Stray Cat or Pet Cat?

How do you tell if a cat is stray or just an outside pet?

Lately on my daily walks around the neighborhood, I’ve come across a beautiful, skinny cat that is always in front of one particular overgrown house. It was very sweet and friendly to me - immediately coming to me when I stopped, mewling to get me to pet it, letting me hold it, etc. If this cat is indeed a stray, I would like to take it home with me. However, I am afraid that it is someone’s pet, and I certainly don’t want to steal someone’s cat.

It appears to be an all-black Siamese - I mention this because I know Siamese tend to be skinner than normal pets, so I’m wondering if maybe it isn’t starving at all, just naturally skinny. I did talk to the neighbors that were next to the house it was in front of, and they said they haven’t seen it before. After they said this I was convinced it was stray, so I went back to the cat, scooped her up, and started walking home. I got about half-way home before it wanted to get down - so I let it. It didn’t run away though, just sort of looked at me like, “I really don’t want to go this way.” So I walked back to where I had found the cat - it followed me the whole way, and when I got back to the bushes another cat came out, they were friends - but the new cat was obviously not starving, which makes me think maybe the black one is a pet after all.

So what do you think? Can I take this cat without guilt or just let it be? Should I maybe just try to contact more neighbors on the street to see if anyone owns her? If I get her in a carrier and take her to a vet, can the vet tell me if she appears well cared for enough to be a pet? I was thinking about leaving food out, but I don’t want to draw more strays and annoy the people that live there.

I definitely wouldn’t assume it doesn’t belong to anyone, if it appears healthy and well-fed. My neighborhood is awash in cats, but they all belong to someone. They also all have their favorite yards to hang out in or in front of, which are invariably not *their *yards, so I’m not sure how fruitful it would be to ask the neighbors.

If it actually shows enough interest in you to follow you home or let you take it home, then take it in and post a few “Found” flyers.

I believe feral cats are very territorial, since these two got along well, I would assume they are pets. If not, then someone dumped them.

I think you all are right, and I’m just going to assume it’s a pet for now. I walk by there frequently, so if it seems like things are going downhill for the puss, I’ll do something then. Thanks for the input!

Buy a cheap break-a-way collar for each cat. Staple a note on to said collar with your contact information and your question as to whether or not these cats are owned. Your question should be answered shortly.

Even if it is a stray it seems to have found a home that takes at least minimal care of it.

Meanwhile, there are many many cats who would love to be your pet. They can be found in any shelter, they don’t belong to anyone else, and they desperately need your help. Also shelters will ensure animals have been checked for disease and often will provide assistance for you to neuter the animal if this has not been done already. Please consider this route if you would like a cat for your home.

Seconding this.

Strays don’t generally let themselves be picked up and carried off. If it’s *that *friendly, then it’s well cared for.

Maybe it’s skinny because it has a chronic but managed disease. If that’s the case, you pick it up, take it home … and suddenly it’s off its meds and you have a cat on your hands dying of something mysterious, when it had loving owners and medication and vet care all along.

Lots of cats are naturally skinny (and they don’t always have Siamese points). Lots more cats have long-term illnesses that are managed by proper diet and medication.
And there are lots of cats being euthanized every day for lack of a home.

(I like the cheap-collar-and-note idea, Minnie Luna! That’s clever!)