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How long should I wait before claiming this cat as my own?

(13 Posts)
Bollard Sat 06-Jun-15 17:00:06

A cat was hanging around our garden for a few days, looking increasingly hungry and miserable, until we gave in and fed him and then let him come into our house. He's been here about 2 weeks. I've encouraged him to go out as much as possible in the hope he'll find his way home. I've taken him to the vet and he's not microchipped. The vet has put his photo on their facebook page, and I've shared the page as have various friends and neighbours. I've kept an eye on the vet's fb page and followed through any suggestions people have made.

He's about a year old and seems healthy and happy. I'm sure someone is missing him.

So, how long should I wait before giving him a name, getting him microchipped, getting him routine worm and flea treatments and generally treating him as my own? We all love him and would like to keep him, but I've held off taking these steps as it would make us so much sadder if his owners turned up. And it I take those steps and someone turns up to claim him, who should keep him? At the moment I'm telling myself that we're just fostering him, but the children are asking when we will adopt him.

We weren't planning on getting a pet, but now that he's arrived we will be so sad if we have to give him up. But I read threads on here from animal owners desperate for their missing pet to come home, and I would hate to contribute to someone's worry.

Any advice or thoughts?

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 06-Jun-15 17:22:22

Have you phoned all the local vets and the local Facebook spotted page?.

Bollard Sat 06-Jun-15 17:24:14

I've taken him into the nearest local vet and he's on their fb page. There doesn't seem to be an active missing pet fb page locally.

AnneElliott Sat 06-Jun-15 17:27:02

What about asking cats protection and RSPCA to put him in their website? If no news from there then I think you're justified in keeping him.

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 06-Jun-15 17:30:27

They'd need proof he's theirs though, a photo etc. I have loads of photos of the cat.

We don't want him taken by dog fighters as bait.

marmaladegranny Sat 06-Jun-15 17:39:06

Have you tried putting a collar on him with a note saying something like 'Is this your cat? He's trying to move in with me' and your mobile number?

A few years ago a cat tried to move in with us - his owners had separated and the man left at home travelled with work. It took several weeks for the owner and us to make contact...

Bollard Sat 06-Jun-15 18:02:47

All good advice, thanks.
Fluffy, that's scary.

Archfarchnad Sun 07-Jun-15 17:18:59

We're in Germany and got our boy from a shelter here, he'd been found four months beforehand wandering around. That was when we found out this situation is very precisely regulated in Germany (big surprise!) - an old owner has only 6 months after a cat has been found to stake a claim and prove that it's their cat. It was relevant to us because when we took Archcat we still had two months of that to go, so technically there was a danger someone could have turned up. However, the shelter woman pointed out that it was virtually impossible to prove conclusively a non-chipped cat is yours, unless you have very detailed photos showing markings - and her view was the kind of person who lets a non-neutered unchipped tom cat escape is not the kind of owner to be encouraged in any case, and not someone who would go looking for a lost cat.
It's illegal in Germany to take in a found cat and then NOT go to a vet or shelter with a chip reader and register the cat as found (which is exactly what you did, not criticising you at all) - once you've done that the onus is on the old owners to check vet surgeries and shelters in the area (and obviously a chipped cat would be registered as found). It's equally illegal to start feeding a cat with the clear intention of tempting it away from its owners (which happens in the UK quite a bit it seems).

Pity it's not so carefully regulated in the UK, would save a lot of hassle. My view is that you've done all you can to notify authorities. In another few weeks get the cat chipped in your name and treat him as your own from then on. In the unlikely event that someone turns up in the next few months and can prove from photos that he's theirs (from a rip in the ear or whatever), you'd be morally entitled to ask for a contribution towards vet costs.

Like Fluffy, we've also taken loads of photos of Archcat from all sorts of angles to get distinguishing features, in addition to the chip.

Bluestocking Sun 07-Jun-15 17:31:16

RSPCA advice is here with a PDF you can print out of a paper collar. Remember not to put sellotape all round the collar as it could be dangerous if the cat got caught up in it. Good luck, hope you are well on the way to welcoming a new member of the family!

AnulTheMagnificent Mon 08-Jun-15 11:44:24

There are several missing cat sites you can register him on. However putting a photo on, while it gives more chance of finding the owner, could also put him in danger of being claimed by dog baiters.

He may have wandered off if his owners have gone on holiday and left someone else to feed him, sometimes they go looking for their owners. Assume you have asked neighbours, checked ads in shop windows?

Is he neutered? Un-neutered cats will wander and get lost.

You are supposed to try to find the legal owner before claiming the cat yourself, but it is possible he has been dumped.

If you are sure you have tried to find the owner and a reasonable time has elapsed then get him neutered if applicable and microchipped and give him a home.

PuppyMonkey Mon 08-Jun-15 11:49:15

We had a stray move in with us too about six years ago (she was pregnant too - so we took care of the kittens and rehomed also). We did everything as you suggested in your op but also had a walk round the neighbourhood knocking on doors to ask in person too. After half a day trawling round the village, we gave up and kept her.

Topsy34 Mon 08-Jun-15 21:20:54

We had a cat turn up in our garden at our old house, she slept in the spare rabbit hutch and meowed for food, she was very timid, so we just fed her and left her be. After about 3 weeks, i managed to out a collar on her with a tag saying 'if i belong to you please call' along with my number. I then called all the vets within 10 miles and emailed them a poster with her picture, contacted cats protection. I visited local catteries with her photo and put posters up all round town. After another 3 weeks she had moved in the house and got along woth our 2 other cats.

I am a qualified microchipper so i scanned her, but nothing.

9 years later she is still living with us, no one ever came for her. We love her to bits!

Bollard Tue 09-Jun-15 11:04:40

Thanks. Arch, that's interesting about the system in Germany.
I asked the postman if he'd seen missing cat posters and he's kept an eye out but seen nothing.
He's already neutered.
Think we may have a cat! We've got used to calling him "cat" so he may not get a real name.

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