In January of 2013, a small tortoiseshell cat named Holly travelled 200 miles to get home after going missing for 63 days. For every one near-miraculous Holly there are thousands of cats who go missing and never get reunited with their families.
Never fall for the misconception that cats always know how to get home. If your cat goes missing, you need to act fast. Your cat could be shipped to a shelter that euthanizes strays after a couple of days.
Items You Will Need
- · Phone numbers of all vet offices in the area
- · Phone numbers of all animal shelters in your area
- · Clear photo of your cat
- · Collar and lead, small cat crate or something to contain the cat if found
- · Comfortable walking shoes
- · Humane trap draped with old towels
Starting the Search
Is the cat normally an indoor cat? Many indoor cats become overwhelmed with agoraphobia, points out Petfinder.com. The cat may be closer to home than you think. Check around the perimeters of the house, any thick shrubs or garden beds and any outhouses nearby. Be sure to check under parked vehicles. Some cats find car engines a warm place to hide, so rap on the vehicle’s hood to make sure the cat is not inside of the engine.
Stop and listen for any wildlife noises. Birds and squirrels that see cats often scream. This can help you locate your cat. If it’s otherwise quiet, work in ever-widening squares from your home. Ask anyone walking dogs or mail carriers if they have seen your cat.
Get On the Phone
If a walk-through of your immediate neighborhood does not yield results, it’s time to get on the phone and start telling people about your lost cat. Many stray animals are taken to veterinarian offices before animal shelters. This is why you need to include phone calls to all local vet’s offices as well as animal shelters.
Call at least once a day to animal shelters until the cat is found. Calling just once is not enough. Animal shelters are manned by a constantly rotating batch of volunteers and overworked employees. Messages can get lost from one shift to the next. Make sure they know your name, phone number and email address. Go online and check local animal shelter’s websites, Twitter pages and Facebook pages. Often new animals are photographed and placed on the web before anyone goes through all of the phone messages.
Make Posters and Promise Reward
Within 24 hours of your cat going missing, you should start making posters. Put them in the local post office, churches, telephone poles, mail boxes and anywhere you can legally put them up. Promise a reward. Do not say how much. People are much more likely to keep an eye out for a lost cat if they think they can get some money out of the deal, notes the ASPCA.
If your cat is a particular breed, contact local or state breed rescue groups. These volunteers are often contacted by animal shelters to foster cats of a particular breed in order to free up cage space. Go online to see if you have an all-breed cat shelter or fostering group nearby. Leave a detailed description of your cat and your contact information.
Set Humane Trap
If your cat is spotted but runs away from a would-be rescuer, hire or purchase a humane trap and place it in the area the cat was spotted. This is also a good option for cats who are mostly outdoor cats or who are very unfriendly with people. Drape the trap with old towels so it looks more like a natural hiding spot than a cage. Cats will avoid cages. Bait the trap with smelly fish. Be sure to check the trap at least once a day, preferably twice.
FeralCat Coalition. “Humane Trapping Instructions.”
Tree House Humane Association. “How to Find a Lost Cat.”