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What to do if you find a cat you think is lost

We receive a lot of phone calls every single day from members of the public about cats they see that aren’t familiar to them and they aren’t sure what to do about it. However, just because you haven’t seen them before doesn’t mean they are lost.

If you discover a cat you don’t recognise or think it needs help then firstly go and read our article on Found Cats here: http://sunnyharbour.org.uk/lost-found/found-cat-advice

This will guide you through all the steps you need to take to trace an owner or get the cat to safety.

We cannot stress strongly enough that you cannot just pick up a cat in your garden and take it off to a rescue centre or elsewhere without first of all trying the things in this article to try to find an owner or feeder/responsible person.

If you don’t make an attempt to do these things before lifting the cat your actions could be construed as theft.  It is for these same very reasons that Sunny Harbour cannot just come out and lift all cats that are reported to us.

Please use our guide on identifying lost or stray cats here:


We cannot just lift cats just because you say:

–  You think it ‘looks’ lost
– You have been feeding it and it won’t go away now and is being a nuisance.
– it’s been spraying in your garden
– You haven’t seen it before
– it’s sitting on your window trying to get to your unspayed female.
– You picked it up and took it home.

Sunny Harbour can only remove a cat immediately in situations where there is:

A- a clear sign of distress, injury or neglect

B – confirmed attempts by the finder to locate an owner in the local area and no such owner or responsible person is found.

C- Evidence that not taking action will cause the cat(s) to endure distress, injury or neglect.

We hope these guides will help you to identify those cats in genuine need versus the cat from a couple of streets away having a wee wander and being a chancer!

If you have gone through the steps detailed in this guide or, are unsure of how to put them into practice then give Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue a call on 0300 330 1412

We are here to help and will always take in and prioritise injured, distressed or stray cats found, where we have the housing space available to do so.

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