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Supercharged for sole-charge

A great career opportunity for some; a daunting prospect for others – taking the reins at a sole-charge practice for the first time is not without its challenges. But what really are the differences in the responsibilities of being a sole-charge vet? Is the move to juggling clinical responsibility, overseeing teams’ performance and running an efficient practice really such a big jump? Or, are worries about being drawn away from patients and unease about being left out on a limb valid concerns? And what are the rewards?

We speak to two of our sole-charge vets find out.

Angel Martin Fernandez

In the midst of Hackney’s beautiful Victoria Park in east London, we meet Angel Martin Fernandez, vet at Goddard Plaistow practice, who manages a team of five and a considerable client base. Unusually, we didn’t pick the park for an early morning spring walk, but because this is where Angel practises his rather unconventional hobby of slacklining – his young son Lucas often watching on.

“It’s all about balance and concentration,” he laughs. “I’m talking about slacklining, but maybe you should use that in your article about managing a practice, too!”

Angel tells us that while similarities to tightrope walking exist, in slacklining some bounce and flex in the line is meant to be present (apparently the world’s highest recorded slackline walk was 1,000 metres up across a gorge, but fortunately, here, he is a much more palatable 60cm off the ground).

“My wife actually makes me bring two slacklines now because I always have the local kids come up to me desperate to have a go. I end up letting them all have turns and getting no practice myself otherwise,” he grins.

After slowly edging down the 10 metre-long rope, which is tied around tree trunks at each end – impressively maintaining his balance throughout – Angel steps off and we talk about the challenges of being in sole-charge.

“I love the independence it brings” he says, “and I would never go back, though it was quite hard in the very beginning. Once you’ve had time to settle in and get to know the clients and the team, it is a really good experience. If you are organised and want more control, you’ll be sure to thrive.”

So, how about running the practice itself? “Some days can certainly be busy and I have quite a large practice to look after, but once you work out your own work rhythm and build up your practice team, that’s when things start to balance out,” he said. 

“I’ve a young baby now, so it is even more important now to ensure I have plenty of family time, too.’ “After six years, this is the longest I’ve been anywhere, including in Spain where I was born and trained. The good thing is that there is a network of support for all vets at the Goddard Group – whether that be clinical mentorship, staff training, IT and that sort of thing, which takes away a lot of the administrative burden.”

And what of help on hand if needed? He nods and says: “I can always just pick up the phone at any time of day and get it, whether it be from practice or hospital colleagues or one of the regional support team. We are also allocated a sister practice to bounce ideas off or get another opinion, which is always reassuring.”

As Angel unties and packs away his line, we ask what his plans are for the future. “Who knows” he says, “I’m just enjoying family life at the moment. I like how things are run here and many things are done the way I would do them, and there is plenty of clinical freedom, so I’ll probably be here for some while yet”.

More immediately though, it’s time for him to get Lucas home and head off to begin the morning consults, and we bid him farewell.

Gordon Graham

A few miles down the road in east London’s suburbia, Gordon Graham is 17 years into his sole-charge vet role at the Collier Row practice, a short walk from Hainault Forest Country Park, and he echoes many of Angel’s sentiments.

“I can get on and be the clinical vet I want to be without having to worry about accounting and IT, and that sort of thing, yet still feel like I am in charge of the daily running of the branch. It’s extremely rewarding,” he says.

“I have the most awesome nursing team as well, who are not just my staff, but also good friends. We’re all on the same team and not tiered and that’s really important.

“Would I recommend it? Undoubtedly yes. I much prefer being a sole-charge vet as we all have our individual approaches to cases and a consistent approach in the practice is respected by clients. Admittedly, with a full appointment list it can be challenging to see clients promptly and time management may be difficult at first, but it is a skill that can be learned,” he adds.

“In the early days, I recall finding it most difficult dealing with complaints and not taking them personally, but again there is loads of central support for dealing with these in the best way.”

Philippa Davis

Philippa Davis, a long-standing regional manager, supported both Angel and Gordon’s comments, and as a Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management holder (and creative mind behind Goddard Veterinary Group’s award-winning London Vet Show exhibition stand last year), knows applicants’ common concerns, having filled dozens of sole-charge vacancies over the years:

“Taking sole-charge is a step up, but well within reach of vets who want a change or more control, or who are simply looking for something new,” she says. “Initial concerns I hear about are usually around how to improve performance, managing staff and the handling of difficult clients.

