13 Ideas to Help You Find Your Missing Cat and Prevent Them from Wandering Off Again
Keep calm, take a deep breath, and maintain your composure when searching for a missing cat. According to experts, indoor cats may be closer than you think, lurking out close to your house under bushes, beneath porches, or in the backyard of your neighbor.
No pet owner wants to have to deal with the task of looking for a lost cat. Bianca L. immediately took the recommended actions after realizing her cat Extra had escaped a motel room, including searching the immediate area, putting familiar objects outside, and turning to social media for additional eyes. After 31 days, Extra went back home.
Additionally, a lost cat does not indicate that you were a bad pet parent. Cats are perceptive, cunning animals that can quickly escape from harnesses, windows, and doors. Here, we discuss how to narrow your search, our experts’ top advice for finding a missing cat, and Bianca’s success story.
How to Find a Lost Cat
Dr. Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior specialist and consultant at Feline Minds, advises being proactive and persistent when searching for a lost cat. If you don’t know where to begin looking for your lost cat, use these advice from the pros.
Do a physical search
According to reports, a physical search is the best strategy for finding a missing cat. Be careful to call your cat’s name or make sounds that they often respond to while you take in your surroundings (shaking a treat bag, kissy noises, etc.). Avoid “drive-by” searches because you run the risk of frightening your cat or missing out on slow or undetectable movements.
Here is where you should search:
- Search inside your entire house. Check every nook and cranny again, shake your cat’s favorite treats, and crack open a can of food if you didn’t see your cat dash out the door.
- Search your entire house exterior. Move the search outside right away after you’re sure your cat isn’t still inside. Searching nearby hiding places like bushes, open garages, sheds, under porches, cars, and decks is the first step in locating a lost indoor cat. When an indoor-outdoor or free-roaming cat disappears, it’s probably because they were startled or chased from their territory, which caused them to become disoriented and lose their way.
- Look through your neighbor’s garage, shed, and garden. These are all excellent hiding places for cats, who like to hide close to their homes. Make sure to ask your neighbors if you can search their property or have them search their property for your cat before searching these areas.
- At dawn and dusk, observe. Being crepuscular rather than nocturnal, your cat is more likely to feel secure at dawn and twilight, according to Dr. Delgado. They could emerge from concealment in search of food and become more approachable.
- Purchase a security or wildlife camera. Bianca was aware that she had a limited amount of time for physical searching. Bianca installed a trail camera to keep an eye on activities in a woodland area she had a particular interest in since stray cats frequented it. Dr. Delgado continues by saying that cameras watching your yard can detect and notify you if your cat emerges from hiding at night.
Get help from your community
To increase the likelihood that your cat will be found, enlisting the assistance of friends, neighbors, or a professional is a great strategy. The likelihood that your cat will be found safe and sound will only rise with more eyes scanning the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Make sure anyone looking for your cat is aware to avoid a sudden approach or attempting to grab them. Your cat might become alarmed by this and run away.
Here’s who can help:
- Hire a pet detective. A pet detective trained in Missing Animal Response (MAR) should be sought out. The Missing Animal Response Network has an accessible directory of local experts who have undergone MAR training.
- Survey the area and enlist nearby residents. If your cat isn’t on your property, you should start looking in your neighbors’ yards as well. Dr. Delgado advises “knocking on neighbor’s doors and asking if you can check in their yard for your cat.” Anywhere your cat might hide, ask your neighbors to check underneath their houses or in their garages.
- Contact to the local veterinarians, shelters, and rescues. If your cat is lost, call the appropriate authorities and provide a description of the animal. For your cat, check in frequently.
Use social media and advertisements
A tried-and-true technique for locating a lost cat is flyering. Additionally, social media has made it easier than ever to let people know about your lost friend. Make certain the information on the flyers or social media posts is understandable, contains pertinent contact information, and provides guidance on when and how someone should approach your cat if they see them.
Here are some ways to spread the word:
- Utilize social media. Consider neighborhood-focused websites like NextDoor and Craigslist, where the neighborhood is lively. Post a recent photo of your pet to regional Facebook and Reddit communities. TikTok and Instagram are also excellent for reaching out to pals.
- Register your cat on pet finder websites. A free online tool for discovering missing cats is called Petco Love Lost. It operates by analyzing your pet’s face and comparing it other animals in your neighborhood.
- Make and put-up fliers. Hand out flyers to them personally to go the extra step. When flyers are disseminated and mounted on poles, cats are more likely to be discovered. Include your contact information, a recent, clear photo of your cat, and a reward.
Set up a trap
Another efficient way to get your cat home is by trapping it. But be sure to read up on how to set up a trap correctly and what to do after your cat enters the trap. As soon as you become aware that your cat is missing and after conducting a thorough search, effective traps are set up.
