When you see a kitten or cat sitting by itself, no collar and friendly, you might think it’s lost or abandoned. However, cats enjoy a walk and many have quite large territories.

In an experiment where cats carried mini trackers on their collars, house cats went for walks that took them 1.3km from home, over a range of 2,400 hectares (that’s about 2,400 football pitches!). Feral kitties went even further!

Cats usually find their way home, although some mix up landmarks – especially when you move house. We once found our Scoop sitting five houses from the end of the road, just where our home is located, but one street away from us.

So when you see a pet, it may be out for a walk or only a little bit lost. If you leave it, chances are it will go home. Or you can give a helping paw by asking in your street and the two streets on either side of you. From experience, it’s best to take a shot of the cat on your cellphone and go banging on doors and accosting people in their gardens.

If a pet’s been dumped, it takes a week or two for them to look run down. So if the animal is looking dirty and distressed, it’s more than likely lost or dumped. Check with pet shelters, groomers, pet shops, security guards and vets, for lost animals. Petfinder.my is excellent, too.

Still no luck? Then you have to start making decisions about what to do. If you adopt, be warned that even a pet who’s been loved will be nervous. A visit to the vet is a must to make sure the cat is healthy. Then go home, put them in a small room with food, water and a litter tray. Speak softly, don’t crowd the new pet and let him or her rest up a few days.

When your pet is used to you, introduce another family member. Take it slow and easy, over a week or even two or three. Life on the streets is rough, so think of the animal as a refugee from a war zone.

And when they’re in shape – get them neutered!