Author of "Where Do Your Cats Go When They Leave Your Home," Cindy knows exactly what to do if her cats wander off.
Anyone who has ever had cats that went missing knows how worrying it is. You don't know what happened to them, or even if they are alive or dead.
Unfortunately, cats do have a bad habit of straying off to explore new territory. Cats' territories can span up to a two mile radius, and this makes them very hard to find if they get lost or injured.
It is important to remember that if your cat ventures out, although it may well be gone for days at a time, this doesn't necessarily mean your cat is lost. It does not automatically mean that something awful has happened to it, either. Frequently, it simply means that your cat is just doing what comes naturally to it, patrolling and guarding their territory (and, of course, hunting).
Still, of course you want your cat back as soon as possible. Below, you'll find a list of all of the things you can do for a quick and safe return.
How to Find Your Missing Cat
If your cat has a microchip or collar:
If your cat is microchipped or wearing a collar, there is a good chance you will be called by either a vet or a rescue centre if the cat is brought in.
The only times this is unlikely to happen is if the microchip has 'migrated' to another part of the cat's body (which does occasionally happen), or the collar was lost.
It is smart to periodically ask your vet to check if the microchip is still in the correct position or if it has migrated (or even made its way out of the body altogether, which also happens very occasionally). If this is the case, you might want to get another microchip.
If you call around and still can't find your cat, then follow the steps below.
If your cat does not have a microchip or collar:
- Since they're likely still within their territory, walk around the neighborhoods within a two mile radius of your home calling your cat's name.
- Call around to all the vets, surgery centers, and rescue centres within a five mile radius and ask if a cat fitting your cat's description has been brought in.
- Use a computer or a copy machine to create fliers with a description and a photo of your lost cat on them. Post these fliers in as many public places as possible within a two mile radius of your home on trees, shop windows, telegraph poles, car windscreens, in the rear window of your own and friends' cars, in vet's reception areas, etc.
- Knock on doors in your neighbourhood and ask if people have seen your cat. Show them a photo of your kitty and give them a phone number to contact if they see your cat in the days to come.
- Leave out your cat's favourite food each night, preferably a strong-smelling type of food that will lure your cat home again. If you are worried about this attracting rats, then place it on a raised platform that a cat can jump up to but a rat can't.
- Check sheds and outhouses to make sure your pet has not been locked in by accident. Ask your neighbours and local businesses to do the same if they have garages, sheds, or outhouses on their property.
- Look in trees. Even cats that are experienced climbers sometimes go too high, perhaps when running from a dog, and then get frozen in place, too scared to move.
- Check local parks or woodlands for signs that your cat might have fallen prey to a larger predator such as a coyote, Great Horned Owl, Eagle Owl, mountain lion, or snake. Signs might include tufts of fur, bones, the collar, or even just signs of a struggle like broken undergrowth with tufts of hair stuck to the bushes.
- Visit your local schools and ask the teachers to speak to their classes to ask the children to look for your lost cat. Again, a photo helps here, and a small reward can do wonders to motivate children to search the local neighbourhood on your behalf. Let's face it, children get everywhere, so if anyone is likely to find your cat in an unusual location, it could well be a child or teenager.
- In fact, offering a reward will motivate many people to help you look.
- Contact your local radio station and ask them to put out an announcement about your missing cat. They may or may not charge for this service, but it will ensure you hit a large target audience all at once either way.
- Place a 'Lost' or 'Missing' advert in your local newspaper, preferably with a photo if you can afford it, or at least with a good description of your cat if a text advert is all you can stretch to financially.
- Get T-shirts or badges printed with a picture of your cat and your contact information. Wear these whenever you can and pass them out to your friends and relatives.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure!
You might not like to think about this if your cat is currently missing, but if you take the right steps from the moment you adopt your pet cat, you will most likely avoid the worry that goes with a missing cat. By 'the right steps' I mean the following:
How to Avoid Losing Your Cat
- Make sure your cat is microchipped and/or wearing a suitable safety collar with your phone number on it.
- Install an invisible fence fitted to keep your cat within the boundaries of your garden or yard.
- Before introducing new pets to the household, to avoid stress and flight by both your new and old cats, carefully research and follow the methods for introducing a new cat or kitten to your home.
- Get your cats neutered or spayed as soon as they hit six months old. In the case of male cats, this will reduce their desire to travel long distances in search of females to mate with. This will also prevent him from getting into fights over females or getting knocked down by vehicles during his quest to find a mate. Likewise with females, this will stop them searching for males to mate with as they normally would were they in heat.
I hope these ideas help you to find your missing pet cat alive and well. Remember not to panic if your cat has only been missing for a few days. Sometimes cats go missing for weeks at a time and then stroll in as if they have never been gone. It is in their nature to hunt, explore, and enjoy the great outdoors. We just have to accept that this is something we need to get used to if we are to have cats in our homes.
© 2011 Cindy Lawson
Anonymous on September 06, 2020:
This is good but I need to try and the tips are ok
Narci Cruz on June 20, 2020:
My cat has been missing for months now she's missing since February. I have been putting posters of her and asking my friends, I've also been driving and walking around to find her but she doesn't show up. She's young she's been living with me and my family since August, 2019 she was just 8 weeks old when someone gave her free to us, she's a calico cat and she's a outdoor cat. I think she was the only calico cat that lived here because I haven't seen other cats like her. There was this family that lives below us and they have locked her in their house twice and I asked them and they said they didn't have her and I do believe them because if anyone opens the doors she would usually run out. Is there any possibility that she will ever come back or I'll find her?
Victoria on August 31, 2019:
Hi my cat has been missing for 24 days and I’m really worried. She’s an older cat, 12 1/2, and we moved 4 months ago so she hadn’t really gotten used to the area. She’s an indoor cat and used to go outside at my old home but not here. There has been only one possible sighting and there are many stray cats here so it might not have been her. I don’t know what to do anymore and I really miss her. Is there still a chance she will come home?
