How to Help a Stray Cat in the Community | Winnipeg Humane Society
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cats in kennel

As the weather begins to warm up, it is now usually when we see an influx of cats coming to the shelter. Space at the shelter is limited and we must work together to provide the best options possible.

Did you find a HEALTHY and friendly cat out for a walk in your neighborhood?

We recommend that you leave the cat where found. We know this can be a hard topic to comprehend. Although there is a City of Winnipeg by-law stating cats must be kept on owner’s property when outside, many people do allow their cats to roam. It is usual for a cat to travel a three to five block area and eat at multiple houses that put out food. Cats have more than double the chance of finding their way home if left in the neighbourhood, as long as they are healthy and there is no pending threat to the cat.
Only 2% of cats without ID are reclaimed by their owners.

A cat’s welfare is the top concern.  If they need our assistance, we will help.

If you have found an injured cat, or suspect they could be in distress, cats may be brought to the shelter during operating hours to receive immediate attention. If possible, we still ask that you try to call ahead so that we can be prepared to receive the cat and attend to their needs. The number to call if you have found an injured stray cat is 204-982-2020.  

If you have found a litter of kittens, we can help.

Young kittens who appear abandoned need immediate attention, especially if they do not have their mom with them. If you have found a litter of kittens, please call us ahead of time if possible, so we can be ready to attend to the kittens. If the kittens have a mom, we will accept mom so the kittens may be nursed and stay healthy.

It can be tricky to determine if there is a mom cat around as they sometimes do not want to be seen by humans and can be very sneaky. Feral cats don’t often abandon their kittens. They care for their kittens for as long as they need to until the babies become independent enough to make their way in the world. If the kittens are warm, plump and not crying, you know the mother is around and taking care of them. These kittens should be left where they are. Kittens who are cold, thin and crying need our help and should be brought into the shelter.

If you have found a stray cat in the community and they MUST be brought to the shelter, we ask that you please make an appointment before coming to the shelter.

By asking people to bring in animals by appointment only, we can ensure we have the space and resources to take care of all the animals in the shelter to our very high standards.

You may have heard us use the term “Capacity for Care” before. This sheltering model that the WHS has adopted and is recognized across shelters in the United States and Canada, helps reduce overcrowding that results in stress and illness in shelter animals, and promotes their adoptability. In the Capacity for Care model, a shelter takes in only as many animals as it has resources (space, staff, supplies, medical care) to accommodate. When we accept more cats than space and resources allow, it’s a disservice to our feline friends’ welfare and dignity.

There are other ways to reunite a stray cat with their family without bringing them to the shelter.

Cats do not belong in shelter; they belong in homes. You can help us find a cat’s home by:

  • Checking with your neighbours if this is their owned cat
  • Putting-up posters
  • Does the cat have a tattoo? Call us at 204-982-2021 (option 5) so we can trace the tattoo to the owner.
  • Can you hold onto the cat for a couple of days while we try to contact the owner and have the cat picked up from your home? This will save the cat from coming into the stressful shelter environment, while also leaving the shelter with that extra space.
  • Help us keep our space and resources open to cats who urgently need them by taking advantage of our Care to Adopt, Care to Foster or Care to Rehome programs.

To reduce the number of stray cats in our city and from coming to the shelter, we continue to remind every pet owner to:

  • License your pet with Animals Services.
  • Ensure your pet has ID, whether it be an ear tattoo, collar with a tag, or microchip.
  • Keep your contact information on your pet’s ID current.
  • Spay and neuter your pet.

To help us succeed in finding live outcomes for the maximum number of animals, we rely on our community to have pursued every possible option to reunite the lost animal. If you have found a stray cat and would like more information, call our intake department at 204-982-2021 (option 5).