There can be many reasons why someone might believe a cat could be lost or homeless and these aren't always easy to articulate, as often it is simply a gut feeling. With so many missing cats and their families living in hope that one day they will be found, it is important not to ignore that gut feeling.
There are several basic steps you can take straight away to determine if a cat is indeed lost or homeless, but it will depend a lot on how approachable they are. Unless you are worried about their condition, they are behaving in any kind of desperate way, it is a very young kitten or heavily pregnant female, or indeed if you live in a very dangerous location, don't take the cat into your home or feed it. Keep in mind that this may simply be a local cat trying their luck. If the cat is approachable, you can write on a strip of paper your number and a message, such as 'If this is your cat please call'. Attach this, like a collar, around the cat's neck and secure with a piece of tape. If the cat does live locally you should get a call from their owner, but if the cat is still wearing the paper collar after a couple of days with no contact, you can be pretty sure they don't live nearby. If you can, take the cat to any vet to be scanned for a microchip, this is free, or alternatively get in touch with us and we can arrange for one of our scanners to come to you. Take photos if you can and post them on our Facebook group Lost and Found Cats in Norwich and any other local groups.
If the cat isn't approachable, you can still take photos and post them online, and you can try to tempt them with a little tuna or chicken, over time you may be able to win their trust. Alternatively get in touch with us and we can lend you a humane cat trap, so the cat can be scanned. There are many good missing pet sites, where you can post the cat's details for free and in some cases, download a poster which you can put up locally, or in local shops etc.