Cameron k on August 13, 2019:
My cat is small and fluffy and she goes inside and out so it’s normal for her to be outside but she’s been gone for like 9 days and it’s not like her she Neutered and everything but there’s homes being built in my neighborhood and in front of and beside my house but there’s still a whole neighborhood it’s just right by my house on the corner but the field in front of my house I’ve been searching every sense I noticed she was gone I went in the wood in front and behind my house to look in trees and make sure she’s not hurt somewhere but we do have coyotes bad in the big field but I never found anything indicating that she was hurt such as fur , blood or anything but Ik there’s places she can hide in ppl yard but I really just don’t know I put food and her cat litter all around the field in front and behind my house but it also rained like day 2/3 of her missing so idk if she just got lost but we’re getting lost papers made tomorrow but I really need some tips or hope bc I’m really losing it this is my best friend
Ahrianna on August 09, 2019:
I found a Orange white cat
In are yord
Vivian on July 19, 2019:
My cat Avery has been missing for a little over a week now (about 12 days) me and my mom have put up fliers, called for her around the neighborhood and even received a call of someone thinking they’d seen her, and we still can’t find her. She’s neutered and has a collar but no chip. We are worried sick and I can’t go a day without crying. I don’t know what to do. There are coyotes in my neighborhood, and that thought terrifies me. We called our local vet and asked that they keep an eye out. She is and indoor/outdoor cat but she never leaves our backyard/driveway. She is about 4 years old. Is there anything I can do to have her return? I’m rarely happy since she’s gone and I’m worried sick. Please help.
Yuni Wolf on May 30, 2019:
My cat has been missing for over a week now. Do you think he could find his way back home? Today was raining, I am so worry that he is stranded somewhere. He was wearing a collar with his id and my phone number on it. But so far no one has called me. I put an ad on Facebook, Nextdoor, pamphlet on neighborhoods and mailboxes, I still haven't heard anything :( Where would he be?
Mariana on May 23, 2019:
Mariana on May 22, 2019:
Hello, my small female cat has been missing for almost 48h now. She’s 3 years old but isn’t neutered, she is also an indoor cat... she goes outside almost every sunny day but that’s on a leash for about 2 hours. I’m extremely worried as we live in Canada and yesterday I saw 2 coyotes and I’ve already seen a bear while my neighbors have seen a cougar in the area many times too.
My mom and I are worried sick!
What do you think I should do? Any suggestions help!
Soné on May 02, 2019:
Hi. I've read your article and it helps a bit tonput my mind at ease a little. My cat is gone for 3 days now wich is unlike her. She was very sick for more than a week and keeping her indoors for that I think might be the reason why she desided not to return after she healed and I let her out. She is the size of a big kitten and becoming 2 years old. She is fixed luckely. But my point is that I'm the one freaking out that something might happen to such a small cat that became more than just some pet to me. Do you perhaps have more advice for me? How do I deal with all this?
April on May 02, 2019:
We just adopted a cat who is about 2yrs old and neutered. We had him for maybe 3days and he figured out how to...open our back door. And he’s been gone now for 2days. He was very scared of his new home and skittish and we just kept him calm and let him adjust on his terms... but now he’s gone.
I fear that there’s no hope in finding him since he wasn’t use to his new home.
Words of encouragement?
Jitts on April 30, 2019:
My cat, a year old gone missing wen we shifted to new house. It was there for a week thn went missing for a week. We searched the entire locality since we leave near forest and close to main road. Just thought something happened like accident. Animals hunted but returned safely by early morning was meowing seeing each of us. It actually missed us so much. It always comes back if its too much attached to u for sure
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 21, 2019:
Sorry Izzy, you did say your cat was spayed, so probably she is just off ‘spreading her wings’ for a few days. Just don’t worry too much too soon. My own cat went missing for well over a week once but came back happy as anything). It happens all the time with cats even if it’s not normal for the individual cat.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 21, 2019:
I’m afraid all my best ideas for finding a missing cat are here in this article so I can’t really offer further suggestions. I would guess though that your cat is heading back to where you lived before. You really need to keep them indoors for a minimum of a fortnight after moving house before letting them out (and some organisations advise far longer). You would be surprised at how far they can find their way home though, sometimes hundreds of miles or more, so my advice is to contact whoever is living in your former home and ask them to let you know if your cat turns up there so you can go and pick him or her up.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 21, 2019:
Hi Izzy, I’m afraid all the suggestions I could ever come up with were put into this one article. However, what I would say is not to panic after just 3 days. I know this is unusual for her, but it is normal for any cats to eventually want to explore, often for days at a time. You don’t say if she’s spayed or not, but if she isn’t she’s probably off finding a mate and following her instincts, if she is spayed she may well just be spreading her wings a bit. Just do what you plan to, but don’t worry for at least another few days.
Dario on April 21, 2019:
Hey my cat is missing for 7 days and I just moved to a new apartment but my cat escaped by an opened door after 1week living here. The old apartment is 400km far away. Any idea for me please?
Izzy on April 21, 2019:
A bit over a month ago, we adopted a young female cat (we think about 1-2 years). She is spayed and microchipped, and since we adopted her has been free to go outside basically whenever she likes. She settled really well into our house and is super friendly, so I don’t think she’d intentionally run away. However, about three days ago we let her out and she hasn’t come back since. Previously the longest she’d ever stayed out was a couple of hours. We’ve been leaving food out for her every night, and have been walking the streets calling her, but no signs so far. Tomorrow we are going to go around and ask neighbours if we can check their yards. The day she went missing though we had been out at our other property for three days (with her), and while it’s not the first time we’ve taken her there, I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it? As I live in Australia, there aren’t really any predators that I think could have taken her, except maybe foxes or other dogs. I know that three days isn’t really a long time for a cat to be gone, but I’m worried about her because she’s so far just been super friendly and clingy, and this isn’t like her. I miss her a lot and desperately want her back - do you have any other suggestions to help find her?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 16, 2019:
P.S. I don’t know if your cat is neutered or not, but if you do get him back get him fixed and keep him in for 6 months to let the hormones get out of his system, that way he won’t be a threat to the other cat and they should tolerate each other.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 16, 2019:
It could be a territorial issue, but chasing away the new cat might not be so easy and may not mean your missing cat comes back. I wish I could offer more encouraging news.
Natasha Patel on March 16, 2019:
Our cat who is 4-years-old has been missing for 9 days now, there's no trace of him at all and he's not been eating his food which is very very unlike him. In the last few weeks, we have had another cat constantly coming into our garden and into his territory; this cat also seems to get on with our other cat very well. Could it be that he's run away as this other cat has taken over his territory? If we scare away the other cat, could he come back?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 07, 2019:
I assume you mean you live in a communal building with lots of other flats within it and you don’t have an external front door of your own? If that is the case and you are on the ground floor I imagine leaving food on the window ledge could work and is certainly worth a try. I would also leave a missing poster on the main doors of the building showing a photo of your cat so anyone coming and going during the day can let you know if they’ve seen him.
