If you've found a cat that appears to be lost, don't assume he is a stray - he could be a much-loved pet.
If you have found a cat and he looks well cared for, don't just befriend him. Although you may be tempted to put food down for a cat or to adopt him, actually he may not be lost - he could simply be coming in because he is a curious and friendly character.
You may not recognise him because he might belong to someone who has just moved into the area, or he might be newly acquired and just finding his way about. He might have been attracted by your own pets and their food, but remember there is probably someone who is desperately missing that cat!
The first thing you should do is take the cat to your local vet and ask to have him scanned for a microchip - if he is microchipped, it will immediately identify who his owners are, providing their details are up to date.
Put up 'found' notices with his photo and a description and also put notes through neighbours' letterboxes.
Remember some poor desperate pet owner may be terribly missing or grieving for that missing pet, so do as much as you can to help get him home.
Research has shown that 61 per cent of missing cats are found within a mile of their own home. They often turn up in the oddest of places: one cat owner was surprised when her cat was found the other side of town in a cathedral organ pipe; another missing cat had been lost in a large field of maize; and one had been mistakenly locked in a shed with a litter of puppies.
Create a paper collar
If a cat isn't wearing a collar and you're not sure if he's lost, one of the best things you can do is attach a paper collar to him. Click on the collar image below, to download and print out your own Your Cat paper collar.