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Image by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez

Found a cat?

It can be difficult at times to discern if a found cat is feral, lost, or simply a neighbor's indoor/outdoor cat. 

Refer to the questions and answers below to help you determine the best next steps for the cat you have found.

Next Steps

If you believe the cat is an owned, indoor/outdoor cat:

  • Speak to your neighbors, post flyers or post in town facebook groups to check for owners.

  • If you have been feeding the cat, stop doing so. The cat is much more likely to go back home if they are not getting a free meal at your house!

  • Attach a paper collar to alert potential owners that their cat has been hanging out with you.

If you believe the cat is a displaced, stray cat:

  • Speak to your neighbors, post flyers or post in town facebook groups.

  • Fill out a found report.

  • If there is no sign of an owner, call the animal shelter closest to you for further instructions.

If you believe the cat is feral:

  • If it has an "ear tip" (a notch in the ear or the tip of the ear missing), leave it be. This means this cat has been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and belongs outdoors.

  • If the cat appears ill or injured, is in danger, pregnant or is not welcome where it is, call your closest shelter for further instructions.

  • What time of day do you see the cat?
    Owned indoor/outdoor cats typically explore the outdoors during the day and return to their homes at night. Fearful cats who are seeking safety in the quiet and cover of darkness will more often come out at night.
  • Have you seen this cat before?
    Have you been seeing this cat for months, or is this your first time seeing it? If it is your first time seeing the cat and it appears healthy, well cared for and confident, it is likely it is an owned cat who decided to explore some new territory. If it is a cat you have been seeing, is scared to approach and appears unkempt, the cat may need assistance.
  • Is the cat a healthy weight, or is it thin/emaciated?
    True strays are often underweight and may appear emaciated. These are cats that were originally indoor cats and have had to fend on their own without the know-how to do so properly. If the cat looks overweight, it may belong to one of your neighbors!
  • Have you spoken to your neighbors?
    Know that many indoor/outdoor cats do not wear collars or identification, and that those things can come off accidentally. It is important to get a photo of the cat if possible and speak to your neighbors and post in local town facebook groups as the answer might be right across the street from you!
  • Does the cat appear well cared for?
    Cats that are struggling to care for themselves outdoors and need assistance often appear dirty, matted, may be flea infested or generally unkempt. Most often an owned cat will be clean and well fed.
  • Is the cat ravenously hungry?
    Cats who are struggling to feed themselves outdoors will often devour any food presented to them. Wide, fully opened mouthed bites and attempts to get as much food in their mouth at a time as possible is a sign of a hungry cat that may need assistance.
  • Is the cat missing the tip of one of its ears, or have a notch cut out?
    An "ear tip" (pictured in the photo of the black cat on this page) signifies that a cat has been trapped, spayed/neutered, vaccinated and belongs outdoors. It could mean they are someone's barn cat or are part of a feral cat community and signifies they likely have a caretaker and belong outdoors. Unless the cat is ill, injured, pregnant, in danger or unwelcome, please leave them be. If the cat is any of those things, please call your nearest shelter for further instruction.
  • Is the cat approachable?
    Indoor/outdoor cats are often comfortable and confident being outside, and may wander right up to you and allow petting. Indoor cats who have been displaced are most often petrified as they are in an unfamiliar environment. Feral cats have little to no socialization with people and will not allow a human to get close.
  • Retirement Assets
    Retirement Assets A gift of your retirement assets—such as a gift from your IRA, 401(k), pension, or another tax-deferred plan—is a great way to make a planned gift. If you are like most people, you probably won't use up all your retirement assets during your lifetime, so why not allocate the remainder as a charitable gift to an organization that can put the funds to good use for a cause you feel passionate about! ​ Typically, retirement plan balances are subject to both income and estate taxes. However, as a nonprofit organization, the Animal Rescue League of NH won’t have the burden of these taxes and the animals will benefit from the full value of your gift! ​ NEXT STEP: Contact your retirement plan administrator for the beneficiary designation form. Please let us know about your gift (email CEO Marianne Jones) as many popular retirement plan administrators assume no obligation to notify a charity of your designation. We’d love to thank you for your gift and make sure that your wishes for the donation are honored.
