A cat who looks healthy with good body condition and coat is very rarely lost. Millions of pet cats are indoor/outdoor; we might not know where that cat lives, but good body condition tells us the cat knows where home is and will make its way back on its own. Even cats who are actually lost are 10–50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood where they are found (instead of being removed from the area and taken to an animal shelter).
If the cat looks healthy, please put it back where you found it/leave it where it is. Refer to this I Found a Cat flowchart for more guidance. If you believe the cat is truly lost, here’s how you can help:
- Wait a day or two to offer food, as extra feeding can discourage cats from going back home on their own.
- Play detective—ask around your neighborhood to see if anyone recognizes them. If the cat is friendly, use this paper collar template to help determine if the cat is owned.
- Post a photo and description of the animal on social media. Some options include: NextDoor, Craigslist, Petco Love Lost, PawBoost, and surrounding neighborhood Facebook groups and local “Lost & Found Pets of [CITY NAME]” Facebook pages.
- Create a Found Pet flyer and post it in the neighborhood or distribute it to doorsteps of homes nearest where the cat was found. Don’t think in terms of street travel—cats don’t!—think distance, or “as the crow flies,” and post flyers on all the major streets that transverse your neighborhood.
- Animals don’t know city limits, and it’s possible they may have been relocated from out of City of Oakland, so file a found report with other shelters in the area and visit our Resources page for additional hints and tips to increase the chance of getting your pet back home.
- Check for ID tags or bring the cat to a vet to have it scanned for a microchip and, if needed, visit www.petmicrochiplookup.org to enter the microchip number and find the owner.
If you are unable to locate an owner, you may bring the found cat to the shelter. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, OAS is open by appointment only. To make an appointment, please call during business hours.