Ana on February 06, 2019:
Hi, thank you for the tips.
IMy cat has been missing for almost 3 weeks, I'm desperate. I live in a building so I feel like him coming home is a bit harder, also because I work all day long.
Do you have any tips for this specific case?
Leaving food would only be possible at my window, would that work?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 05, 2019:
Well I would definitely ask the neighbours, because if they have fed your cat it is very possible he has just ‘moved hiuse’. You just have to word it carefully so you don’t sound like you’re accusing them of deliberately stealing your cat (if they do have him of course).
Max on February 05, 2019:
My cat has been missing for almost 4-5 months now... im worried he wont return... I kind of lost hope , so did my family ! My neibghour has like 7-10 cats .. i felt like i saw him there but was too sceptical to go further . What do you think? WIll he return or should i go ask the neibghours?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 26, 2019:
That’s great news Camry. Thanks for the update.
Camry on January 25, 2019:
We finally got him out of the bush. I thought that he was used to being in the open during the day but he was terrified of the day. As soon as it became night, he casually came out and was fine. I was able to scoop him up and take him inside. Thinking about it, it probably had something to do with his time as a stray when he was younger before we found him. Thank you for your helpful ideas.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 25, 2019:
Is there a cat basket you could set up near the entrance to where he is that you could bait with cat food and wait for him to venture into so you can close the door behind him? If he’s nervous you could tie a long piece of string to the door of the basket, and when you see him go in you can pull the string to shut the door behind him.
If you can’t shovel any more snow out you could try salt to melt it, or even warm water depending on how deep it is.
Camry on January 25, 2019:
My cat slipped out the door yesterday morning when we were coming in with the puppy and it’s snowing really bad. He hates the snow and we have a location on him, but it’s under a huge bramble bush. Do you have any ideas of how to lure him out? We know he most likely won’t move from the bush because of the snow, but we want to get him in because it’s supposed to get close to the negatives tonight? He used to be a wild cat, but he is only about 8 months old. He is very attached to me, but he is too scared to come near the snow at the entrance of the bush and we can’t possibly get anymore snow away from the entrance. We tried placing a towel over the snow but it doesn’t seem to have an effect on how he sees the entrance. I’m really worried about him. I’ve run out of ideas, any would help.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 25, 2019:
Hi Very Worried,
So sorry your cat is missing. I think I cover in this article the kind of things you can do to help get her back, including leaving food out for her. I wish I could add to these suggestions, but I put every one I had into this article. Sorry I can’t offer more.
I hope she comes back soon
Very Worried on January 24, 2019:
My cat's been missing for almost a month now and there's been no trace of her. She goes out a lot to explore (we live in quite a rural area), but she almost always comes back for her meals. What can I do to try and lure her back?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 15, 2019:
At 5 months old he is about the right age for wanting to explore his territory so I wouidn’t worry too much yet. Don’t be surprised if he goes missing for weeks at a time until you get him neutered, but I do urge you to get him microchipped (avoid collars, they are too dangerous to cats, and even the ones with safety catches have been known to fail).
One of my cats went missing for 2 weeks when he hit 6 months old, but he still came back. I got him neutered soon afterwards.
gracie on January 15, 2019:
hi! my 5 month old kitten has been gone for 3 nights now. he goes outside just about everyday and roams around, but never goes out of sight. this is very unlike him because he always gets scared outside. we have asked our neighbors, and looked everywhere we know to. he does not have on a collar or is microchipped. when he left it was early in the morning and it seemed as he just vanished because we saw him and then 10 minutes later we didn’t. therefore i don’t think there were any wild animals outside or something that could have hurt him. do you think he will return?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2019:
Your cat would be at a big disadvantage, but hopefully would run away when he realised that. Home should always feel like the safe place to return to for him.
Max mason on January 11, 2019:
What if your cat has no front claws and is in another cats territory.because im pretty sure thats the case with mine
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 15, 2018:
I am sorry your cat hasn’t come home yet. Unfortunately there is the possibility she has moved on with someone else to be gone so long, but I would also say never to totally give up hope, as cats sometimes turn up at home many months or even years after they first went missing.
Rene on December 15, 2018:
My cat has been gone for for 4 months now. I haven't found any signs of her being dead. Is there any hope she'll return?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 12, 2018:
Well unless the visiting cat is a stray, I would avoid feeding it because it may have owners of its own worried about it, and of course if you provide food you could very quickly find you’ve accidentally adopted a new cat. It could also scare your original cat away, so probably best to stop the feeding for a day or two and see what happens.
You could always set a humane cat trap, and bait it with food too. If you catch the wrong cats you can release them and they will be put off returning. Hopefully you would catch your own cat too if he’s still in the area. Usually animal rescue organisations can lend you a trap.
Zen Ben on November 11, 2018:
My cat has been missing for about three months. I was out of state working at the time and she got out while house sitter was taking care of home. By the time I returned, it had already been a month.
I put food out every day and night, and it gets eaten. But it appears that the cat eating the food is another cat.
By putting the food out, am I attracting another cat into the area and encouraging that cat to make claim to territory and therefore repelling my cat further away from the house?
Should I continue to feed the 'other' cat or take a break for a while?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 07, 2018:
You commented yesterday and my reply is below your latest comment. I hope it helps and that he’s home soon. I wouodn’t start to worry too much until he has been gone a few days to a week.
Bri on November 06, 2018:
My male cat has been gone for almost a day, he just dipped out of the blue, he has never dissapeared for long. We are very worried someone took him. He is not neutered or microchiped yet me and my mom were going to make an appointment that day, he is only wearing a blue collar and we have been waiting for him to show up but hasn’t, it’s almost been 2 days. Should I put up posters for him with a reward or is it too soon? He is about 7 months old and he’s a chartrux kitten, any advice on what to do is very well appreciated, thanks.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 06, 2018:
Hi Bri, I’m afraid all my suggestions are already in this article so I can’t really suggest anything else. I reallly hope your kitten comes home soon, and I wouldn’t panic yet, as if he isn’t neutered he is the right sort of age (6 months plus) where they start to go looking for females and explore their territory as a matter of course. Assuming you do get him back, I urge you to get him neutered and microchipped to help prevent this happening again (not to mention the injuries etc male cats tend to get from fighting with other cats over females, and from receiving aggressive reactions from females that aren’t ready to mate). Prevention really is better than having to go through the stress and worry of a missing cat.