  • Wills & Living Trusts
    Wills & Living Trusts By making a bequest to the Animal Rescue League of NH through your will or living trust, you can help create a legacy of love for pets in need in our community! ​ There are several ways that you can make a bequest through your will/trust: Specific Gift: you can designate a specific dollar amount, percentage of your estate, or a specific stock/bond you would like to leave to a specific person or organization. ​ Residuary Gift: this type of bequest is honored after all other gifts have been made and all other debts/expenses/taxes have been paid. ​ Contingent Gift: this type of bequest is fulfilled if certain conditions are met—for instance, if your primary beneficiary does not survive you, you can indicate your next choice through a contingent bequest. NEXT STEP: Have you already named ARLNH in your will/trust? Please let us know of your plans (email CEO Marianne Jones); we’d like to thank you for joining us in our work to improve the lives of animals in our community! ​ Haven't made a will yet? Check out this free, online will-writing resource tool. The easiest way to make a powerful commitment to the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire is to include a gift in your will. It will cost you nothing today but ensures our rescue services can continue for generations to come. To help you get started, ARLNH has partnered with FreeWill, a free, online service that guides you through the process of creating a legally valid will in 20 minutes or less. You can use FreeWill to create your legacy gift today.
  • Charitable Gift Annuity
    Charitable Gift Annuity With a charitable gift annuity, you can realize tax savings and reliable annual income while donating to a worthy charity! ​ Here’s how charitable gift annuities work: You make a donation to ARLNH (minimum of $10,000). Then, you receive fixed annual payments for the rest of your lifetime at a predetermined payment rate. ​ You will receive an immediate charitable income tax deduction, and if you donate appreciated securities to fund your gift annuity, you will get capital gains tax savings as well. ​ Your gift of a charitable gift annuity will benefit you—and someone else, if you so choose—now and benefit animals in need in your community into the future! ​ NEXT STEP: Please contact our CEO, Marianne Jones (by phone at 603-472-3647 or by email at to learn about the process for this giving option.
  • Life Insurance
    Life Insurance You can name the Animal Rescue League of NH as a primary beneficiary on your life insurance (or as a contingent beneficiary should your other beneficiaries not survive you). After your lifetime, the benefits from your policy will be donated to ARLNH, free of federal estate tax, to continue its mission of helping pets and the people who love them in our community! NEXT STEP: Contact your life insurance company for the appropriate forms to name a policy beneficiary.
  • What do I need in order to adopt?
    Prior to your appointment please make sure that you have looked into any restrictions set by your landlord, condo/home association or home insurance. The animal you are interested will have an adoption fee listed on their profile, so please be prepared for that cost. Our software prefers to process card payments on smartphones, so please bring a card and smart phone if they are available to you! If you are adopting a cat or small animal, please bring an appropriately sized, safe and secure carrier.
  • Can I come in and look at all of the animals?
    Not at this time. The pandemic offered us a unique opportunity to see how our animals do when we are not open to the public. We have seen a drastic increase in the ability to relax and sleep in our shelter animals since making the shift to appointment based adoptions. Many animals do not appear friendly when they are being seen through glass, and this is because they do not understand how to respond to repeated strangers passing by but never being able to investigate them. Adoptions by appointment allows the animals to be even more present for your visits, and allows the staff to truly take their time with you and your future pet! We will be happy to chat with you about our available animals and see who might be a fit for you. If we have an animal who has the personality and traits you are looking for, we would be thrilled to introduce you! Do not be discouraged by this process, we will assist you every step of the way.
  • Can I take an animal home the same day I visit them?
