"Stray" just means that you personally do not know where a cat came from - you do not know if it is owned and allowed outdoors, lost and an owner is desperately missing them, was abandoned, is a feral, or some other situation. If you see a wandering cat in your neighborhood and you do not know the owner, do not ignore the situation but there are a few thing you can do to see if this is cat in actual need of help or just a kitty out for a leisurely stroll. We are not an emergency rescue, but can assist you in finding a safe haven for the cat if it is not owned. CRA believes that it is always safest for friendly pet cats to be living indoors 100% of the time, however it is perfectly legal in Massachusetts for kitties to be allowed outdoors so we just want to make sure that lost/distressed cats receive help while owned/outdoor cats are left alone so no one is worrying about them unnecessarily.
We receive endless calls about stray cats. Without your help, the cats may suffer and be at risk so contact CRA and we will walk you through everything you can do to help. In the meantime here are some steps we strongly recommend that you can take:
If the cat is severely injured or ill, you can take it to the nearest animal hospital (MSPCA Angell Medical Center is open 24/7 if needed)
Please take a quick look at the ears, if you notice an ear tip (examples of what that looks like all over the website, including below) then this means someone is providing food/shelter nearby and this cat is likely part a feral colony they care for. If there is not a medical reason to intervene then please don't, this kitty has already been to the vet for their spay/neuter and vaccines.
For cats not injured and don't seem to be having an issue, the easiest and fastest way to find an owner is to put a paper collar on the cat. Follow the instructions on the template. Most times this paper collar trick will show if there is an owner within a matter of hours if not then try a second cut-out collar in case the first one falls off. If there is no response to this trick then please let us know, it helps everyone do their due diligence to ruling out if there is an active owner for this kitty and you'll often find out their name and what treats they enjoy from their owner and have peace of mind knowing they're well-loved.
Take a photo then contact your town/city animal control, MSPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, and other local animal shelters/rescues for reports of missing cats.
DO NOT POST the cat on Craigslist, but you can search through the lost cat reports on Craigslist. If you think you have found the owner, make sure to have the owner send you a picture of the cat.
Sign up for the free app Nextdoor and post photos of the stray - someone often quickly recognizes him or her or can give clues on who feeds him or her.
If it is safe to take bring the cat inside, confine him/her to a bathroom for the night with water, food, and a litter box. Keep the cat separated from your resident cats and children.
Example of an ear tip
If you look closely, Mr. Grey here is sitting still enough to show that his left ear is tipped. See how the left ear is clipped flat, a bit shorter than his right ear? This is the universal sign that he has already been trapped, neutered, and released. This indicates that a person nearby is caring for him by way of food, water, and likely shelter. If you notice a cat is ear tipped and they look healthy then you can be rest assured that they have already been offered the best possible gift a person could give them - a humane chance to live out their best and longest life since he's been neutered and vaccinated then released back to his known territory after a clean bill of health from a veterinarian. If you want to help feral cats feel free to check out our other page just about ferals on exactly how to do that.