Good luck, and do let me know when he comes home safe.
Bri on November 06, 2018:
Hello, I have a 7 month old gray kitten who left our yard one night ago, I am very worried that something happed to him because he is very calm and has never shown signs of aggression to nor me or my family. He is not microchiped or neutered, his collar dosnt have his pet tag with my info, i asked the neighbors if he was over because they let my cat into their house so he can play with their female cat, we told them to not feed him and to send him back if he went over but he said that he left a long time ago like around 12pm. I’m not sure if he’s dead or not and I’m really scared for him, my mom is going to ask the neighbors around and if nobody has him or info we’re plaing on going to the shelters, what do you recommend doing?, this is his first time leaving for a long time and I’m scared someone took him :(
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 04, 2018:
Hi Ell, Food is usually the way to go to earn a cat’s trust, so start feeding her if you can until she sees you as a food source and seeks you out.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 28, 2018:
That is a young age for him to even be away from his mother (8-12 weeks with the mother is ideal). At that age I imagine he is only hiding somewhere nearby and has not gone far. Check every cupboard, shed, garage, chimney etc, in the area as they are classic places for cats to hide out. Assuming you find him okay, I would advise keeping him in until he is at least 6 months old, and even then, only let him out once he is neutered and microchipped (to maximise his chances of safe return).
Ann on October 28, 2018:
My 2months old male cat has left the home for a day. Do you think he will come back?
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 18, 2018:
Hello ‘Hi’. There is always the possibility your cat is fine and just hiding out somewhere. I sincerely hope the coyote did not cross paths with your fur baby and that he will return home soon. Cats sometimes go missing for months, even years, and still turn up at home safely.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 18, 2018:
Hi Jess, hopefully she will still return and is just off on her adventures. Do let me know if you find her.
Hi, on October 18, 2018:
My cat has been missing for 5 days. The last time I let him out was shortly before being notified of a coyote in the neighborhood. I'm really scared. He had been staying inside for 2 weeks beforehand. He was just lazing around, sleeping in his litterbox, and just staying in. Now he is gone for 5 days with a coyote on the loose. Do you think he will come back?
Jess on October 13, 2018:
my little cat has been missing for maybe two or three months, she has gone missing before but came back after maybe a month... she's a young kitty maybe only two years old by now but she has a brother at home that is missing her dearly... there are foxes in the area but I'm trying not to think about that really.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 13, 2018:
Hi Kaela, that’s a really good sign. You might need to take your time to get her used to you again before she is completely back to her old self. A good way to get her trust would be to put food out for her. Do let me know if she turns up again and how you get on.
Kaela on October 13, 2018:
My cat has been missing for a year now, but i saw her just at the gate today but i got that excited that she ran away again. Do you think she will come back again?? thankyou
Dennis on October 09, 2018:
Mu cat ran off street we brought her own frind in.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 07, 2018:
Sorry to hear that Jennifer, but don’t panic yet, some cats can be gone months and still turn up.
Jennifer on October 06, 2018:
Hey. Little update** It’s been 2 weeks since our cat hasn’t come back. We are all pretty sure he’s gone now:(
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 29, 2018:
That is really worrying Katie. As you probably know, a cat new to a household or one that has recently moved house, should be kept in for at least 2 -8 weeks. Have you tried going back to where you got her from to see if she has tried to find her way back there again? Cats are remarkably adept at finding their way home even over many miles they may only have ever travelled in a car.
Hopefully he is nearby to you and just hiding and will come back to where you are now, but it is definitely a good idea to check his former location as well.
Katie Herts on September 29, 2018:
Thank you for this advice. I am particularly worried about my lost cat because he was only adopted 1 week ago. He is very shy and was hiding under the bed all week, he had only just started coming out from under the bed to see me a few times a day. My partner left the bedroom door and front door open for a short time Friday morning, it must have been long enough for the cat to bolt out the door! I have left food outside the front door and also the back door. I am not sure to forgive my partner for such a complacent action, I would NEVER have left these doors open - if we have lost this cat than I am not sure we deserve to adopt another. The cat is small and only 2 years old, he is so shy that I just know he will be hiding somewhere not wanting to make a sound. We have searched around houses nearby and are printing posters to pin up. I hope he comes back. :(
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 28, 2018:
I wish I could reassure you JBERRILL, but it does sound like she was unwell and may have gone to find a safe place to recover or be alone (hopefully not to die, although it is a possibility).
I hope she does return though and that she will be okay,
Let me know if she turns up
JBERRILL on September 28, 2018:
Hi, so I have a healthy 5 year old female spayed cat, who enjoys the outside ,but comes home every night.. Well she has been missing now for 3 days. Monday she had stayed In out bed all day, didn't think anything of it, just figured she was really tired. All night she stayed in bed , and next morning, she acted like she didn't want to get up, I tried to get her to eat and drink but she showed no interest. So I figured she must have a upset tummy. I was going to leave her inside for the day, decided I would put her in the spare room with food, water and a litter box, .. well I put her in there and next thing she was at the slding door , meowing like she always does wanting out, was hesitant to let her out, but she doesn't like to use the litter box and thought she must have to go potty. so I let her out, and that is the last I have seen of her.. Is there a chance she will still come home? I have so much guilt letting her out when she was not acting like herself.. and I am fearing she might of been really sick and could of had something seriously wrong with her and might of went somewhere to die :( again she showed no other sign of any kind of illnesses or injuries or in any kind of pain .. but I am worried sick and can't stop crying.. So just wanted your opinion if you think she is still safe and will or could come back home, or should I fear and except the worse ??
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2018:
Hi Jennifer, so pleased you are also against declawing. Your cat sounds like a tough cookie, so hopefully he can look after himself and is just off having fun. Please let me know if he comes home safely.
Jennifer on September 26, 2018:
Thank you for your fast reply! No we are not the ones who declawed him and are totally against declawing cats. We got him at an animal shelter. We live in Canada and there have been many bear sightings. Lets just hope nothing related with predators happend to him. He is very strong and brave even though he has no claws. He always hunts little birds and mice and can easily defend himself.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2018:
I am sorry to hear about this Jennifer. I wish I did have more suggestions , but when I wrote this article I put all my suggestions into it, leaving me none in reserve. I hope that by not finding any trace of your cat means he is most likely okay, but it does depend on the wild animals where you live (the US has far more wild animals likely to kill a cat than the U.K. does). I am afraid by being declawed he would have little in the way of defences and would be unable to climb rapidly up a tree to escape. In the U.K. declawing is illegal, and personally as an ex Veterinary Nurse / Assistant I really hate the practice and am pleased by being in the U.K. I never had to see any cat undergo such an operation. You may not have been the ones to get your cat declawed of course, as I don’t know if you had him from a kitten so. I am not accusing you of having this done to him.
