A long haired tabby cat stares to the right of the screen

Is that stray cat actually a stray?

Did you know that the ‘stray’ cat who’s always turning up at your home for a bite to eat may actually have a family of their own?

Eighty per cent of the cats we admitted for rehoming last year were not microchipped. Many of the stray cats who came through our doors had clearly lived in a home before, but without a microchip we had no way of reuniting them with their loving owners.

Karina Grimwade, Blue Cross Rehoming Manager, said: “Cats will always come back to a reliable source of food so kind animal lovers believing a cat to be a stray and feeding it might actually be luring it away from home. We know of cases where they have even ended up keeping the cat themselves, leaving their loving owners at a devastating loss of not knowing what happened to their pet.”

Microchipping, compulsory by law with dogs, is a way of swiftly reuniting a missing pet with their owners – as long as the owner keeps their contact details for the chip up to date. Blue Cross believes microchipping of cats should be mandatory.


close up of ginger and white cat Harry, who looks off-screen to the left

Real life story: Harry reunited 10 years after being mistaken for a stray

Harry the cat was reunited with his family after going missing ten years ago. Blue Cross was able to contact the cat’s owner after we scanned Harry for a microchip. The cat had been taken in by a man who believed him to be a stray and had kept him for all those years. Harry, now 12 years old, was brought in for rehoming after the gentleman died.


Ripley, a Bengal, lies inside a kennel and stares up at the person who is taking his photo from above

Real life story: Ripley comes home after Blue Cross scans microchip

Ripley had been missing for three weeks and was handed in as a stray at our Cambridge rehoming centre, where we immediately checked for a microchip. The scan revealed the chip and the owner was contacted – they lived just half a mile away from the centre and where the cat had been picked up as a stray.


A ginger and white cat wears a blue paper collar

Do you suspect a cat is stray?

Download our free paper collar now to pop on the cat to check if they are really straying.


How do I know if a cat is stray?

  • Often cats seem to be strays but actually have a home. Due to their nature they do tend to roam and can appear to be lost.
  • Put a paper collar on the cat (download above).
  • Ask your neighbours if their cat is missing or if they recognise the cat.
  • Consider putting up a ‘found’ poster with a photo of the cat
  • Check local ‘lost and found pets’ groups on Facebook
  • Call your local vet or rescue centre to see if they know of anyone looking for that cat

Read more advice about stray cats.

— Page last updated 23/06/2020