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How to Find a Missing Cat: 8 Strategies to Bring Her Home

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I have rescued and fostered many pets over the years. Keeping my pets healthy and happy is my number one priority.

Sometimes a cat will come out for canned food.

Sometimes a cat will come out for canned food.

What to Do to Find Your Missing Cat

If your cat is missing, there are actions you can take right away for a better chance of being reunited with your pet.

Here are some simple steps you can take to find your cat.

1. Put Up Flyers

Make sure that you create many flyers to place around your neighborhood. Here are some tips about how to make effective flyers.

  • To ensure you get good visibility, choose brightly colored paper and include only basic information.
  • The flyer should be clear enough to read from a distance as people drive or walk past.
  • Think about natural traffic patterns and make sure the flyers face the way people walk or drive.

2. Ask Neighbors

Call or talk to people that live near your house or apartment. Sometimes, a cat gets scared and hides under a porch or deck. Ask them if you can check those areas.

3. Open Your Garage

If possible, leave your garage slightly open. Put some food, water, and a blanket out. It is possible that your cat is hiding around your house.

When cats get into new environments, they are often scared and confused. They may try to come back home and need to have access if you aren’t around.

Include just enough information in your flyer.  Use brightly colored paper and bold lettering.

Include just enough information in your flyer. Use brightly colored paper and bold lettering.

4. Get Canned Food

Purchase some canned food (the stinkier the better) and carry it around to possible hiding places near your house.

You can also leave some open on a quiet patio or deck and watch to see if your cat returns for it.

5. Make Sure It Is Calm and Quiet

If your cat has escaped, make sure that your yard and area around your house is quiet. If there are a lot of people out, making noise, it may scare her off.

Even if they are trying to help, your cat will most likely respond to the person that she is most comfortable with.

Call for her in a clear and calm voice and listen to see if she responds.

6. Keep Checking

Cats often show back up at unexpected times so keep checking around your house and at your doors every few hours.

What to Do If It Has Been More Than 24 Hours

If none of the above steps worked, it may be time to expand your search area.

1. Contact Local Vets

Call all the local vets’ offices within a 10-mile radius and ask if anyone has reported a found cat. Ask if you can leave a description of the cat and your phone number with the office.

2. Go to Your Local Animal Control and Shelters

Most county animal control organizations will not verify if any animal that matches the description of your cat is at their facility.

It is best to go or have a friend or family member familiar with the animal to go and check every day.

Cats are great at hiding and may not be picked up or turned in for several days to weeks.

Dos and Don'ts of Finding a Missing Cat

DoDon't

Put Up Flyers

Be Loud

Talk to Neighbors

Forget Your Own Safety

Visit County Shelters

Panic

Ask Local Vets

Give Up

Humane traps may be needed if your cat is scared or needs to be captured quickly.

Humane traps may be needed if your cat is scared or needs to be captured quickly.

How to Catch Your Cat

Sometimes the cat is too scared even for her owner to catch her. If you know where she is but she is too timid or scared to come out, consider purchasing a humane trap or renting one. Many shelters will rent the traps to you.

You can put some of your cat’s favorite food in there and then step back and stay quiet. Sometimes it is even necessary to leave the area and then come back.

There are also professional trappers you can hire.

Remember that your cat may have been traumatized by being lost and may be too scared to be handled.

Remember Your Own Safety

If someone calls and indicates they may have found your lost cat, it is important to remember that you still need to meet safely. If the person has the cat at their home, have a couple of friends or family members go with you to retrieve the pet.

Never agree to meet someone alone or give them too much personal information when they call.

If the cat is captured and the caller is able to transport it, meet at a vet’s office where the exchange of the cat can take place.

Remember that, unfortunately, there are those that will try to scam distraught pet owners.

Once Your Cat Is Back Home

It is important to schedule a vet visit once your cat is found and returned to you. The cat may have been injured or exposed to hazardous elements or diseases.

If you have other cats or pets, keep the found cat away from the others until he can be examined by a vet.

Also remember that if he has been outside, he may have fleas that can easily spread to other animals and inside your house.

Once your cat is back, it needs to be checked out by your vet.

Once your cat is back, it needs to be checked out by your vet.

How to Prevent a Next Time

Once you find your sweet cat, there are ways you can help to ensure that this doesn’t become a problem again.

  • Keep your cat inside: If you usually let your cat outdoors, consider stopping the practice. Cats that go outside, even for a few hours, face a whole host of dangers and problems that indoor cats don’t face
  • Get your cat an I.D.: A collar with a rabies tag and an owner phone number are great. Consider going one step further and having your cat microchipped. Microchips are tiny computer chips that can be safely inserted into your cat by a vet. The chip can be read by special scanners at shelters and vets’ offices. Each chip has a unique number that matches up to information you provide in a database.

You Can Do This

You can find your cat!

Be proactive and thorough in your search. Cover all possibilities.

Once your cat is back with you, remember to remove the flyers you put up and contact the vets’ offices to let them know your cat has been returned.

Don’t give up.

Use a Microchip to Find Your Lost Cat

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Caitlyn on July 12, 2019:

my cat has been missing for 12 weeks do you have any help for that please l miss him too much to let him go

asha on March 06, 2019:

my cat is lost and it has been missing for 2 days we done the stuff but sitll no news

L C David (author) from Florida on April 19, 2013:

Thanks again Lucky Cats. One of the mistakes I see many people making is trying to put up flyers with too much information or makes the print too small and hard to read.

Liz Moore, I agree that people need to post good news or at the very least take down their lost cat flyers once the cat is home. Glad Barry made it home even if he was annoyed!

Liz Moore on April 19, 2013:

Good article, Kathy! I think Barry went missing one weekend about 3 years ago, probably when someone did some sort of work that involved opening and closing outside buildings, like a garage or shed. When I canvassed the neighborhood, I asked people to specifically check such buildings. Sure enough, when he finally appeared, he was very dirty, very hungry, and very mad (annoyed!) Second thing, NOBODY does this, but I wish people who post flyers would post the good news, too! I put a sign on my tree: "Barry the Cat is home!"

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on April 19, 2013:

Another wonderfully complete and well written hub! This one, about intelligent and proper approach to finding your lost companion kitty, compliments perfectly others of yours regarding smart and caring animal care. I am right there with you. Thank you for writing this easy to follow, reasonable and well thought out hub....you've done a great service for those searching for lost kitties and the cats, themselves. LIKED on FB. UP Awesome, Useful Interesting!!!