Hopefully though he is absolutely fine and happily exploring and enjoying his adventure. I wouldn’t start to seriously worry until he has been gone at least a couple of weeks, and hopefully he will be back before then regardless.
Do let me know if you get any news.
Jennifer on September 25, 2018:
Hey! We’ve had our cat for over 8 years. He is an outdoor cat and is declawed. He has never left the house for more than 48h. We haven’t seen him in over 4 days and it’s starting to worry us since when he goes outside, he always spends him time in the same places. We searched the whole neighborhood and the streets and there is absolutely no sign of him. He also always comes when we shake the bag of treats and this time nothing happend. He is very important to our family and we were wondering if you had any suggestions on finding him back:) thank you.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 25, 2018:
Oh dear Camila, I am sorry to hear you are so worried. Your Mom may well be right, and if it is the time of year where cats are actively mating in your part of the world, then the call of nature can be too strong for most unneutered cats to resist. If this is the case he may be gone a week or even a month whilst he sources as many in season females as possible. Hopefully this is all he is doing and nothing bad has happened to him.
Assuming he does come back safely, I can only urge you to get him microchipped immediately, and if you must use a collar (something I prefer not to die to the safety risks if they get caught in branches etc), please make sure you do get one with the rapid release clip or the elastic insert and a name tag. Honestly I can’t urge enough the importance of microchipping and neutering. All too often there are cases like yours on this very thread, where the owners may well have still had their cats if they had been chipped and neutered, and at the very least hey might have found out what happened to their missing cat even if it wasn’t the news they wanted to receive (better than never knowing and always wondering if your lost cat is still alive somewhere or not).
I really do wish you the best of luck and hope you will let me know if your cat comes home again.
Camila martinez on September 24, 2018:
I've had my cat, carlos since he was born. I took care of his stray mom and when she gave birth to him and his siblings i kept him bc his mother ran away and never came back. We let him leave the house sometimes and the longest he's been away has been 4 days when he then came back sick but later got better. A couple days ago i let him and and has been missing for a week. Idk what to do , my mom says that hes looking for a queen since the one he use to be with ended up dying one day. I really hope he comes back save or if he even is alive anymore. Hes not microchipped. He has a collar but i has no safety buckle or ID tag. And hes not been nuetured even though hes like 1 1/2 years old. :'(
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 23, 2018:
I’m sure she will be fine Rene. She is just reaching the age where cats decide to go out exploring the world more and finding their territory etc. Good luck and I hope she comes home soon.
Rene on September 23, 2018:
My five month old kitten Lilly just went missing .Its been a day since we last seen her. Thanks for the article. I hope she is okay. Im worried but hope she will return. I live in a wooden mountiy place. All oh her brothers and sister are waiting for her. Thanks for the tips.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 18, 2018:
Hi ErikaBeth, I’m sorry to hear about your missing cat, and wish I could offer some useful suggestions. At the moment my best ideas are all in this article, so it is hard to come up with more ideas. What I would say, is that if he still hasn’t turned up by the time you move house, ask the new tenants, your current neighbours etc to contact you if they see him in the vicinity. At least that way you could return to collect him when he reappears.
ErikaBeth on September 18, 2018:
i recently moved into a house for school up in the backwoods of maine with 10 acres of land on a dirt road with very little traffic. when i first moved in i quickly realized there was a cat hanging around and sleeping on our porch, he approached me one day when i got home from school and was super friendly and loving. unlike any stray i'd ever met he loved belly rubs and to be picked up and you could even look in between his toes without him fussing.
i wanted to take him in and give him a loving home that he so clearly wanted but upon bringing him in the first time my roommate told me she was allergic. I started regularly feeding him mornings when i woke up and when id get back for the night for dinner squeezing in a lot of time to to spend with him on the porch since he was always there.
I brought him to the vet 2 fridays ago got him all his shots and made an appointment for a booster shot as well as to be microchipped and neutered at the beginning of october. The vet told me he was about a year old. The very next morning after having brought him to the vet he showed up on the porch unusually after i woke up and had a huge gash on his nose, a deep cut from what i now suspect was a raccoon. I brought him to the vet who put stitching powder on the cut and gave me antibiotics to give him to prevent infection for 10 days. I stayed with him in a friends dorm for the night so that he wouldn't be outside, my friend also had a male cat much older and neutered who did not like my cat and would not stop hissing at him, all the while my cat kept trying to befriend him and get close to him showing no signs of agitation on his end.
Ultimately that showed i needed a new solution on where to keep this cat safe. i slept in a tent with him on my porch the next night so that nothing came to attack him, although i did hear a lot of creatures stirring around nothing came to bother us. the next two nights i had him in my boyfriends dorm which technically can't have cats in it so it was a sneaky operation and on the third day we both had a lot of classes and didn't want him to be alone so i brought him back to the porch at 8 am and when i returned to get him at 5 pm he was gone and hasn't come back since. he has been gone for 6 days now, he missed his last 5 days of antibiotics which concerns me infection wise. I've set trail cameras up and the only thing thats been coming around is a big raccoon.
I'm moving out of my current place where he went missing from to a new cat friendly place just for him beginning in october which gives me less than 2 weeks for him to come back before i leave:(
Any suggestions ?? I've asked neighbors, walked around the woods shaking his bag of food, I call for him everyday and still nothing i am very stressed
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 02, 2018:
So sorry Sebastian has been missing so long. I am afraid cats are fickle creatures in some ways, and if they decide to wander off they don’t seem to care whether we owners worry ourselves sick or not, plus they don’t seem to miss us in the way a dog would. The amount of times people lose their cat for months, even years, only to find it has willingly moved in with someone else a few streets away and been living there happily the whole time. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong, it is just the way cats are. Hopefully he is okay and will still turn up in the months to come, or at the very least you will solve the mystery of where he went.