“Actually, once the first scary few weeks are out of the way and vets settle into really good diary management, and get the support they need, the expectation is for all our team members to always start and finish work on time. A fifth of our staff have been with us over 10 years, so once that work-life rhythm has been found, I guess it’s difficult to leave behind.

“I always make a point of making lots of visits to a new sole-charge vet to ensure they are making full use of our support teams. Though, frankly, I wouldn’t be seen anywhere near a slackline in my free time or any other time!”

Sole-charge vets at Goddard Veterinary Group

Founded in 1952 by veterinary surgeon Arthur Goddard, the group boasts 3 hospitals, 440 employees, 44 branches and its own dedicated vet nurse training college, and employs more than 100 vets and 116 RVNs. Sole-charge vets are supported by regional and central teams in IT, recruitment, HR, training, maintenance, locum coordinators and marketing, and all are allocated sister practices for mentorship and advice. Central clinical teams and hospital vets are always available for referral and clinical support.

Accommodation assistance is available for vets wishing to relocate.

For an informal chat about all opportunities across London contact us at and one of our team will be in touch.

Nurturing the next generation of amazing nurses

Trust and loyalty are both values that embody any close family, and those same values have been central to the ethos of London’s Goddard Veterinary Group (GVG) for the past 70 years.

We wanted to find out more about the people behind the scenes here and now at GVG, and what the future holds for nurse training. What encourages 20 percent of its team members to stay with the company for more than 10 years? Who makes the grade and, in a broader industry that needs many new nurses and who helps cultivate the next successful generation of RVNs?

Let’s meet those who make nurse training tick – Emma Eve-Raw and Claire Digby Maloney.

We first bump into Emma – who is the Group’s training manager and Head of Centre for Goddard Veterinary Nursing College – outside Wanstead Veterinary Hospital in north-east London early on a chilly January morning.

Describing herself as “friendly, fun, dedicated and busy” (she certainly is – Emma coaches platform diving and cricket in her spare time, and chairs the parents’ committee at her children’s school), it quickly becomes clear that Emma’s passion really is enthusing and nurturing the next generation of veterinary nurses.

“It’s not enough any longer to offer only rigid classroom days to support student learning – we are bringing in blended learning and virtual teaching to complement our face-to-face sessions,” explains Emma, who has been an RVN for 25 years, a trainer for 18 years and is a qualified teacher to University level.

“Having also been a practice manager myself, I know students need the variety and flexibility to learn and be fully supported in their journey in a way that suits both them and the demands of their role in practice. Flexible learning is what is key to bringing out the best in students so they can add real value to a practice by delivering gold-standard patient care.”

Ask Emma about the current industry-wide shortage of RVNs and the challenges faced by practice managers and she is unequivocal in her thoughts.

“There is no doubt encouraging nurses to develop their skills and to remain engaged in their role is a is key to ensuring they stay in the profession.” she says. “Nurturing well-rounded nurses with a breadth of experience really is investing in our future stars of tomorrow. 

“What is really important is that the practice teams and practice managers are actively involved in that process – it’s essential to keep them appraised of the programme we are running and allowing them access to the materials. A team effort is absolutely integral to any Nursing student’s success.”

Goddard Veterinary Nursing College is on the site of the Group’s flagship Wanstead Veterinary Hospital and boasts a large teaching area, library and kitchen with comfortable breakout and lounge areas. Being so close to a busy working hospital that has CT, digital radiography and ultrasound, as well as more than 4,500 patients coming through its doors each year, means plenty of exposure to interesting and complex cases exists. 

For the first time, the college is now open to applicants from outside GVG – something that Emma is clearly delighted about.

“We’ve got a track record of helping some excellent nurses reach their full potential, who have really added value to the practice teams they returned to or moved on to, whether that be Goddard’s or elsewhere. That’s part of the reason why we’re extending our intake this year and inviting external applicants. I guess we want to show off as to how effective we are!”

A self-confessed tea addict and sushi lover, Emma’s colourful and engaging personality is clearly one of the college’s strengths. 

