How to tell if a cat is a stray?

KittyFriday

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I was raised on a farm where if a random cat came along, it was a good bet it had been dumped. Now I'm in town where there are tons of cats that just free roam (my own cat is indoor only).

I was walking my dog last night and he was acting squirrely - not odd for him really as he's anxious and reactive - but then I noticed it was because a little kitty was following us. Maybe 5-6 months old. I sat on the ground and she came right up to me (she was rightfully wary of Chisum) and she let me pet her and she purred. No collar. I gave her some cheese and hot dogs and suddenly three more cats come from different directions to get a handout, but none of them got close enough for me to tell if they had collars or not.

I've seen this kitty before hanging around my house, but I have no idea if she has a home or not. I could take her in and scan for a microchip and post on message boards that I've found a kitty, but I don't want to make someone angry because I "stole their kitty" while she was outside, and if someone claimed her how would I know she was really theirs? I'd also have a hard time giving her back knowing she'd be right out on the streets again, but I guess that's not up to me.

Anyway, this is all new to me. My friend said I should have taken her in. I said maybe I could if I see her again, which I'm sure I will, but what do you all think?
 
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KittyFriday

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Thanks all! She seemed...fine. Skinny but not starving, and she has short hair so I don't think she'd look poorly groomed either way unless she was ill. I'll keep an eye out for her but for the time being leave her alone. If she doesn't need a home I'm not really itching for another cat right now - nor, I'm sure, are my current cat and dog!
 

jefferd18

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Thanks all! She seemed...fine. Skinny but not starving, and she has short hair so I don't think she'd look poorly groomed either way unless she was ill. I'll keep an eye out for her but for the time being leave her alone. If she doesn't need a home I'm not really itching for another cat right now - nor, I'm sure, are my current cat and dog!

Yes, please do keep an eye on her, cold weather is coming.
 

kittychick

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(your reply just popped up as I was writing this - but I'll go ahead and finish what I was writing, in case you do decide to go any further as far as helping her)
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It sounds like the sweet little thing recognized a kind soul in you! (and the others followed suit!).

There are a few ways to approach this. If she's that young, outside in the cold, AND hungry enough to approach what's basically a stranger, if she IS someone's cat, it doesn't seem like they're doing a very good job of keeping her healthy, happy and safe! That said, I understand your worry about taking someone else's cat (and certainly understand the reluctance to take on another kitty as you mentioned in your last note). If the kitty IS indeed someone else's and they do truly care about her, as long as you make an effort to get the word out that you've got her, I think you're absolutely fine. I usually do flyers in the neighborhood - - if you have a neighborhood - - and give a flyer to local vets and any shelters or spay/neuter clinics, etc., saying that she's safe and to contact you if they think she's theirs. DON'T put a pic of her on the flyer (or too much info about her visually), then if someone contacts you and says she's theirs, explain you're being cautious for the kitty's sake, and ask for something that they could only answer if she's theirs (i.e. four white feet, fixed or not, or some other distinguishing feature). You can also ask who their vet is, and then call and speak to the vet to see if it sounds like one of their client's cats. No one can be mad at you for keeping their kitty fed, safe and warm!

Let us know how it goes - -and if she keeps showing up. Good for you for even caring about this little thing!
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! In case this helps:
 

maggie101

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Gosh, I hope she is fixed hanging around all those other cats. My understanding, a stray cat will eat from a bowl though be cautious of people,some more than others. A feral cat will only hunt for food,never eat from a bow. There are actually nice ones! I took care of a mama cat,feral, and her 2 kittens. She would not eat from a bowl. Only hunt rats,birds,and an opossum. I could put her on my lap and pat her.
 
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Maria Bayote

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You can put up flyers with a black and white photo, not colored. If she has distinguishing marks then don't give it away, only the owner will know about it.

Meanwhile, you can take her in just to ensure her safety. If no one claims, you can bring her to the vet, check for any microchips and have her get her shots as well.

I believe this cat is a stray.
 
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