Tips on How to Find a Lost Cat
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Tips on How to Find a Lost Cat

How to find a lost cat. What to do when your cat is missing. Steps to take to get your lost cat back home. Places to look for a lost or missing cat. How long do animal shelters keep stray cats before putting them to sleep? What to include on a lost cat poster. Who to contact when a cat is missing or lost? Tips on recovering a lost pet cat.

If your cat has gone missing there are several steps to go through to help you find it.

Act Fast

You might think that it is okay to wait a few days to see if it returns on its own. This is not a good idea. If your cat was hit by a car and in a veterinarian's office someplace chances are they are not doing anything for it other than keeping it comfortable. This is because in most areas there is a 72 hour law, meaning they cannot do anything for your pet for 72 hours. So if you wait, your pet could be suffering.

Another reason why you should not “wait a few days” is because if your cat has found itself in an animal shelter, or pound, they legally have the right to “dispose” of it after 72 hours if no owner has come forth (either by euthanasia, or putting it up for adoption).

Other fates await a lost cat, it could be stuck someplace, it could easily suffer from dehydration if it cannot get water. There are no good reasons to “Wait to see if it comes back on its own”. Act now to find your lost cat.

Make Phone Calls

You will immediately want to phone the animal shelters, pound, and by-law department in your area. You need to leave a description of your lost cat with every place that accepts stray cats. The description should be the color, hair length, gender, and so forth. The local by-law department is often responsible for picking up cats that have been hit on the road (not necessarily dead), they should be called as well.

Call your local radio stations, some have lost and found recorded phone lines were you can list your missing pet, and listen to recordings of found pets.

Walk Around Looking for the Lost Cat

Walk around your neighborhood. Put a small note in the mail boxes alerting neighbors that your cat is missing. Your note should mention the color of the cat and its hair length, most people won't know gender, and if you say it had a collar on, they may be confused if they find the cat after it lost its collar. Include your name, phone number, and address. Ask people to check in their garages and sheds.

Call your cats name, and listen for meowing. If the cat has gotten itself trapped in a garage, or shed, it may meow. Never trespass while looking for your cat. Look on the road and particularly along the side of the road and under bushes. If your cat was hit by a car it may have crawled under a bush. Check the back alleys if you have them in your area.

If your cat is an indoor only cat it probably did not go far and is hiding. If your cat is not neutered, it may have gone looking for a mate, and could be 3, or more, blocks away. Generally cats are missing within 2 blocks of their home – with a big exception. Sometimes neighbors are angry at cats in their yard, they may pick up a cat and take it to another place of the city (or country) and leave it.

Leave Food Out

You can leave a bit of canned cat food outside, it is not necessarily going to bring your cat home, but if your cat does come home when you are asleep, it will encourage your cat to stick around a bit longer.  If your cat is normally an indoor only cat, you might also want to leave a used towel out, or something that smells familiar.

two cats

After 24 Hours

If your cat is still missing after 24 hours you can also call your local newspaper, many offer free lost and found pet ads.

Go to the animal shelters and check their “found” cats for yourself. Many time owners describe a missing cat slightly different than the shelter describes a found one so the connection is not always made. Leave a picture of your lost cat for the shelter to attach to your cat's Lost Report. If the staff have been busy they may not have made the connection between our lost cat and one that has been found. Visiting the shelter for yourself is a good idea, and you may want to do this every few days.

Put up posters of your lost cat, including a photo, your name and phone number. You may offer a reward. It is not uncommon for people to find “stray” cats and decide to keep them. As well sometimes children bring home a pet and try to keep it telling their parents a friend gave it to them, your poster will let the parent know this is not true.

Call the veterinarians in your area. The vets are suppose to call the shelter when an injured stray cat comes in to them, however sometimes this step gets missed so you should touch base with them too.

Walk your neighborhood again.

If your cat is normally an indoor only cat, it might be terrified to be outside, and could be hard to catch, even by you.  Setting a cat trap my be an option.

Never Assume

  • If your cat has a collar and identification, never assume it will stay on.
  • Just because your cat has a microchip, or tattoo, do not assume that a person who finds the cat will be aware of such.
  • If a similar cat is found miles from your home never assume it is not your cat.
  • If your cat has been missing for a long time, never assume it will not return, often somebody else has taken your cat into their home. They “assumed” it was an unwanted stray, it may return to you sometime.

When you do find your lost cat, be sure to remove all posters, and call the shelters to let them know they can remove your Lost Cat Report from their books.

Further Reading

How to Describe a Lost Cat

What to do when you Find a Stray Pet

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Comments (4)

What a perfect "how to" article.

Ranked #8 in Cats

This is an excellent guide for anyone who has a cat go missing.

Excellent tips for cat owners, Brenda.

Great tips!