If you belong to a Facebook neighborhood watch group, you have probably come across quite a few posts with a picture of a cat that says something like, “Anyone know whose cat this is? I took them in so if you want them back message me.” OR “This cat has been in my yard for a few hours and if it is not claimed I’m taking it to a shelter.”

Well, that's what this story is about. There seems to be some heated controversy about these posts and whether these felines are outdoor cats or strays. I'll share my opinion later, but until then let’s get into it.

As far back as I can remember, outdoor cats have roamed the neighborhoods. I have had a few outside cats myself, and until lately, I have never heard of anyone having a problem with it. People now seem to be concerned and are taking it to their neighborhood watch Facebook page.

If you read the comments on any of these posts, you’ll find about 50 percent of people are in favor of taking a cat in and keeping it or taking it to the shelter. The other 50 percent of people are confused and even angered as to why someone would possibly take someone's cat away from them just because it's outside. The last post I saw had a cat trapped in a “Have A Heart Trap” and that post ended up with multiple comments with people upset because the cat looked healthy and probably had a home.

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So, would these Facebook cat posts fall under “catnapping” or people who just care?

Here are my thoughts: Unless you are sure that a cat is a stray- don’t take it in and do not take it to a shelter. These actions could stress out the cat and cause the cat’s humans to worry and possibly never see them again.

In case readers are unaware if you take a cat to a shelter and its humans do find them there, it could cost them up to $100 to get the cat back. That doesn’t seem fair to me. Also, don’t feed these cats. Cats are opportunists and will take advantage of a free meal. They will keep coming back day after day for more, making it look like it's a stray when it's not.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash
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If you are truly worried that a cat is a stray, turning to Facebook is justified. Strays are usually pretty thin, and dirty and some are even scared of humans. But remember not everyone has Facebook or, if they do, they might not be on the page you are posting on so they might not know you have their cat.

How to protect your cat from being taken in? You might want to think about a cat collar, or even make a paper collar for them to wear. You can also get your cat microchipped so they can be identified if they are taken in. Other than that, I’m not sure what you can do.

Remember outdoor cats do exist. Cats like being outside so they can hunt and explore so be careful labeling one a stray because it could cause more heartache than needed.

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Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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