5 Tips For Finding Your Lost Cat and How to Prevent This Tragedy

“But my Ellie loves being an indoor cat and would never try to leave.”

These are the famous last words of every cat owner....before The First Great Escape. Whether it’s a true animal instinct or just sincere curiosity, nearly every cat - no matter how well-loved and adored - will try to escape through a door left ajar or a cracked window. July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, so let's talk about some tips on what to do if your indoor cat escapes and how to prevent this tragedy in the first place.


1. Keep Your Initial Search Close to Home

look close to home for lost catsUnlike some dogs - who can cover serious ground when they make their great escapes - most cats are likely to be around the perimeter of your home, possibly in the bushes or under the porch or patio. The act of leaving might seem courageous but your indoor cat will soon realize the perils of being outdoors for the first time (or close to the first time) and will have tried to find safety in the closest place.

You should also be sure to check inside any nearby sheds or other kinds of out buildings. Sometimes lost kitties can run inside the nearest structure and get stuck!

If you don’t find your cat during the day, try your search at night. Cats are nocturnal animals and are also likely to be a bit more anxious at night, leading them to be out and about and possibly trying to find their way back to you. Use a flashlight or headlamp, as you might catch a glimpse of their eyes while using these.


2. Spread the Word

use flyers to find missing catsIf the initial search of your area close to your home comes up empty, it’s time to spread the word as quickly as possible. While all social media can be helpful when searching for missing cats, the NextDoor app is ideal for this, as your neighbors have likely posted or helped with similar posts in the past. They’ll not only have good tips for you but now you’ll have extra eyes out in the area, particularly if you include a picture (highly recommended!). Of course, flyers with a photo of your missing cat and your phone number on it and good, old-fashioned walking from house to house can be beneficial and also make you feel less helpless as you search.


3. Spread Familiar and Food Scents

use food and scents to find catsCats navigate their environment through their sense of smell, so consider placing blankets, pillows, and other items your cat regularly smells outside your place. 

Favorite foods might also work. We’ve all seen the cat food commercials where the pet parent barely opens the can and the sound alone draws the kitties to the kitchen. The sound might evoke the Pavlovian response, but it’s the smell kitties love. Shake the dry cat food bag and/or put out their favorite (and likely fishiest!) wet food and this just might do the trick, especially if they have, indeed, found a secret hiding spot close to home. Just know your cat might not be the only one you attract! (Stay with the food. You don't want your kitty to eat and then run again!)


4. Visit the Shelters

look for missing cats at shelterWe know this is a depressing step to take in the pursuit of finding your precious pet, but, if your initial search around the home isn’t fruitful, heading to the shelters is a necessary one. And you’ll notice we didn’t say to simply call the shelters. That’s because the sheer numbers of pets turned into shelters can be overwhelming, particularly the day after loud holidays like the 4th of July (the noises often scare pets enough to flee). That’s why it’s better to go in person and go every day for the first few days. Most shelters will only hold onto lost pets for a few days before they go up for adoption.


5. Set a Humane Trap

set humane trap for missing catsMuch like shelters, hearing the word “trap” in reference to your kitty companion may unpleasant, but it can be what finally gets them back home. Humane traps are often used for getting feral cats spayed and neutered, and you can typically rent one at local humane societies to help bring Kitty home. Easy to use and entirely safe, the food in these traps could be the tool you need for what is sure to be an emotional reunion.


Now, About Prevention

As we all know, prevention is the ideal route when it comes to lost pets and, although accidents can happen, there are steps you can take to prevent them from happening again in the future.

Some of the steps you can take to ensure your cat doesn’t get outside the house and gets returned safely if they do are as follows:

  • Make sure all doors and screen doors are in working order and shut quickly. All it takes is a second from a lagging door for the cat to dart outside.
  • Make sure all your windows have screens and that these screens are in working order.
  • Gently discourage curious cats or kittens that like to linger around the front or back door.
  • Make sure your cat has an ID and collar on at all times.
  • Get your cat microchipped. This simple and efficient technology is one of the most effective ways pets are safely returned home after getting lost.


If you have any other questions about how to keep your indoor cat safe and prevent them from getting lost, feel free to give us a call.








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