It is not surprising to find cats roaming around on the street, yet sometimes they can be stray or feral. If you come across a cat that seems to be on its own, you should make preparations to make sure that it gets the attention they need.
Firstly determine whether the cat is a stray or a feral, obviously the most telling sign is that a stray will have a collar on them. Feral cats are generally ungroomed and look rugged, they have survived this far and may not want to be taken in, hence you may need to call the local council to capture them. That being said, not all feral cats are wild in nature, they can be cared for and re-homed.
Speak to your neighbours to find out if they have seen the cat or if they know the owner. If this does not turn up any results, ring up local veterinary clinics to ask if anyone has reported lost cats in the area. Plus, there are many Facebook groups and noticeboards which you may find helpful.
From here, it is best to try and capture the cat, this can be done with food, but do not rush this process, it may take a few days for the cat to warm up to you and trust you. Avoid touching, patting or picking up the cat as it is likely this will scare them off.
If you can, lure the cat into some form of enclosure like a cage or a box. If that is unfeasible, call the local council or authorities to collect the cat while it is in your immediate area.
At this point in time you may be thinking of adopting the stray cat, if so, when you hand over to the animal shelter or vet ask for the microchip number. This microchip will reveal the owners information, if there is one. You can put your name down as an interested party to take ownership of the cat if the search for the owner provides nothing. Otherwise, if not interested in adopting, once you have handed the cat over to the appropriate authorities, your job is done.
Before considering adopting please make sure that you have the ability to take care of and afford a cat.
From here, the shelter will usually have a holding period where they check up on the cat and assess its general wellbeing. During this time they will also attempt to contact the previous owner and their secondary contact to reunite them with their pet. If they do not reply or pick up the cat within the holding period, the cat will then be classified as abandoned or surrendered. Having your name down as an interested party means that you are able to adopt the cat once the holding period is over.
Generally there are a few costs that you will incur if you adopt, relating to vaccination and vet costs. Which is quite small compared to the joy having a cat will give you.