I have found a stray cat. What do I do?

If it is injured phone a vet for advice on how to safely pick it up to obtain treatment. Next, make sure it is a stray by advertising locally and speaking to neighbours. Please take it to a veterinary surgeon or a charity clinic in your area so that it may be scanned for microchip identification and treated if unwell. Do not expect the veterinary surgery or the charity clinic to take the cat in. If the cat is healthy or when treatment has been given, contact us (ok if the cat is still on medication) if you are in London or within reasonable distance of London. If you live further away, please contact a rescue group in your own local area.

What’s the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?

A stray cat is simply a cat which has lost its former home. It may be friendly or it may be shy/timid. A true feral cat has never had a home. It was born outside and has never socialised with humans. Ferals are wild animals and need expert help to be trapped, neutered and treated if unwell. They cannot be tamed into pets unless caught within the first few weeks of life. Some cats who have lost their home early in life go wild and live the feral life. These cats can be tamed with a lot of time and patience but they are likely to remain very timid. Feral cats do a valuable job keeping down the rat population. Never attempt to pick up a cornered feral cat; you are likely to be badly injured. If you are concerned about a feral cat or feral colony, please contact The Celia Hammond Animal Trust. Do not contact the larger well known animal charities, they are likely to kill them.

I can no longer keep my cat. What can I do?

Contact Paws for Life; we will help if we can. If your cat is elderly (over 12), disabled or has a chronic health problem we are pleased to help, but please do not lie about your cat’s age or health. It will not make any difference as to whether we can help you – we take in cats of all ages and health status. Lying will just make it more difficult for us to find the right home for your cat. We will need as much information about your cat as you can give us, and you will be expected to give a donation towards any veterinary treatment and the care of your cat until a new home is found. We may ask you to keep your cat until we have a space with a temporary carer or have found a permanent home.

Are 9 Lives and Paws for Life cats kept in cages?

No. Cats are kept in the homes of volunteer temporary carers and kept as normal pets until a permanent home is found. A cat may be caged for the first few days in the temporary home if there are other cats present as this helps the new cat adjust and feel safe. It will be released into the home when it wants to come out – this can be after the first 24 hours or may take up to a week. Some of the photos in our gallery show the cat in a cage, but this is because the photo was taken while the cat was at the vet for treatment, neutering or temporary boarding.

If a home is not found, will the cat be put to sleep?

Definitely not. Both 9 Lives and Paws for Life have a strict no-kill policy. No cat is killed while it has quality of life no matter how long it takes to find a permanent home. Euthanasia is only employed to prevent suffering when a cat is terminally ill and/or in severe pain with no hope of improvement.

I would like to offer a home for a cat. What happens next?

Contact us by phone or email (or post if you like); we would love to hear from you. We will make arrangements to visit your home to chat about it. We do not come to see how tidy you are or how much money you have. We are only interested in the love you can give a cat, whether the home is in a safe environment, and to offer advice on caring for a special needs cat if that is needed. Special needs cats are the elderly, disabled and medically disadvantaged cats. We have to consider things like other pets, children, etc. in order to match you to the cat that is most suited to your lifestyle. Gardens are not a necessity for all cats, so don’t be afraid to contact us if you live in a flat. Some cats are happier and safer in flats. Our priority is the welfare of the cat.

My cat has been diagnosed FIV positive. Should I have it put to sleep?

Unfortunately many vets advise killing FIV+ve cats because they believe they are a danger to other cats. This is not necessarily so as the virus cannot live outside the body and spreads only by deep penetrating bites. If the cat is neutered it is very unlikely to fight other cats seriously enough to spread FIV. In most cases, there is no need to kill the cat. Please download our FIV information to learn more. This is a pdf file and you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader. If you don’t have it you can download it free from here. Do not kill your cat unless it is terminally ill. FIV does not spread to humans or species other than feline. FIV means Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and is the feline equivalent of HIV.