Have you ever taken a walk in your neighborhood and come across a cat? Or to see one appear on your balcony?

Even though these situations are quite frequent, they raise questions and concerns among many citizens, particularly as winter and cold weather approaches.

While many good Samaritans want to come to the aid of these feline companions, it is not always necessary to step in. Indeed, a cat that is outdoors is not automatically stray. Many house cats like to enjoy the outdoors even though they have a home and a family waiting for them to return.

How to distinguish a domestic cat from a stray cat?

The easiest way to tell if a cat has a family is to see if it wears a collar with a tag. If so, everything indicates that the cat is simply out for a walk and will eventually return home. You can also write down the tag number and contact the SPA Eastern Townships. Our attendants will identify if the cat lives in your neighborhood and if it is wanted by its guardian.

Next, if the cat is not wearing a collar, here are some questions to ask in order to determine if it is a domestic cat:

  • Does the cat seem healthy? If it appears well maintained and lets itself be approached, there is a good chance that it has a guardian in the vicinity.
  • How long have you been seeing the cat? If the situation is recent, intervening too quickly does not give the cat any chance of returning home.
  • Did you feed or welcome a cat into your home? If this is the case, it could explain why the cat keeps returning to your house despite having a sitter a few blocks away. We strongly advise against feeding or bringing the cat in for a few days to entice it back home.
  • Have you checked with your neighbours, even those who are a little further away, if the cat is theirs? A free-roaming cat can cover a large territory and can therefore be owned by a citizen who is not necessarily an immediate neighbor.
  • Would you take the cat to the SPA Eastern Townships to check if it has a microchip? If the cat is microchipped, we can know where it lives. His guardian can be a neighbor or someone who lives much further away in case the cat gets lost.

Outdoors cats can often return home alone. For this reason, we recommend giving them time to do so. It is also ideal if the cat can return home on its own, as caretakers often do not have the reflex to check whether their animal has been taken to the SPAE. If you wish, we can still welcome the cat to the shelter.

How do I know if I should bring a cat to the shelter?

If the cat still appears stray according to the above criteria, if it is still around after a few weeks or if you notice a change in its condition, please contact us so we can schedule its admission to the shelter.

Here are some situations that require a cat to be admitted to the SPAE quickly:

  • The cat is obviously thin.
  • The cat has an observable health problem such as a limp, sore, downcast attitude, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • This is a young kitten.
  • The cat is in immediate danger (e.g.: it is on the edge of a highway, there are predators nearby, it is extremely cold, etc.)
  • It is a cat in heat or pregnant.

Outside our opening hours, if the animal found is in a situation that threatens its survival, please contact your police department, who will contact us as soon as we receive your call.

This article aims to inform citizens of the steps that should generally be taken when a cat is found outside. However, some uncommon situations may happen. If you have any doubts or questions, do not hesitate to contact the SPA Eastern Townships at 819-821-4727. Our team will be happy to guide you through the process.