“Always stay positive and look after the people around you..”, 

she laughs when asked if she has any words of wisdom for her students, “…and remember there is no point worrying about things you cannot change or that haven’t happened yet.”

As we are joined by Claire Digby Maloney, the team’s training coordinator, Emma fondly reminisced on her times as an RVN and recounted one of her most memorable cases: “Having to multitask three emergencies all requiring critical care management and CPR. That’s when you cannot panic – you must read the room and organise the troops”.

Training coordinator Claire, whose role includes that of student support, added her thoughts on what makes a great student nurse: “Obviously commitment and a desire to learn, but as important is our ability to draw out what is already there.

“One of the most rewarding things about this job is helping build confidence in our students. Chances are they are already amazing – we just help them blossom and build their confidence and skills so they can reach their full potential.”

“We also try to always lead by example, as many of us in the department also still conduct clinical nursing of patients as often as we can. We’re one big community here and even the directors come in regularly to assist vets in clinic or do consults.”

So, have you any advice for fellow trainers? “Be a mentor, a friend, a guide, as well as a clinical tutor, and recognise a student’s every achievement, whether big or small”, says Claire.

In person (Emma)

Q Spain or a camper van holiday in Scotland? Well, if that includes plenty of Spanish food and trips to the mountains then Spain it is.

Q Favourite meal out – sushi or kebab? Sushi. Absolutely. No doubt whatsoever.

Q R&B or jazz? It depends on the time and place – if I’m chilling at home then it’s definitely R&B and of course a little Britpop, though I love spending time sitting in a piano bar with a drink listening to jazz.

In person (Claire)

Q What’s next on your social to-do list? Celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and hoping to attend the concert of one of my favourite bands, which has had to be cancelled twice due to the pandemic.

Q What three phrases do you think others would use to describe you? Organised, cat crazy (although this could be said about all animals) and unique.

Q Any interests outside of work? I enjoy travelling (and look forward to being able to do this again soon), reading, learning languages, studying history, music, going to concerts, events and sports.

Fact box

Founded in 1952 by veterinary surgeon Arthur Goddard, the London-based group boasts three RCVS Tier 3 hospitals, 44 branches, and its own veterinary nurse training college and employs more than 100 vets and 116 RVNs.

College entry requirements:

  • For the Veterinary Nurse Diploma, 5 GCSEs (A to C) including Maths, English and Science are required.
  • DipVN is achievable in 30 months.
  • For the VNA Diploma there are no entry requirements. Functional skills for Maths and English are supported.
  • The VNA Diploma course may be completed in 12 months.
  • Blended learning means some of the courses’ content can be taken from home or home practice.
  • 20 student places are available from April 2022.
  • Funding may be available as part of the apprenticeship scheme.

To book a student place or for any further information, visit our Nursing College page!

Pet Travel to Europe from 2021

Pet travel to and from the European Union and Approved Countries

The government has confirmed the post-Brexit rules for travelling to the European Union (EU) and Northern Ireland (NI) with pet cats, ferrets, or dogs, including assistance dogs. Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, have become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, effective from 1 January 2021.

This means that an EU Passport that was issued in Great Britain is no longer valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland and an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) is instead required.

Preparing to travel to the European Union (EU) or Northern Ireland (NI) with your pet

It is essential to prepare well ahead of your journey. Before your dog, cat or ferret can travel from Great Britain (GB) to the EU or Northern Ireland you’ll need to take the following steps.

  1. You must have your dog, cat, or ferret microchipped.
  2. Have your dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated against Rabies. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  3. Wait at least 21 days after the primary vaccination before seeing an Official Veterinarian (OV) for completing the AHC and no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.
  4. You must either travel with your pet or within 5 days of your pet travelling.

What is an Animal Health Certificate (AHC)?

The Animal Health Certificate is a 12-page document that must be completed and certified by an Official Veterinarian (OV) who has completed additional animal export training, and who has been approved by the UK Government for this purpose. The certificate takes considerable time to complete and accuracy is important. You will need to provide supporting evidence for completion of the document:

  • A record of the date of microchipping
  • Rabies vaccination records
  • Evidence of your journey, showing that you are either travelling with your pet, or within 5 days of your pet.
  • Sign a declaration at the certification appointment that the movement of the pets is for non-commercial reasons.

