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Starting in November 2019, we are asking citizens to make an appointment before they bring us healthy lost, stray or feral cats. For guidelines, visit our Scheduled Intake page.

As a general rule, if you have found a healthy cat, it’s almost always best to leave it where it was found or take it to a vet to have it checked for a microchip. 

Lost cats are 10 times more likely to be reunited with their owner or caregivers if they are left where they were found than if they are removed and taken to a shelter(1).

(1) Source: Alley Cat Allies. Chu, K. and W. M. Anderson (2007).

Other types of cats such as feral cats, owned outdoor cats or community “stray” cats, can also usually be left where it was found as they are used to being or living outside. 

If you still think the cat should come into the Animal Care & Control Centre (ACCC) and the cat looks healthy, call 311 to schedule an appointment. Intake guidelines and information on whether a cat needs immediate care can be found on the Scheduled Intake page.

Feeding stray cats is not recommended. If there is a food source, cats will stay and will attract other cats or other unwanted wildlife to the area.

Cat Characteristics Guide and What to Do Next

If you have found a healthy cat and think it may need to come in, a helpful first step is to determine what kind of cat you have found by using the Cat Type Guide below. Because Edmonton has both a large feral cat population and a substantial population of domestic cats that roam on public property, it can be difficult to determine how best to help a cat that appears lost.

These categories do not have solid boundaries and one cat can often fit into several categories. Understanding the differences helps determine what care a particular cat requires.

Owned Lost Cats
Characteristics
  • Are not accustomed to the outdoors; often found hiding, scared, hungry and difficult to approach
  • Will not have roamed too far from its home
  • Start to lose weight over time; their coats will begin to get dull/matted and unhealthy looking
  • Often have injuries such as scratches, breaks or frostbite

 

What To Do Next
  • Owned lost cats are 10 times more likely to find their way home if left in their neighbourhood than if they are brought to a facility.
  • Owned lost cats should only be brought to ACCC if they are injured, in distress, or unhealthy or meet any of the other criteria for priority intake. 
  • If they look healthy, it is best to monitor the cat’s situation for a few days and talk to neighbours. If it begins to look distressed, either bring it to ACCC immediately or schedule an appointment. Call 311 for advice if you are unsure.  Keeping this cat in your home is unnecessary and significantly reduces its chance of ever returning home. 
  • Consider putting up a Lost Cat poster around the community 
  • If you can, put a temporary cat collar on the cat. (Paper collars are a great way to check if the cat you are worried about has a home. 
  • Placing something with their scent outside to help guide them home.
  • Consider posting pictures on social media such as Edmonton Lost Pets and Edmonton and Area Lost Pets Facebook pages.
  • Check to see if the cat has been listed as lost on the City of Edmonton's Animal Care & Control Centre's Facebook page as well as other community social media pages and sites such Kijiji and Craigslist.
     
Owned Outdoor Cats
Characteristics
  • Will be familiar with roaming outdoors and are comfortable in their surroundings
  • Will be in healthy condition and are likely very friendly and approachable
  • Roam large territory and may have specific places they visit often

 

What To Do Next
  • A cat with a collar and a bell is often a good sign that its owners know it is out.
  • Owned outdoor cats should only be brought to ACCC if it is injured, in distress or unhealthy, or meet any of the other criteria for priority intake.
Community Cats or "Stray Cats"
Characteristics
  • Once lived in a home but were lost, abandoned or otherwise forced to survive on their own. Their behaviours are somewhere between owned outdoor cats and feral cats
  • May still be approachable but are likely more skittish and no longer used to being picked up or handled
  • May form small colonies or live by themselves
  • May have adapted to outdoor life quite well and be in healthy condition
What To Do Next
  • These cats should be monitored and only brought to ACCC if they are injured, in distress or unhealthy, or meet any of the other criteria for priority intake
  • Rehabilitation into a new home may be possible in some circumstances but should be done through the proper process
Feral Cats
Characteristics
  • Are born wild or have not had human interaction for a significant period of time
  • Are completely self-sufficient and rarely have injuries, frostbite or are malnourished
  • Do not allow themselves to be handled or touched by humans and will back away or run when approached
  • Remain fairly hidden and are nocturnal in nature, living in colonies in one territory with a sufficient source of shelter, food and water
What To Do Next

Healthy adult feral cats should not be brought to ACCC as they cannot be rehabilitated into domestic cats.  

  • They should only be brought to ACCC if they are injured, in distress or unhealthy, or meet any of the other criteria for priority intake.
  • Feral kittens can be brought in up to approximately three months of age by appointment once they are no longer dependent on their mother’s milk.
  • Feral cats should be redirected to Trap-Neuter-Return programs that provide sterilization, vaccination and return to the location where they were found. Consider becoming part of ACCC’s Public Trap-Neuter-Return program. If you live on an acreage, consider participating in our Barn Buddies Program.
     

Nuisance Cats

Current bylaws permit owned cats to be outdoors, as long as they are not a nuisance on private property. If you have a cat that is being a nuisance on your property, consider renting a cat deterrent kit or try one of these ideas to make your property less inviting to cats before scheduling an intake appointment. 

Kittens

When we find a litter of tiny kittens, our good-hearted instincts tell us to rush to the aid of these fragile felines.  Thankfully, just like a baby hare, human intervention is typically not required.  The best thing you can do is leave them alone and wait for mom to return until they are self-sufficient.

If mom does not return within eight hours, or they are self-sufficient, they need your help.  Not to worry though, there are many options to help them
 

It is against the criminal code to keep or re-home a lost animal.  If found within City of Edmonton limits, please contact 311 to schedule an admission appointment.

Note: If it is after business hours and the cat is in distress or injured, please take it to Guardian Veterinary Centre as they offer 24-hour emergency service and receives lost pets on the City’s behalf.  This service is for emergency cases only

For More Information

Animal Care & Control Centre

13550 - 163 Street
Edmonton, AB

Facility information and hours

Telephone

In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

Fax 780-496-8824
Email 311@edmonton.ca

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