Volunteers at Derry’s Rainbow Rehoming Centre have urged people to make sure a cat is stray before reporting it as such, following in hike in such incidents.
Anna Hyndman from the centre said she even had a cat reported as stray which turned out to be her own pet.
She said that while people had good intentions, they needed to know that cats were allowed to roam and wander in a way that dogs were not.
Ms Hyndman said: “It is a constant struggle with cats and we are getting a wild lot of people finding cats and assuming they are strays. Too often now people are taking people’s cats and contacting the centre. People need to look and see why they think a cat is stray if they come across one. If they look perfectly healthy then don;t assume it is a stray.
“People assume if they haven’t seen it before then that must be the case but cats have freedom to roam and that is why people get mixed up. If they are not neutered a cat could roam for miles.”
Ms Hyndman said that while people meant well when raising the alarm, needless calls can add to the pressures on animal shelters.”
People who do come across a roaming cat are advised to: ask their neighbours about it; never take the cat in as it cannot get out to go home; put up posters in local shops etc and leaflet drop.
The cat may also be mirco-chipped and can be checked at a local vets, or post on Facebook asking if some one recognises the cat.
Ms Hyndman added: “We are very concerned for the cats and we advise that pet owners at least mirco-chip their cats.
“If you need advice please contact the centre and never bring the cat to the centre as you may have to take the cat with you again.”