We have a number of OVs available across our practices that can help you with your pet travel needs so please check that one is available when you need to travel by booking well in advance of your travel date. To assist with this process, and to ensure you are fully informed about the documentation you will be required to provide, please complete our online AHC Client Information Form that will be emailed to you when on request of an appointment for an AHC. The completed form should be submitted at least 14 days before your intended date of travel and once reviewed by our official veterinarian, we will call to confirm your appointment.

The AHC will be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to GB for 4 months after the date of issue
  • only one trip

If you are travelling with more than 5 pets:

All pets must be over 6 months of age, and must be attending or training for a competition, show or sporting event.

  • Written documentation of the age of the pets, and records of attendance at these events must be provided.

Dogs travelling to Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta:

  • Dogs must receive treatment against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) between 1 to 5 days before arriving in any of these countries.
  • Tapeworm treatment must be entered by the Official Veterinary (OV) on the AHC following treatment or in an EU-issued Pet Passport. In practice, therefore, AHCs to these countries will normally be issued within 1-5 days before arrival at your destination.

Arriving in the EU or Northern Ireland

Pet owners travelling with pets must travel on approved routes and will need to enter through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry (TPE). You may be required to present the pet’s original AHC along with evidence of your pet’s:

  • microchip
  • rabies vaccination history
  • tapeworm treatment (if required).

Repeat trips to the EU or NI

A new AHC will be required for each trip and a rabies vaccination will need to be up-to-date or, if not, revaccination will be required followed by a 21-day wait before travel.

All Cat, Dogs, and Ferrets travelling to Northern Ireland

An Animal Health Certificate will be required if travelling from Great Britain and dogs will require tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before entry, and this must be certified by a Vet.

NI-based pets and assistance dogs returning to NI from GB can use a NI-issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter NI and will not need an AHC.

NI-based pets and assistance dogs returning to NI from GB can use a NI-issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter NI and will not need an AHC.

Returning to Great Britain

There will be no change to the current health preparations for pets entering Great Britain from 1 January 2021. Pet owners must have one of the following documents when returning to Great Britain from the EU:

  • an EU pet passport (issued in the EU or GB before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
  • the AHC issued in GB used to travel to the EU – which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued
  • a UK pet health certificate (for travel into GB only).

This documentation is not required if entering Great Britain from:

  • Northern Ireland
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland.

Check the routes before you travel. Owners must travel using approved routes and their pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering Great Britain.

Owners of assistance dogs returning from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes. You must notify the point of entry in advance that you are travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done. Owners do not have to travel on an approved route if they travel to Great Britain from:

  • other UK countries
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland

Travel home from countries not free from tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)

You will need to take your dog to a vet for approved tapeworm treatment and must do this no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering Great Britain. This requirement has not changed since 1 January 2021. The treatment must:

  • be approved for use in the country where the treatment is applied
  • contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)

Tapeworm treatment of dogs is not required prior to re-entry to Great Britain if travelling directly to the UK from Finland, Republic of Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta.

Health and welfare of your pet abroad

You should consider that if you take your pet abroad it may be exposed to a number of diseases that we do not have in this country e.g., some diseases transmitted by ticks or biting flies, and parasites such as heartworm and tapeworm. The tapeworm treatment given under the pet travel rules is purely to prevent the introduction of those parasites into the UK. However, it is vitally important that your pet is protected against these other diseases while abroad. In addition to routine vaccination and normal flea and worm control, the following need to be considered and preventive treatment given. You may find further information regarding the risks and recommended preventive measure measures for the region you are travelling in by checking the European Travelling Pets Advice website.


Caused by an organism that is spread between animals by sandflies. Affected animals may lose weight, develop skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes, become lame, and have recurring fevers. A vaccine is available against Leishmaniasis. This should be planned well in advance of travel. Sandfly repellants are also available from your veterinary practice.


A parasitic disease of red blood cells is spread by ticks. Signs of disease may include fever, loss of appetite, the
passage of red/brown urine, anaemia, weakness, and death.


A disease that is also transmitted by ticks and infects red blood cells. Clinical signs vary but include fever, loss of appetite, and anaemia.

