible owner.
Here are some great instructional videos and materials:
- Instructional video on what to do if you find a kitten and how to make the right call – Kitten Lady
- Finding a kitten outdoors and the differences between feral and stray cats – Alley Cat Allies
- What to do if you find kittens – Community Cats Podcast
- Assessing kittens and how to determine a kitten’s age – Kitten Lady
As the finder of the stray cat by state, county, and local laws, you must make every attempt to locate the original owner. This kitty may have family desperately searching for it and your efforts could help reunite them.
- Take the cat to a veterinarian or Banfield PetSmart to be scanned for a microchip. This service is at no cost.
- Check with the neighbors in the area where you found the cat to see if anyone recognizes the cat.
- Make lost cats signs to post around the area where the cat was found. Check out neon posters for information on creating a pet poster.
- Search online and get the word out using PawBoost, Lost Cats Georgia, Petco Love Lost, Lost My Kitty, Helping Lost Pets, Facebook Lost & Found Pet groups listed by local counties, and Next-Door in the area where the cat was found.
- Call local area veterinary offices to see if they recognize the cat.
- If the cat does not have a collar, you can attempt to locate the owner by using the paper collar method.
- If you bring the cat inside while searching for the owner, it is important to keep the animal isolated from your resident pets because the found cat might have parasites and you do not want to risk exposing your pets.
Local County Animal Services
By county law, you will need to report the stray cat in the county in which it was found so the owner has the opportunity to reclaim the lost pet. In Georgia, pets are considered property and it is unlawful to rehome a found pet without it waiting a stray hold period at the local county animal shelter.
Some shelters will let you keep the animal while you search for the owner and most county shelters have simple online forms available for filing a found pet report, just need to provide the address or intersection where you found the cat. If the owner does not claim the cat after the mandated stray hold period, by county law the cat is able to rehome or transfer to a rescue organization.
Cherokee County Animal Shelter – requires the completion of a lost and found form (including a photo) that will be emailed to the shelter’s intake department. The staff will create a lost report with the information you submit. They require a 3-day hold but the animal may remain with the finder during this time.
Cobb County Animal Services – requires you to report a found animal but you are allowed to house the animal for 5 business days while attempting to locate the original owner. Strays are held for 5 business days.
Dekalb County Animal Services – can request to be a friendly finder and keep the stray in your home for 5 days to increase the chances of finding an owner nearby. By doing so, you will keep a pet out of the shelter and save space for other animals in need. They will provide the pet vaccines, a microchip, and supplies as well as take a photo of the animal for their website.
Forsyth County Animal Services – requires completion of a found animal form. The shelter will hold stray animals for 5 days. After that period of time, they may be made available for adoption or transferred to a rescue group partner.
Fulton County Animal Services – can request to be a friendly finder and keep the stray in your home for 5 days to increase the chances of finding an owner nearby. By doing so, you will keep a pet out of the shelter and save space for other animals in need. They will provide the pet vaccines, a microchip, and supplies as well as take a photo of the animal for their website.
Gwinnett County Animal Services – if you have found a stray animal, contact them directly. Lost pet flyers can be placed at the Bill Atkinson Animal Welfare Center. Staff is available to provide online resources for lost pets.