    Sometimes yes, sometimes no! Many of our animals are available to go home the same day if all members of the household are present, the meeting has gone well and your adoption counselor feels comfortable doing so. We prefer our animals to go home sooner rather than later if possible, so we will always allow same day adoptions when it is safe to do so! Some animals are a bit quirky and require more than one visit. If you have a dog who will be meeting a shelter dog, sometimes they may need more than one visit to be comfortable around each other. Other times, we may want you to sleep on your decision before moving forward! This is something you can chat with your adoption counselor about prior to your appointment. They will be able to give you a general timeline!
  • What medical care does the shelter provide?
    ARLNH provides exceptional care, medical treatment and behavioral support to all animals looking for their forever homes. All cats adopted from ARLNH have: Been tested for FELV and FIV Received distemper and rabies vaccines Started on monthly flea and ear mite prevention Received dewormings as needed Been spayed or neutered and microchipped All dogs adopted from ARLNH have: Been tested for heartworm disease Received kennel cough, distemper and rabies vaccines Been spayed or neutered and microchipped Started on monthly heartworm prevention and flea/tick prevention Received dewormings as needed All small animals have had an exam with our shelter veterinarian and received any necessary treatments. All rabbits are spayed or neutered.
  • Can I set up an appointment to see multiple animals?
    No. In order to prevent heart break, if you have an appointment with an animal we will not set up an appointment for anyone else to meet that animal. This means that animal is guaranteed to be there when you arrive for your appointment! This also means that the time between your appointment being made and your appointment date is time that that animal is in waiting and cannot be adopted. Because of this, we only allow you to make an appointment for one animal at a time so we do not prevent adoption opportunities for multiple animals. With that being said if you arrive for your appointment and there is another animal you are interested in, please check in with your adoption counselor. If that animal is a good fit for you and does not have an appointment scheduled with someone else, we may be able to introduce you to both!
  • What are the adoption fees?
    Adoption fees help to cover some of the costs of caring for an animal until they find their forever home. (Credit/debit card is the preferred method of payment for adoption fees.) Cats: Under 6 months - $175 6 months - 1 year - $150 1 - 8 years - $125 8+ years - $50 Bonded Pair - $50 off the second cat! Dogs: Under 6 months - $475 6 months - 1 year - $400 1 - 8 years - $325 8+ years - $175 Bonded Pair - $100 off the second dog (excluding puppies 8 months and younger) Small Animals: Rabbits - $50, 2 for $75 Ferrets - $50, 2 for $75 Guinea Pigs - $25, 2 for $35 Rats - $10, 2 for $15 Mice and Hamsters - 2 for $5
  • Dogs
    Paw Safe Snow Melt Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food Nylon leashes (6 foot length, 1 inch width) Slip leads Nylon Martingale collars Front attaching harnesses (EZ Walk, Sensation, Freedom) Brain toys (Kongs, Kong wobblers, Tug-A-Jug, Buster Cube, etc) Squeaky tennis balls, plush or plastic toys Please visit our Canine Amazon Wishlist or our Walmart Registry to order items directly to the shelter.
  • Shelter Supplies
    Dawn Dish Soap Odoban or Simple Green Windex Poop bags Disposable, non-latex gloves Unscented liquid bleach Paper towels Scrub tops and pants, larger sizes preferred Toilet paper White vinegar Heavy duty 55gal contractor trash bags Please visit our Shelter Supplies Amazon Wishlist or our Walmart Registry to order items directly to the shelter.
  • Cats
    Unscented, non-clumping clay cat litter Science Diet Adult Dry Cat Food Science Diet Kitten Dry Cat Food Feather, mouse or catnip toys Cat slow feeders Cardboard scratchers Kitten Replacement Milk Visit to order specialized cardboard scratchers that fit comfortably in our cat cages without taking up floor space. Please visit our Feline Amazon Wishlist or our Walmart Registry to order items directly to the shelter.
  • Office Supplies
    Card stock Copier paper Easels Hanging file folders (Pendaflex) Binder clips Post-Its Scissors Scotch tape Stamps (first-class Forever stamps) Manilla Folders Use our Office Supplies Amazon Wishlist to have items shipped directly to the shelter.
  • Small Animals
    Rabbit toys (plastic stacking cups, chew toys, wooden toys) Timothy hay Blue Seal Bunny 16 Pellets Oxbow Adult and Young Rabbit Food Oxbow Adult and Young Guinea Pig Food Apple tree branches Tall metal exercise pens and exercise pen covers Please visit our Small Animal Amazon Wishlist or our Walmart Registry to order items directly to the shelter.
  • What if my child has allergies?
