It wasn't the lost cat she was looking for...
October 29, 2006 10:37 PM   Subscribe

I 'rescued' a cat off the street today because it looked just like a cat I saw on a 'lost cat' poster. The missing cat's owner just came by and said it wasn't the right cat. Now what?

The cat that I found isn't flea-bitten or anything, but it has clearly been without a bath for some time. Neighbors said it had been hanging out on their street for a couple of weeks, with various neighbors feeding it (I live about a quarter of a mile away). The cat has no collar. I'm not sure if it's a stray, but I'd guess so, given its unwashed state.

I only picked it up because it was a dead ringer for the cat on the poster, and now I am at a loss for what to do. I can't keep the cat at my apartment more than a night or two. Should I take the cat to animal rescue, or should I release it where I found it? Is there a third option?

If the cat I have wasn't really lost in the first place, I don't want to bring it to the pound and put it in danger of being euthanized. At the same time I'm loathe to release the cat back to the mean city streets if it really is lost. What should I do?
posted by nyterrant to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Response by poster: Ah, I edited out the fact that this is in San Francisco.
posted by nyterrant at 10:39 PM on October 29, 2006

put up found cat posters?
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 10:47 PM on October 29, 2006

Best answer: San Francisco SPCA is no kill [exceptions for very ill or very aggressive animals], and also has a feral cat rescue program.
posted by judith at 10:48 PM on October 29, 2006

Best answer: I think San Francisco has a no-kill policy. You should take the cat to the SF City Animal Care & Control. People that lose pets register there and are reunited with pets that are turned in. Pets that are abandonned and not adopted through them, but are still adoptable, are transferred to the SPCA where they remain, apparently until someone gives them a home. From what I read though, the SPCA doesn't take a lot of pets directly from the public. Most of the animals they place come from ACC.

I guess you might post a sign in your neighborhood first, for as long as you can keep the cat, but after that I think you should bring it in to the city and let them sort it out.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:58 PM on October 29, 2006

If it doesnt belong to anyone, maybe you should keep it :)
posted by DudeAsInCool at 12:24 AM on October 30, 2006

Scruffy appearance aside, the cat might have a microchip and an owner. Take it to any vet and they'll scan him. If it's an unfixed male, please find a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and have him (or her) fixed. Have your vet do a blood test to make sure it's healthy. Give him/her a bath. Beg and plead with everyone you know to adopt it. Best wishes.
posted by lois1950 at 12:34 AM on October 30, 2006

My stray has been the light of my life. I have bent several rules for the sweet little boy. I vote keep the kitty. You would be surprised just how much they change you (for the better!).

If you have allergies, the SF SPCA link has some advice on living with kitty and allergies (under feral rescue). Be careful putting up posters, as there are scumbags out there who will take the cat as if it is theirs and then do some sick shit. Many SPCA locations have volunteers who call theose numbers all day long to tell you to be careful of the sickos.

Best to go to a vet like lois1950 says. They can direct you from there.

One note: when find yourself a feral program, buy some karma and give them a chunk of cash (the lady I know that does feral rescue asks for around 50 bucks when she adopts a cat). They need that money like no one's business.
posted by oflinkey at 5:09 AM on October 30, 2006

You don't have to keep it and you don't have to try and manipulate all your friends into taking it. It will be fine at a shelter. It sounds like your local shelters are no-kill, and they will do the bath and ballsnip and scan for a microchip.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:17 AM on October 30, 2006

The Feral Cat Coalition recommends that you spay/neuter feral cats, and return them to their territories, so that they become non-breeding competitors in the area, and damp the proliferation of still more feral cats. Sounds like a responsible position that meets your "third option" desires.
posted by paulsc at 5:20 AM on October 30, 2006

I wouldn't do as paulsc suggests in this instance. I do agree with the neuter/release programs. I just think non-feral cats shouldn't be subjected to this, they should have a chance to live in a home. Since you were able to catch the cat without much trouble, that means it's used to people and would probably be a good pet. It also means it's much more likely that it was someone's pet and they left it behind when they moved (you'd be surprised how often people do that). If it were a true feral cat, you would have never caught it without a trap.

Take the cat to a shelter. Don't forget to donate a couple of bucks, it costs money to shelter a cat!
posted by Spoonman at 6:08 AM on October 30, 2006

As someone whos lifelong indoor/outdoor cat was stolen by a well-meaning neighbor's housesitter last month, I'd urge you to please please put up 'found cat' signs in your neighborhood, check your local shelter's online lost pet reports as well as the lost-and-found section of the local Craigslist, and anything else you can think of. What looks like a wild cat to you may actually belong to someone who is taking care of it, and the least you can do is check for lost pet reports in the usual places before assuming it's a stray.

[yeah, I got my cat back, but it would have been days instead of two weeks if the housesitter had bothered doing any of the things above]
posted by mediareport at 6:45 AM on October 30, 2006

If you cannot find the owner and keeping the cat is not an option, I can recommend Hopalong Rescue. They will have the cat fostered until it can be permanently placed.
posted by padraigin at 7:36 AM on October 30, 2006

Any concerns about weirdos responding to "Found Cat" posters can be avoided by simply asking the caller to describe the cat they're missing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:47 AM on October 30, 2006

Best answer: Or you could kill both birds with one stone and avoid the weirdos by just putting up posters explaining that this particular "found cat" has been dropped off at [LocalShelter].
posted by cribcage at 9:13 AM on October 30, 2006

Nth the shelter. You found a scruffy collarless cat roaming the streets and eating via the kindness of strangers. Taking it to the pound where it will hopefully be adopted by someone who cares enough to chip & collar it and keep it inside is the best thing you can do for it.

Even if it's not a no-kill shelter sometime you just have to think about the well-being of other animals (including people) in the local ecosystem. That poor cat didn't ask to be born but neither will any kittens it sires/births. Running loose it not only risks disease, fleas and non-fatal but horridly painful encounters with dogs & cars but it also can cause suffering for other people and animals through spreading fleas, feline leukemia, F-HIV, worms and more.
posted by phearlez at 9:53 AM on October 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I've decided to take the wayward cat to Animal Care & Control. The cat is definitely a house cat, and not feral. That said, it's pretty dirty, and people on the street where I found it said they hadn't seen it before, so I'm about 80 per cent certain it was a stray. Once I return it, I'll put up some posters saying I found a cat and dropped it at the shelter. That seems to be the best way to go, since I can't keep the cat for another night at my place.

Now there's just the matter of transporting the Mr Bigglesworth to the shelter. It should be an interesting cab ride.
posted by nyterrant at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2006

Please also check local shelters' online lost pet listings, and post your "found cat" description there as well. You'll get much wider coverage and dramatically increase the chances of finding out if it was a beloved member of someone's family that somehow lost its way (and perhaps wandered in from an area where your posters won't be seen).
posted by mediareport at 9:36 PM on October 30, 2006

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