Stray & Community Cat Intake Guidelines

Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is limiting intake of adult cats to cases where the cat is sick or injured, abandoned, or in immediate danger due to cruelty, neglect, and similar circumstances. Finders of stray cats are encouraged to check for a local owner, or attempt to find an owner if the cat is lost.

MCAS will accept any kitten between the ages of six (6) and twelve (12) weeks old, regardless of health, and social kittens between the ages of three (3) to six (6) months old. For kittens younger than six weeks, or older than twelve weeks, learn what to do.

Following recommendations from the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA), Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is only accepting stray and community adult cats* that are:

The changes to limit cat intake at Multnomah County Animal Services are being made because of new findings from NACA that impounding healthy adult cats is not the best way to help the cats, their owners, or the neighborhoods where they live.

  • Impoundment of healthy adult cats reduces the likelihood of reuniting families with pets.
    • Lost cats are 10-50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood where they were found instead of coming to an animal shelter. They are more likely to return on their own or be found by their families.
    • At MCAS, while over 50-percent of stray dogs are successfully returned to their owners — only approximately 9-percent of cats are reunited. While these rates are significantly higher than the 2018 national average of 17.4 percent for dogs and 2.8% for cats, MCAS is continually working to improve these outcomes.
  • Impoundment of healthy adult cats affects low-income and marginalized community members the most. 
    • Low-income pet owners face barriers to visit animal shelters due to transportation, limited time during business hours, or other costs, and are less likely to call or visit animal shelters to reclaim lost pets.
  • Impoundment of healthy cats has the potential to increase cat populations and their negative impact: 
    • Removing cats is not an effective way to manage the community cat population. In fact, it may lead to more cats moving in if their food source is still there.
  • Impounding cats doesn’t solve nuisance behaviors: 
    • Communities focused on removing cats because of nuisance behaviors are less likely to solve core problems like cats feeding from open garbage containers that may be attracting cats, rodents, and other animals.
    • TNR programs that leave cats where they are and manage their environment are better able to solve nuisance issues with cats.
  • Impounding healthy community cats reduces the capacity of Animal Services to respond to critical community needs:
    • Shelters with a high cat population can quickly become overwhelmed and overcrowded, and have less capacity to provide critical care and outcomes for abused, neglected, injured, or sick animals, and support for the pets of families in crisis.

How to Help Stray Cats

Many healthy cats — in the community — may actually have owners who allowed them to roam free. Community members who suspect that healthy, stray cats in their neighborhood do not have a caretaker are encouraged to either verify a local owner, or attempt to find an owner if the cat is lost. Visit for information on ways to find owners of lost pets, including filing “found” reports, searching for owners in the neighborhood by distributing posters while using other tools such as Nextdoor and social media to communicate. 

For questions or case by case considerations for helping stray or community cats, please call 503-988-7387, or e-mail

*“Community cat” is an umbrella definition that includes any un-owned cat. These cats may be “feral” (un-socialized) or friendly, may have been born into the wild or may be lost or abandoned pet cats. Some community cats are routinely fed by one or more community members, while others survive without human intervention. Whatever a cat’s individual circumstances, the term “community cat” reflects the reality that for these cats, “home” is within the community rather than in an individual household.

Lost & Found Pets
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