My Cat Is Missing. What Do I Do?

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It could happen to anyone. A window screen comes loose. An exterior door is open a few seconds too long. Before you know it, your indoor cat has gone missing and you’re feeling devastated, frustrated, and anxious. 

Pets get lost. Despite our best efforts to ensure this doesn’t happen, at some point, it will. When that happens, use the ideas below as your guide to bring your lost cat home

Think Like a Cat

Put yourself in your cat’s mind. If your indoor cat is outside alone for the first time, they’re probably scared. When an indoor cat makes a dash for the door, they tend to stick close to home and find a hiding place. With that in mind, you want to relocate your kitty without overwhelming them.

As you search for your cat, look for tiny, dark, hidden-away spots that a cat would consider to be comforting and safe. Sheds, garages, and under porches, cars, and large shrubs are a few common places cats will take refuge when lost. 

Keep in mind that indoor cats who find themselves outside of their homes are often petrified. They most likely will not respond when you call them or shake their beloved bag of treats. Even a cat who regularly comes when called is unlikely to move or even meow when they’re outside scared. You want to coax them out of their hiding spots calmly and patiently. 

It’s important to note that cats will behave differently depending on their personalities and living situations. This is crucial to consider when looking for your lost cat. Learn more about finding cats who freely roam outdoors or shy cats here.

Set Up a Humane Trap

Many local shelters and rescues (including Cat Adoption Team) offer humane trap rentals. Depending on the size of your home or property, you might choose to rent a few to cover all of your bases. Then, set the traps up around your house and yard. Use your cat’s favorite food in each trap to entice them. Cover the back end of each trap with a towel or blanket to help keep your cat calm once the trap door locks them inside. Check the traps regularly so you can get your kitty back to safety as soon as they are caught.

Get the Word Out

From flyers and posters to digital postings, tell everyone you know about your missing cat. To successfully spread the word about your lost cat on social media and with printed materials: 

  • Provide pictures and a physical description of your cat.
  • Have a direct method to contact you at any time of day. 
  • If you are able, provide a reward to anyone who brings your cat home and boldly share that a reward is available.  
  • Make posts and printed materials brightly colored, simple, and to the point. 

Handout flyers to neighbors who walk by your home. Put up posters on community boards at nearby libraries, veterinary offices, grocery stores, cafes, places of worship, rec centers, restaurants, convenience stores, gyms, and anywhere else that will allow you to post. 

Other ways to publicize your lost pet:

  • Connect with every local shelter and rescue in your area. 
  • Fill out the missing pet consultation form on the Mission Reunite website and on Finding Rover.  
  • Use every social media channel available to you, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and NextDoor. Post updates about finding your cat as often as possible. 
  • Join local lost pet groups on Facebook to work directly with people near you. 

Don’t Give Up

It’s hard not to become disheartened when our favorite feline gets lost. But stick with it. Keep searching your home, property, area several times a day. If you need help with the search, ask family, friends, and neighbors to lend a hand. 

Also, continue scouring “found pet” listings on Craigslist, Facebook, and NextDoor. Regularly post updates on social media. Stay in touch with your county’s animal control department along with local shelters and rescues

In a survey conducted by the ASPCA, 74% of lost cats are recovered after getting lost. These odds significantly increase if your cat is microchipped and wears a collar with a tag that has your contact information. The more you search for your missing pet, the higher chance that you’ll be reunited with your cat. Stay positive and follow these tips to bring your lost feline home. 
For more information about finding a lost cat, check out the Mission Reunite website.

About Cat Adoption Team

Cat Adoption Team (CAT) is the largest cat shelter in the Pacific Northwest. We offer adoption, foster care, and veterinary services to homeless cats and kittens.

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