Meagan on September 01, 2018:
4 months ago my Sebastian disappeared, we live on a ten acre property in rural Tasmania, Australia. Sebastian was originally brought over from Vietnam where we found him 3 weeks old and abandoned. He was always a very odd cat, although desexed he would continue to chase queens and even adopt other kittens and bring them home (allowing them to attempt to suckle) we brought one of his adoptions with him to aus and they were Very close. Edwin (his child?) began to get a bit teenagery and bother Sebastian a bit, we also introduced a third cat to the household (Norwegian forest cat rescue) and the others didn't like him much, nothing extreme but just standoffish of each other. A month and a half after this, he disappeared. I take the cats for a walk in the afternoons and he was nowhere to be found. Edwin didn't seem concerned like anything had happened, I've scoured about 30 acres of field and forest but the only remains I've found are not cats. We bought trail cameras and have seen dozens of ferals but not my beastie. He's chipped and desexed, no collar. During the search I found his old collars which he had strategically pulled off on fences. The only different things that day were a new neighbour dog (he was secured on the balcony of their house) and it was very windy that day. Too windy for Eagles and too cold for snakes that day. No signs of struggle and my job requires me to record classes and I heard nothing on the tapes. Neighbours have seen nothing. One interesting thing happened, one night we saw two cats in the field, when we called out, one stopped and looked, the other ran off. Unfortunately the cams were 2km away in the bush. That night it ate the food left out and left a mangled possum tail at our door (a gift?). He was a gift giver and I hope it was him but why wouldn't he just stay :'(
Deb on August 31, 2018:
Thank you Cindy. I put 10 pairs of dirty socks under bushes and in safer areas on the community today within a 1km. I also took the dog with me because she pees a lot. The dog and cat have bonded as they play and the cat head bunts her all the time. My thought was that he pee also marks her scent that my cat would recognize. Perhaps a suggestion for others.
I didn’t call his name, just carried on a one sided normal non stressed conversation with the dog. People looked at me funny, carrying a bag of dirty socks and chatting away by myself, but if it gets my cat home safe, I don’t care. Thanks again for all your advice :)
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 31, 2018:
You must be incredibly worried about your cats wellbeing right now, but give it time, 8 day still isn’t all that long by a cats standards. Keep doing what you are doing, and try the socks idea as it could help.
Do let me know if he returns okay.
Deb on August 30, 2018:
Hello, This is a very positive article and full of great ideas. My cat hasn’t come home in 8 days.
He is an outdoor-access cat who is 7 years old. He was a rescue that was an indoor cat until two years ago. Everything was great before one day he was chasing a bug and the window screen popped out and he went screen surfing into the back yard. When I got home and saw what happened, I found him about 15 minutes later hiding under the stairs. He was quiet until I found him then he let howled with the biggest eyes and came out. Then....about 4 months later he discovered the dog door. I have an older dog with diabetes so she needs the door to go to the bathroom.
First thing I did was get one of those automatic doors that wouldn’t unlock unless the dogs collar was close. Worked for a bit, but the dog has a goofy habit of standing in the door so the cat would sneak out under her legs.
He is a street smart cat and doesn’t go near other people and I live in a community with 15km lanes. There are also at least 6 cats on my block but there are rarely any fights between all of them.
Anyway... back to him being missing. Usually he has a routine where he is indoors and sleeps with me and the dog. He’s a very affectionate cat but hides from strangers and other animals that have come into our home. I house sat a friends dog for a weekend and my cat stayed in the back yard the whole time and only snuck in to eat. When the dog left he was in like nothing happened.
So, last Tuesday, which was 8 days ago, he was sleeping when I went to work and when I go home he was out. Usually he is home between 9 and 10 and I had called for him to come home around 8 because that night was fireworks less than 1km away. We have 6 nights of them over a two week span every year so it’s not like my pets haven’t heard them before. I could get him to come in but figured just like when someone fires up a lawnmower or motorbike he would come in like a rocket as he always did. That night he didn’t. Now, he has been out over night on occasion and there has been times when I haven’t seen him for two days maximum, but I always knew he had come home by his food dish.
So after the Tuesday fireworks, there was fireworks on the Thursday and then the Saturday, so I am thinking that he bolted when they happened and is scared to come home because it happened two other nights!
I have gone around the community every day in the morning and evening. Made ads, checked with animal services, vets, and even the City DOA binder (never want to see that again). I don’t know what else to try. No one has seen him and we checked everywhere. I even get up on my roof and call for him.
It’s not like him at all. I was thinking of taking some dirty socks and putting them at the ends of all the lanes in case he bolted farther. There are 370 homes in my community so its not a small area to search.
Perhaps a $100 reward if he’s found?
I assume it’s fireworks as that’s the only thing that was different that day. I should have stayed home that day to make sure he didn’t get out and if (when) he does come home, I think a separate door will need to installed with acces to an enclosure for him and the dog and then he can only use tha main dog door if he’s on a leash. But it would have to be a harness because he’s Houdini at getting out of collars. Sorry for the long post. Miss him and hope he’s just out mousing until he’s sure the fireworks are gone.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 22, 2018:
What a horrible situation to be in. I really do feel for you and how anxious you must be.right now. It is a tough situation to find an easy solution for, and bearing in mind the fact she is an indoor cat a lot of the usual ideas wouldn’t apply. Sadly it sounds as if you are already doing everything possible to find her, and I can only wish you the very best of luck in your search and your recovery.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 22, 2018:
3 days still isn’t a long time for a cat to go out for, even if it is somewhat out of character. I would try not to worry until she has been missing at least a week or more, and then if she still isn’t home follow as much of the advice as is relevant in my article.
Theresa on August 21, 2018:
Great ideas but what do you do if it's been almost 3 months and you were traveling with your cat when in a car accident 30 miles from home and that's when the the cat ran from the accident site.Being and indoor cat, she has no idea where she is and has no scent trails to follow. I've been back to the site day and nite, left food, her litter, my clothes, her blanket and her cat nip toys, put up posters, contacted vets and spca in area. Most people in the neighborhood have been very kind, but I have lessened the amount of times in the last month I'm going there . I myself am struggling still with a concussion. I'm devastated though that I don't know if she is ok, living outside in the recent heat wave and now all this rain or was she taken in by someone. In the last 2 weeks, I decided to put individual flyers in over 150 mailboxes in the surrounding area thinking someone did take her in and didn't realize who she belongs to. She is not chipped and didn't have a tagged collar because she was an indoor cat. We were going on vacation when we were hit from behind. Her name is Seaweed and she is my best friend. Do you have any further suggestions? Thanks for your help-Theresa
Natalie Binks on August 21, 2018:
Please help with advice on my baby girl who has just disappeared! She is 14 years old and has NEVER strayed. She is not adventurous but does like to sit in the sun under the pergola. Her personality has deemed her as a diva, hand fed, likes her throne (comfy chair), not much into bringing home gifts anymore just likes to sit pretty and be a diva. Im at a loss, as of today its been 3 days now and she is gone, no where on our property and not within a one mile radius (from what I can tell)... please give me your thoughts and ideas...what do i do next????
