Found cat – what to do?

Cats, as free roamers, can travel many miles away from their homes in search of food or while roaming around. Many cats even have set routes that they walk. They like to explore strange houses when doors or windows are open. However, this is why not every cat is homeless that looks at you with a pleading look. Do not give the cat food, because you do not know whether the cat may suffer from allergies and intolerances. Also, do not give the cat milk, but offer it a bowl of water.

How to recognize a cat without a home?

A missing collar with the owner’s address is not an indication of an abandoned cat, because many cat owners do without a collar due to the risk of injury. If the cat is tattooed on the ear or chipped on the body, then a veterinarian can read the chip and notify the owner. Pay attention to the cat’s physical condition. If it is extremely emaciated, this could indicate a missing home. Again, however, the cat could be old or sick, or a well-fed cat could have been abandoned. A stray’s coat is unkempt and shaggy, has bald patches from skin disease, and is infested with parasites. Cats without a home are fearful or aggressive in their behavior. Cats with homes, on the other hand, are trusting and appear well-groomed. If you find the cat in a cardboard box or in a parking lot, you can assume that the cat was abandoned.

Cat found: How do I behave properly?

If the cat meows in front of your door, it can still have an owner, it just knows that people pay attention to it by meowing. Nevertheless, you should not feed the cat, because that is how you really attract the cat. If the cat is injured, you should protect yourself from bites and scratches when catching the cat. Injured animals are often very aggressive. If you do not have the confidence to capture the cat, you can call the local animal emergency service, a veterinarian or the police. If the cat has kittens, do not remove the cat from the location where it was found, as the cat often keeps its kittens hidden. Also in this case, ask for help from agencies responsible for this. Animal shelters and animal welfare organizations offer to catch stray cats, neuter them and deliver them to the shelter. If the cat is lost, you should ask in the neighborhood if someone is missing his cat. A search for the rightful owner can also be started on social media, at the Internet search portals Tasso at and at or at the information board in the supermarket.

Can I keep the cat I found?

If you simply keep the cat, you are liable to prosecution. The offense is: “misappropriation of a lost property” and the rightful owner can later claim damages. Therefore, you must report a lost cat to the local lost and found office according to § 965 BGB. They may take in the cat temporarily as long as the search for the cat’s home continues. First, take the cat to the veterinarian and have it checked for parasites, injuries and illnesses. The vet can also locate an implanted microchip. The owner can then be located by a deposited number. Report the find to the animal shelter or animal control agency. Who pays the veterinarian for a found cat? Here the municipality is responsible. It must bear the cost of medical treatment and provide housing for a found animal. If you pay the costs yourself, you can later claim them back from the owner.

Can I take the cat home with me?

If you want to take the cat with you during the search, you should be aware that the parting can be painful when the owner is found. If you go to work full time and the cat is left to its own devices all day, then a species-appropriate shelter is a better alternative. Living with a strange cat can be stressful, depending on what the cat has experienced. She may scratch the furniture, urinate and mark in the apartment or meow half the night. But if you have experience with foundling cats and a lot of time, you can take care of the cat.

When can I keep the found cat?

If no owner has come forward after six months from the date of notification to the competent authority, you may legally keep the cat. However, within three years after the expiration of the six-month period, the owner can still reclaim the cat. Even years later, cat owners do not give up hope of finding their runaway cat again.

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