Dirofilariasis (Heartworm Disease)

Is transmitted by mosquitoes with the development of adult worms which live in the heart and blood vessels. The signs
of the disease include coughing, breathlessness and can lead to death.


Echinococcus can produce serious disease in humans and so it is important to protect your pet and thereby, yourself and your family. As well as the tapeworm treatment administered by a Veterinary Surgeon before returning to the UK, we recommend using tapeworm treatment every month your pet is in the EU, 1-5 days before returning (which must be given and certified by a Veterinary Surgeon), and then again, 1 month after returning. 

We have seen several cases of some of these diseases, especially Babesiosis and Leishmaniasis in pets that have become infected while abroad. We would therefore recommend that your pet receives regular preventive treatment to protect against the following whilst travelling abroad in:

  • Ticks (protect against Babesia and Ehrlichia infection)
  • Heartworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Sandflies and mosquitoes (protect against Leishmania and Heartworm infection).

Your local Goddard vet will be able to advise you on the best protective treatments to use depending on the area that you intend to travel to. We wish you a safe and enjoyable journey with your pet.

Ready for some summer socialising? Here are some of Nacho’s top Dog-Friendly Pubs in London!

Pet Corner: Written by Goddard Veterinary Group’s Guest Social Editor, Nacho from The Four Legged Foodies

We are very lucky to have so many dog friendly pubs in London where we can enjoy drinking and dining with our humans but on a nice sunny day there is nothing better than spending an hour or two in a pub garden. Here are a few favourite London pub gardens you will often find me hanging out with Archie.

The Ram in Kingston

Starting with the one closest to home, The Ram in Kingston is a fabulous town centre pub with a large riverside garden. While the humans enjoy their lunch and cocktails, we doggies get our own water and some tasty biscuits from the very friendly staff. A place that serves us before the humans always gets a paws up!

Kingston riverside is a great place for people and dog watching and if you go on a summer evening you get to watch the sun set over the Thames. Just watch those humans don’t have too many cocktails!!

The Ram 34 High St, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HL

The Marlborough

After a walk in Richmond Park, we like to head down Richmond Hill to The Marlborough. From the front you may think this is a small pub but once inside you will discover a spacious bar with an even bigger garden. In fact, the garden is HUGE!

The garden is part paved, part astroturf with some covered areas and heaters but the best part is the doggie station where we can help ourselves to a bowl, water and treats. It’s like an all you can eat buffet for dogs!

The Marlborough 46 Friars Stile Rd, Richmond TW10 6NQ

The Old Bull and Bush

The Old Bull and Bush is right next to Hampstead Heath where you can work up a hunger before heading to the pub for lunch. This pub has been around since 1721 and even has a song about it!

The garden is all paved with most tables covered and apart from the excellent food for the humans, what we love most about this pub is its history. It has been around since 1721 and in the 1800’s became a popular day trip destination for Cockneys, one of whom wrote a song about it.

Just imagine how many doggies have had a great time “Down at The Old Bull and Bush…”

 The Old Bull and Bush N End Way, London NW3 7HE

The Windmill in Clapham

The Windmill in Clapham has its own resident Four Legged Foodie, a Bernese Mountain Dog called Max who is thankfully more than happy to share his pub with us!

The garden here has lots to explore with an outdoor bar, a burger shack and a fully decked out garden shed. There’s even full-size statue of a cow! Afterwards you can take your humans for a stroll on Clapham Common but don’t forget to get your photo taken with Max before you leave!

The Windmill 7 Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA

No.197 Chiswick Fire Station

Put on your best bow tie for this one as it’s a posh pub! No.197 Chiswick Fire Station is what the humans call a bar and it’s one of a group of 8 across London, all of which are super dog friendly.

The garden here is a very pretty courtyard with lots of plants and flowers and just as stylish as the interior. This is one of our human’s favourite places for brunch. I just have to be kept away from the plants as I like to try and eat them!

No 197 Chiswick Fire Station 197-199 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, London W4 2DR

Richard The First

Greenwich Park is a stunning London park with some of the best views of the city you will find. After a few hours of being told to pose for photos, you will deserve a treat so you will be glad to know Richard The First pub is just across the road.

There are a few tables at the front of the pub and also a colourful patio garden at the rear where most tables are covered – this is apparently important for the humans who don’t like the rain!