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 21, 2018:
There isn’t really a set limit Luna. I have known cats go missing for days, months and even years, that still return home eventually. Never give up hope x
Luna on August 20, 2018:
How long can a cat go missing because my cat has been gone for 14 days
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 19, 2018:
I really hope Rumplestiltskin comes home again one day, and as an outdoor cat he may well have gone ‘walkabout’ for a while. It has been the breeding season, so assuming he hasn’t been neutered he could well be off having liaisons with various females, and may well reappear once the weather cools down again.
Georgie on August 19, 2018:
One of my barn cats ( Rumpelstiltskin ) who is super friendly has gone missing and has been gone for a couple months. I keep thinking he will come back but now I'm thinking the worst. Someone might have stolen him..everyone who meets him loves him. He's a real sweetheart who I love dearly. Maybe something really did get him and he's dead. If I put out his favorite food my other cats will eat it. I see so many missing cat papers out and it seems like no one gets their cat back that way.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 11, 2018:
Try not to worry too much. Your cat has probably gone off somewhere safe to have her kittens, and cats are pretty good at findng safe places to hide. I expect she will soon bring them home to you once she has given birth and they are old enough to be moved. Do let me know when she comes home.
debbie on August 10, 2018:
Help! My pregnant cat who is about 8 months old has been missing for almost two months! i have lot of wooded area around me, I have checked all the sheds etc for her, but no sign. some of the wooded area dangerous to check due to snakes.. When I thought she was closer to delivery I was going to put her inside,but she went missing before I could. Her mom and sibling, who she always snuggle with are still outside. How long will mama cats stay away? I am heartbroken that I didnt put her inside and protect her. Thank you!
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 03, 2018:
I admit that it doesn’t look hopeful after 3 years Aiden, especially if he was taken by a neighbour and has settled in with them. It is better than thinking he has died though. Honestly my advice would always be that if you can’t afford to get your pet microchipped or neutered, then it is best not to take on the pet. Keeping cats and dogs is expensive, but the microchipping and neutering are the very basics you must be able to afford. I also recommend pet insurance from day one, because nothing is worse than not being able to afford the vet’s bill that can save your much loved pets life and having to have it put down as a result.
Hopefully your cat will return one day (it has happened before after pets have been missing well over a year or more), but if that doesn’t happen, just keep in mind that it is a bad idea to take on a cat or dog unless you can afford them, even if your intentions are good and you have loads of love to give.
Wishing you a good result and that your cat is safe and well somewhere.
Aiden F on August 03, 2018:
Any tips on how to find my cat gone for 3 years my mom checked for 6 month's and assume our neighbour hood took him in cause he had no collar microchip and wasnt neutered we could not afford it. I dont like to think he is drad he was smart and etc plus in our neigbourhoid my uncles cat got stolen by thid lady who still lives in the neibourghood he got it back thou.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 29, 2018:
You should definitely get him neutered Jennifer. Entire males will wander for many miles looking for females, they will end up fighting with other males, and unreceptive females, risking injuries that could become infected, not to mention the risk of being hit by vehicles whilst searching for new mating partners. The other advantage to neutering is he won’t spray to mark his territory which is far more pleasant for all concerned.
Then of course you have to consider all the unwanted kittens he may be fathering, maybe destined to end up in shelters or in homes that are far from ideal... or worse, on the street unwanted, and possibly producing yet more unwanted kittens.
Jennifer on April 29, 2018:
I have a male black cat, not neutered. He left out Friday night and was gone for 9 days. He returned home meowing and ate really good upon his arrival. I thought for sure his 9 lives may have been up because he has came home injured a few times. I'm glad to see him return though, we missed him. I pry should get him neutered :(
Elizabeth on April 22, 2018:
Hi Cindy, thank you for your insight. He's a healthy cat, he showed no signs of slowing down or illness. I'm sure there would be at least some signs of fur or struggle, but I haven't found anything. I'm really hoping he comes back or we find him! Thank you!
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 22, 2018:
Hi Elizabeth, so sorry to hear your elderly cat has gone missing. I don’t live in a place where they have coyotes, but I do know enough to know they will take small cats or dogs in a quick bite, not necessarily leaving any trace as they carry the prey back to where they need it to be. It is worrying that your cat was quite old, therefore maybe less likely to be able to escape. Strangely enough I was only watching a programme last night where a person’s Daschund dog was attacked by a coyote and he caught it on his security cameras. The coyote ran off with his dog, but because the other two dogs chased after it, it dropped the Daschund which ran back onto the house. Sadly it had to be put to sleep at the vets due to a number of serious injuries which included a punctured lung.
Maybe your cat just knew it was his time to pass, and went off to do it quietly somewhere (as you said, he is quite old)
I can only hope this is a case where he has just gone walkabout and will find his way home when he is ready.
Please let me know if your fur baby comes home again. X
Elizabeth on April 22, 2018:
My cat has been missing for 4 days now. We have woods right outside our house and I heard coyotes the other day. I've checked the surrounding woods/areas and I found some of what seemed to be coyote footprints, but I haven't seen any scat or fur/signs of struggle. Do you think he's still exploring or did he get scared and get stuck somewhere? He's a pretty old cat, around 14-15 years. He is neutered aswell. I really hope he didn't get caught by anything.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 13, 2018:
Hi Joanne, can I ask if he is neutered or entire? If he is entire it isn’t surprising he is missing as he is probably seeking out females to mate with. If not, I still wouldn’t panic, my cat went missing for over 2 weeks when he was under a year old but still turnedup without a care in the world.
Joanne on April 13, 2018:
My cat Henry has been missing nearly 2 weeks.. I'm totally gutted. He was last seen last week sneaking into someone's house to eat some cat food.
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 12, 2018:
Don’t worry too much yet Allie. Depending on where you live in the world, it is spring now, and if she isn’t neutered for any reason this could explain her absence, as she may be looking to mate. Either way, a week isn’t a long time for a cat to be missing, and they generally turn up without a care in the world.
Allie on April 12, 2018:
My cat has been gone for a whole week, I live in a neighborhood with many cat colonies and many people tell me they have been looking for her but there have been no sightings whatsoever. I'm really worried and upset.
