How to Find Your Missing Cat
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.
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.
© 2011 Cindy Lawson