Richard the First 52/54 Royal Hill, London SE10 8RT

Remember friends, always carry fresh water for your doggy companion when out and about and find some shade if the sun is shining!

I hope you enjoy your trips out, don’t forget to share your experiences with us on Instagram!GVG Guest Social Editor

Nacho x


I’ve found a stray cat, what should I do?

RSPCA figures show Greater London takes the top spot for most cats rescued, with 2,350 cats coming into RSPCA care last year. Whilst it is commendable to try and help our feline friends, first we need to decide if the cat is indeed a stray in need of help.

How can I tell if it is feral?

Feral cats are usually the offspring of stray, feral or abandoned cats that have missed out on early socialisation with humans, making them very wary of us. If they are adults already, they will not make good pets. If the cat is not friendly and approachable, it may be feral. These cats often (but not always) live in colonies rather than alone. They won’t come close, even with encouragement, and will avoid human contact. They may have a part of the ear tip missing indicating they have been trapped, neutered and released by a charity in order to keep feral populations down.

So long as a feral cat is healthy, they will live happily outside. They should be largely left alone. However if they appear injured or ill, then contact the RSPCA. Various national charities have neutering schemes so if you see a colony of cats without ear tipping, contact your local RSPCA or a local charity such as the Celia Hammond Trust for more advice.

I don’t think it’s feral – what do I do now?

If the cat is alone, approachable and friendly, it may be a cat that belongs to someone, that has strayed. Some owned cats will stray further from home than others, so we must take care not to mistake an owned cat out on their constitutional, for a lost cat. Cats may be greedy and take advantage of a well-meaning neighbour for an extra meal. They may be on a special diet at home that they’re less than pleased with, so in search of a tastier supper.

However, if you are regularly being visited by the same cat, looking for food and shelter, then action is needed.


What can I do?

Firstly check the cat for a collar. If there is one it clearly has had an owner. If the collar has a contact number on it, then get in touch and explain your situation. There may be an owner frantically searching for their missing feline friend.

If there is no collar or contact details, then you could pop the cat in a basket and take it along to your nearest vet to be scanned for a microchip.

A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification implanted subcutaneously under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each chip has a unique number, detected using a microchip scanner. The microchip number is recorded on a microchip database with details about the animal and owner. In the majority of cases, the microchip is registered to an owner and, hey presto — a reunion ensues.

If taking this cat into your nearest vet is not possible, there is no chip found on scanning, or the chip is not registered to an owner then next you could try:

  • Speaking to neighbours. News spreads fast. Word of mouth is often the best way of reuniting pets with owners.
  • Using a photo of the culprit and make a ‘found’ poster, putting them up in the local area.
  • Posting the kitty on on local social media sites and lost and found sites. This immediately magnifies your search.
  • Listing the cat on national websites such as Pets Located and the National Pet Register and look through the lost cat sections. You can list a found cat on the Battersea website here.
  • Contacting us and other local vet practices. Often owners missing their pets will think the worst and contact local vet practices first. Practices often keep a list of missing cats should one matching the description turn up.
  • Creating a homemade paper collar that you can attach around the cats neck (if you can get close enough). Ensure the fitted collar allows for two fingers to be placed between the collar and cat’s neck, to make sure the cat isn’t harmed. Write your contact telephone number on the collar strip and something along the lines of: Your cat has been visiting me and I am concerned it is a stray. Please contact me if it belongs to you.

None of this has worked, so what can I do now?

If there is still no sign of an owner then you could consider keeping the cat yourself. This is a big commitment of a potential 15 years or more, though, so must be thought about very seriously. If you are new to cat ownership, get in touch with us and we can run through the basics of cat care and what to expect so you can decide if it’s for you.

If you are not able to keep the cat then, unlike dogs, local authorities do not take in stray cats. Try contacting one of the charities below:

If you do not have any luck we may be able to provide more local charity details.

Is the cat injured or ill?

If you’re worried about the health of the cat, call the RSPCA on its emergency number 0300 1234 999 (UK). A lost cat might be nervous, especially if sick and injured, so approach them with caution. The safest way to move the cat is to carefully cover it in a blanket before picking it up. This keeps the cat safe as well as shielding you from claws and teeth.

If the cat is seriously injured, take it to your nearest veterinary practice immediately.