Here are some tips on trapping:
- Set up a feral cat trap. Dr. Delgado suggests putting the trap close to the house and baiting it with food to draw the animals in.
- Put your cat’s favorite things or food outside (not the litter box). Cats’ sense of smell is one of their strongest senses since they have 40 times more olfactory receptors than humans. Placing objects with familiar scents close to your entrance and the wild cat trap will help you lure a wayward cat to your house. Bianca put the doggo sister’s harness on the motel door and a comforter from home on the car in an effort to direct Extra back to the strange motel.
- Lure them in with their favorite foods or treats. A cat’s favorite foods and treats, especially wet food, are one of the best ways to entice it to return home. Additionally, you can try to entice them home with their preferred human foods, such as tuna, salmon, chicken, or anything else your cat enjoys.
Can Cats Find Their Way Home?
There are several accounts of dogs returning home on their own, but what about cats? Yes, owing to homing instincts, there is a potential that your cat will find its way back if it gets lost. Cats and other animals can use the Earth’s magnetic field, the stars’ positions, and the angle of the sun to point them in the direction of home.
A Florida cat that got lost while on a family vacation trekked 200 miles to get home, which may seem nearly impossible. Another cat, Ninja, went 850 miles over the course of a year to get back to his previous residence because he was so homesick after he and his family relocated.
However, this does not imply that you won’t need to assist your cat in getting home. Similar to humans, some cats are born with a greater sense of direction than others, and if they have spent time in a shelter, have changed residences several times, or come across hazardous obstructions, they may get disoriented.
What Are the Chances of Finding My Cat?
The first week after a cat goes missing is when chances of discovering it are highest. The quest gets harder after the first week, but it’s still feasible. In the first two months after birth, most cats that were discovered alive were, in accordance with a 2018 University of Queensland research.
According to the same survey, 75% of indoor cats were discovered within 500 meters of their last known location. Missing outdoor cats are often located farther away, at a distance of roughly 1,600 meters. Using professionals and flyers to locate a lost cat had lower success rates than doing a physical search.
This does not, however, imply that you should limit your search strategy to one kind. Extra made it home because to his microchip, said Bianca. “I still cry when I think back to the time my phone rang.” Less than a mile from the hotel where he had gone missing, Extra had been located. He had strayed into a kind neighbor’s yard, who had picked him up and taken him to the neighborhood veterinary clinic, where his microchip had been checked.
Pro-tip: Take advantage of your familiarity with your cat. You might want to include information on the sounds, foods, and actions your cat prefers or detests when posting flyers.
How Can I Prevent My Cat From Getting Lost?
Limiting your cat’s time spent wandering free outside is the easiest approach to keep it from becoming lost. By placing window perches, constructing or purchasing a catio, and teaching them to walk on a collar and leash, cats may safely enjoy the outdoors. Pick up and place your cat outdoors if it has been trained to walk on a leash and in a harness. One quiet entrance should be set aside for outside outings with leashes.
By having your cat’s microchip implanted at the clinic and maintaining it, you may be ready for the worst. As your cat explores, you should also think about getting a collar, an ID tag, and a tracking device for pets. The Last Cat Kit by pet investigator Kim Freeman, which Bianca also acknowledges as a useful resource.
Try these strategies to keep your cat from venturing outside if it stays indoors only:
- Your cat should be clicker-trained with an emphasis on spot-training, name recognition, and recall.
- By saying hello to your cat once you are inside your home and away from the entrance, you may make the entryway a “no fun zone.”
- When there is a high volume of traffic entering and leaving, install pet or baby gates or limit access to entrances.
- Your cat needs to be neutered. Cats who have been fixed are less inclined to roam, according to Brown University.
What to Do When You’ve Found Your Cat
Due to their curiosity, cats can wind up in all kinds of odd situations, which frequently leads to a lost cat. Reach out to animal control or the fire department for assistance if your missing cat winds up in a difficult-to-reach or hazardous location. Your excitement at seeing your favorite cat might be difficult to contain. But keep in mind that your cat is probably still very scared, so remain composed and speak gently.
You’ll want to get back to your routine as soon as possible once your cat and cat are reunited. But first, take them to the veterinarian for a thorough examination. Your veterinarian can treat dehydration and offer advice on how to gradually get back into your routine while checking for fleas, ticks, and other parasites.
Additionally, if you find a cat that isn’t yours, take responsibility for the situation by having the cat’s microchip checked and scanned, posting photos of the cat on social media, and registering the cat on lost pet websites like Petco Love Lost. Someone’s entire world can change with just a moment of your time, says Bianca. “You can assist pet owners in reunifying their family,”