I like to read the Answers Board, and recently there have been quite a few posts regarding people who take in \"strays\" they have found in their yard or at their door, without trying to find an owner. From the descriptions in the posts, some of the cats are dirty and unfed and obviously abandoned or feral, but some are affectionate, clean, and well-fed looking. Several times now I have suggested (gently) that the \"rescuer\" make some effort to find an owner for the latter category of cats.
I lost a cat to the great outdoors twenty years ago, and I\'m still full of guilt (for letting her out in the first place) and lack of closure, as I never did find out what happened to her. If these \"rescued\" cats actually have owners, I can imagine the pain and worry that the owners must be feeling over not knowing what happened to Kitty.
On another post on THIS thread, I have been reading about how to locate missing cats. Many of the hints would be useful for people trying to locate an owner (if any) for a \"found\" cat. Is the homeless cat situation in the U.S. so bad that it is reasonable to assume that any unknown cat in your back yard is homeless? When I was growing up in a small town in the U.S., we knew all the cats in the neighborhood and who owned them. If an unknown cat happened to be walking through our yard, or showed up at the door for a treat, we just assumed that it was someone\'s pet taking a walk on the wild side. Now I live in Tokyo, where people often have indoor/outdoor cats, and even in an urban environment, it\'s pretty easy to distinguish pets from homeless and/or feral cats.
I just hope that if people find a strange cat, they will make an effort to find the original owner, by putting up flyers, putting ads in newspapers, and asking at shelters if someone has been looking for a cat that meets the description of the cat who has been \"found.\" Since cats don\'t usually wander too far from home, going from door-to-door to ask your neighbors if they know who owns the cat is another idea.
In any event, having been through the pain of losing a much-loved pet, I do hope that people will try to track down an owner for \"lost\" cats, especially if they seem clean, affectionate, and well-fed.