[email protected] on March 23, 2018:
My cat ran away with a male cat
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 22, 2018:
Apologies for not replying sooner, but I have only just seen your comment. I really wouldn’t worry too much about your young cat. 6 months old is the age they do tend to want to explore, and I am sure she won’t stay away for long. Your neighbours daughter is very unlikely to suffer any kind of allergic reaction to the cat unless she is in the same room as it, rather than it being under her house. The rain shouldn’t be an issue either if the cat is under the house, but even outside, many cats seem to quite happily just sit in the rain and make no attempt to shelter from it. See if you can borrow a trap and bait it up next to the access point under your neighbours house. Hopefully when everything goes quiet your hungry kitty will head into the trap for food and get caught. A local animal charity can probably lend you a trap if you contact them. Good luck.
Xavier Ocasio on March 20, 2018:
Hi Cindy I am an 11 year old kid who, right now ,accidentally let out his 6 month old kitten while trying to get my other cat. She is under our neighbors house which is a problem because their daughter is allergic to cats. Our other cat went under too, which what we think is her trying to get my kitten. We also tried luring her with wet-food but it didn't work. The worst part is that I live in an area where it is raining right now. Do you have any good advice? because i feel like I'm going to be sick
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 04, 2018:
I don’t know for sure Marie, I think I hear my cats meow on occasions when they aren’t home, but they still come home afterwards, however I have also known people who have deceased cats that swear they still hear them or feel them jump on the bed at night for sometime afterwards. Hopefully in your case she will come home as per normal.
Marie on March 03, 2018:
Why did I hear my cat's meow at home but when I called and search for her she's not at home? I asked my dad and my mum did they hear the same they said yes. Is it our unconscious brain doing it or is it that she's no more and she has come to see us ? Please help!
Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 07, 2018:
So sorry to hear this Anna, you must be worried sick about him. Hopefully he has just got s bit carried away with the adventure he is having and will still turn up again. When he does try to keep him indoors for a minimum of 2 weeks, or better still 6 weeks so he truly identifies with where his new home is.
Good luck and please let me know if he turns up safe and well.
Creating a flyer
One of the best aids in your search is a good flyer that you can post throughout your neighborhood. Be sure that it includes a good photo of your pet and a thorough description. Paste the flyers to fluorescent poster board, and write "LOST PET" in large black letters at the top. If your pet was lost in an area other than your neighborhood, post the flyers in the area where your pet was lost, as well as the area around your home, since animals often find their way back to their home neighborhood.
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You need to be trained to understand animal behavior so that when you do find a missing animal, you can keep yourself and the animal as well as anyone else around safe at all times. Depending on where you are, you will need to be certified by local authorities to practice your profession. For more information, visit Missing Animal Investigators of America.
Things to be aware of
If you are looking to become a pet detective, there are a few things you need to know. Most requests are for lost animals are either for dogs or cats. A number of lost animals land up at local animal shelters, so it is always a good place to start with. You have to be prepared for disappointments since a good number of animals are never found. Also, lost or difficult to find pets will likely be scared and may be aggressive.
In addition, you may need to be out at odd times of the day and night. However, overall it is a highly rewarding profession, one that brings joy every time a missing pet is found and reunited with its family.
Must-Do Tips for Finding a Lost Cat
The following is an excerpt from Petfinder’s monthly Ask the Experts Q&A on Facebook. Like our Facebook page to learn about upcoming Q&As.
Q: Are there specific places lost cats are likely to hide? What would you say is most important to do in the first hour when a cat’s disappeared? —Julie S.
A: Probably the most critical thing to do within the first few hours of losing a cat is to start getting permission from your neighbors to enter their yards to search for the missing cat.
When Indoor Cats Get Lost:
- Determine the escape point: When an indoor-only cat escapes outside, the best technique to use is to determine the escape point, like perhaps a door found cracked open.
- Follow the edge of the house or building: A panicked cat will typically follow along the side of the house, rather than risk slinking or bolting out into the open. However, this depends on what happens the moment that cat escapes — if the mail man is walking up the sidewalk the cat could bolt and run directly across the street. But most times, indoor cats will either slink left or slink right following the edge of the house.
- Look for the closest hiding spots: Following the edge of the house to the right, look for the first hiding place — deck, access under a house, shed with opening, open garage, etc. — and focus on that area. Then do the same to the left.
- Place humane traps, cameras or food in those spots: If you don’t see or find the cat, you can put humane traps there, wildlife cameras, or even a plate of food at first to see if it vanishes.
The case of a lost cat is an investigation. The investigative question with displaced indoor-only cats that escape outside — or even outdoor-access cats that bolt in panic — is, “where is the cat hiding?”
When Indoor-Outdoor Cats Get Lost:
When an outdoor-access cat vanishes, it is very different. The investigative question for outdoor-access cats that are missing is “What happened to the cat?” It means something has happened to the cat to interrupt her customary behavior of coming home. The cat could be:
- Transported out of the area
- Taken by predators
- Intentionally removed by a cat-hating neighbor.
Missing Pet Partnership
With these considerations in mind, you can plan your strategy for recovering your cat if he is still alive or to bring closure if it is discovered he's not. Time is of the essence, and you may need to perform all of the following actions:
- Check your yard first:Indoor cats that sneak out usually stay nearby in their own yards, or hide under decks, foundations, and shrubbery.
- Use a baby monitor on your porch: Leave a bowl of food on your porch with an electronic baby monitor or other home monitoring system targeted on the bowl.
- Create flyers with pictures of your cat: Offer a reward, and distribute the flyers door-to-door in at least a three-block radius. In addition, post the flyer in store windows and on telephone poles.
- Alert your animal control officer: Give them a flyer and ask them to on the lookout for your cat, dead or alive.
- Call local veterinarians: It is possible a guardian angel brought your cat in with injuries ask the vets if you can post a flyer in their clinics.
- Visit your local animal shelter: Leave a flyer and ask if a cat meeting the description has been brought in, alive or dead.
- Advertise: Most local newspapers and shopping guides will allow free "lost and found" ads. Also, check the newspaper listing for "found cats."
- Post to local lost/found internet and social media pages: Some communities sponsor websites specifically designed for lost/missing pets.
- Check with local rescue organizations: Ask for permission to visit foster homes that may have recently taken in a cat meeting the description.
- Hire a pet detective: Chose a pet detective trained to track lost animals through the use of technology.