    Camp is not recommended for children with allergies to pets or pet dander. Camp is held inside our shelter facility, which houses a variety of animals. Please be aware if your child has a nut allergy; dogs are given peanut butter daily and many treats contain nut allergens.
  • Who will work with my child while at Camp Critter?
    Staff and volunteers who have a background in education as well as experience with animals. Employees and volunteers who work directly with campers receive a comprehensive background check. Your child may also interact with other shelter employees and volunteers as well as guest presenters during Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, etc.
  • Why can’t my child wear flip-flops, crocs, or sandals to camp?
    For safety reasons, campers are required to wear closed-toed shoes, preferably sneakers. Campers may be sent home or be unable to participate in some activities if they are not wearing appropriate footwear.
  • Can I drop my child off early or pick up late?
    We allow drop-off 15 minutes prior to the camp start time (8:30am) and 15 minutes after the camp end time (12:30 pm).
  • Do you go on any field trips?
    We do not. Camp Critter is held onsite at ARLNH, although campers may get to enjoy some outdoor activities on our property’s grounds, including trail walks.
  • Why does my child need to wear his or her t-shirt every day?
    We know it’s a hassle to try to keep one shirt going for the whole week, but it really helps us and the other staff to easily recognize a camper around our campus. We appreciate your efforts with this!
  • Will my child get to walk dogs?
    We take in animals with different backgrounds and behavioral needs and work hard to ensure that any animal interactions are safe and positive for both our campers and our adoptable animals. For this reason, only certain staff and adult volunteers are trained and permitted to walk dogs.
  • Can you accommodate children with special needs?
    Yes, we can.  However, children who require one-on-one assistance in school will need to be provided a one-to-one aide at summer camp. We appreciate having as much information about your child’s needs as possible to ensure a safe and positive experience for all our campers and animals. Please keep in mind that for the safety of our campers and our animals, children must be able to maintain calm bodies and quiet voices and must be able to follow directions. The aide (parent or otherwise) is required to submit a background check to the ARLNH in advance of camp. The parents are responsible for arranging a background check through the NH Department of Safety. Be sure to plan several weeks of lead time if requesting through the mail.
  • What kinds of things will campers do at the Camp Critter summer camp?
    Campers will start their week with a shelter tour and introduction to Camp Critter. Throughout the week, they will explore various learning topics and activities about companion animals, enjoy animal interactions, and take part in guest speaker presentations. Lessons will focus on humane education; teaching kids about animal care, compassion for others, and responsible pet ownership. Activities include interactive lessons, crafts, games, shelter tours, visits from different staff members/ guests, and making things for our adoptable animals like treats and enrichment toys.
  • Will my child get to interact with animals at the shelter?
    We make every effort to arrange for campers to interact with animals throughout their camp week. The goal of camp is to provide an engaging, fun, and safe educational experience that includes hands-on experiences with animals. Depending on what animals are available for adoption, campers may have the opportunity to interact with a friendly cat or kitten, small animal, or dog. While we will do our very best to offer your child an interactive and diverse animal experience, we cannot guarantee any interactions with our adoptable animals.
  • Does my child need to bring lunch and snacks?
    With the camp program being a half day program, there will not be a scheduled time for lunch. There will be a scheduled morning snack time. All campers should bring a snack and water bottle each day. Additional water bottles will be available as needed.
  • If my child attends camp and interacts with animals, should I worry about my pets at home?
    We work hard to implement safety and cleaning protocols. While it is not likely that your child will purposefully encounter sick animals, we do recommend that children wash their hands and change clothing before interacting with pets at home.
  • My child is very active, rough and tumble, and energetic. Is this a good camp for them?
    This will probably not be the best fit. Our camp requires calm, quiet, gentle children who can keep themselves under control for the safety and comfort of our animals. If your child has a lot of energy throughout the day and needs lots of frequent movement, this may not be the right fit for them.
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