Cat owners (and dog owners alike) know this one very well. It is pretty frustrating when your cat (or dog) doesn’t come home naturally. So here is how to find a lost cat.
Why Does It Happen?
Often when we have been traveling for a long weekend somewhere in the country, or worse a three-week holiday out of the country, we come home only to find out that one or two of our cats are missing. They don’t respond to our calls. They often get let out by our caretakers on our request, because else we get a very messy house.
What happens with cats when their owners are away is that they become a little wild again.. back to nature and finding their own food, back into being feral. That is at least one side of the story. The other is that they perhaps have gotten scared because of something that happened, another cat that fought with your cat and scared them away and so on. Lots of possibilities on the why your cat could run off.
Steps How To Find A Lost Cat
- Every room in your house, think like a cat.
- Directly around your house, think again like a cat. Locked up somewhere?
- Bigger circles around your house. Call name. Rattle food.
- Do this for multiple days if unsuccessful at first. leave food and catnip outside, don’t travel away.
- Ask local RSPCA / animal shelters
- Ask around, flyers, shops
- If you just moved, check at your old address
- Know that cats can travel long and can come back after longer moments of time.
Let’s Find That Cat
Every room in your house, think like a cat
If your cat is an inside cat, then your first thing is to look through every room that is open in your house and go on cat-level. Sit down on your knees and think about your cat. Where would he or she hide. Think like a cat and think of any place your cat would go to. Under cupboards and shelves, behind chairs, on top of shelves, in very small places.
Directly around your house, think again like a cat. Locked up somewhere?
If you know that your cat might have escaped through a door or window, or when you know he was outside, it is time to use the same technique outside. Look at cat level and think like a cat. Think where cats would go to when they are outside. A cat usually doesn’t stroll off more than 500 meters. Some cats have been seen strolling around for 6000 acres.
It is then very important to straight away start looking. Ask neighbours whether your cat got accidentally locked into their garages. It still happens quite often with our cats that they walk in a garage while nobody is watching and the next moment they got locked in and cannot get out.
If they respond to your name than it is rather easy to just ask the neighbour to open the door and let you in to give it a try and call for your dear friend.
Bigger circles around your house. Call name. Rattle food
Next step is to look around the house, around other people’s houses in circles around your house. Keep calling the name of the cat. Even imitating a cat’s mew can help. Also having some cat food in a little box that can rattle to lure them back might work. Go out at night to call for your cat. Cat’s are generally nocturnal animals and are more active at night, hunting for prey, while on day time they sleep.
We live in a place full of nature around us, so they can travel rather long through forests and around a great lake. We usually take a trip around the lake to call for their name(s). And it has been quite often that cats turn up running from halfway on the other side of the lake. Other times they are just sitting under a balcony somewhere, wondering what all our fuss is about. Even worse is it when they are just sleeping under a bush.
Do this for multiple days if unsuccessful at first. leave food and catnip outside, don’t travel away
If it than happens that you still cannot find your cat after a thorough search, it is time to redo this the coming days, but you can also start doing something more drastic. Before you go to bed, leave food outside and perhaps some catnip. Don’t travel away again, or at least make sure that someone familiar to the cat is staying at your home to receive your cat.
Don’t stop after one day with calling, do not either stop at one time a day. Go out and look and call for your cat every day, several times a day. Especially at night time when cats get out.
Ask local RSPCA / animal shelters
Also it can be smart to take contact with the animal protection services locally to see if they have seen a cat turning up somewhere strange. Or perhaps there is an animal shelter in your country/neighbourhood that perhaps have found your cat. Often they ask for a small fee, but at least you get your cat back. Here in Norway we do not have animal shelters, other than the RSPCA services.
Another method is to set out a cat-friendly cat trap. We use these to capture cats for the RSPCA, so we got one standby here. We used it for an escaped feral cat once.
Ask around, flyers, shops
You can also start asking neighbours, friends, family and others if they have seen your cat. Print the photo of your cat or use your phone to show a picture of your cat while you are searching and asking around. pictures online works as well via social media. Otherwise you could produce some sort of flyer with a picture of your cat and your phone number and hang that around in the neighbourhood, put it in people’s mail boxes or hang it at your local supermarket’s bulletin board.
Perhaps your cat has started wandering about a bit further away from your home and someone has spotted him/her.
If you just moved, check at your old address
Cat’s can roam far and wide. If you happen to have moved recently, know that cats are excellent back trackers and path finders. Dogs too by the way. Of course, if you traveled overseas or from one side of the country to the other side it is a little less likely, but a 1,2km trip has happened before.
Know that cats can travel long and can come back after longer moments of time
Ofcourse, I hope you will find your cat back again if you lost him/her. Our boys are big travelers. Know that some cats simply follow their nose because of for example a female calling for them. Sometimes they get scared because of a cat terorrizing their territority. Other times it can be external factors, such as people in the area. Parties happening.. etc. It doesn’t have to be anything bad and your cat might just return a little later than expected or usual. We have had times that our cats didn’t return until a whole week later, especially in summer time.
One last story:
We had a little kitten from the RSPCA last summer. One of the days we wondered if we had accidentally let her outside. Would that have happened? Or did the kitten maybe escape through the small opened window? After two days we figured that there was still being done nr 2’s in the cat toilet and the cat food was also disappearing. To make sure we weren’t seeing other cats work, we moved all other cats out of the livingroom at night and closed the doors.
The next morning there was still a nr 1 in the cat toilet and all the cat food was gone. But no cat to be seen. So I closed the door behind me and checked every corner and crack, working systematically from room to room. TV room, livingroom, all cupboards and shelves, behind and below all chairs and sofa’s and the entire kitchen. I even removed the oven and the fridge and couldn’t find anything. I looked underneath the dishwasher but couldn’t find the cat or anyone who could have done the tracks and trails. While I was sitting there on the ground in the kitchen in front of the dishwasher, with my head pretty much on the floor, I decided to look to the right. And there I stared right into the eyes of a cute kitten who wondered what was going on.
It appeared that there was a small room underneath the kitchen shelves and the floor. It wasn’t accessible nor visible from the fronts that are placed there, but on the side of where the dishwasher is placed, there is a little room. There she just hopped in and out of. A wide area completely sealed off at the sides, but only one spot she went in and out of. She was small enough for it anyway.
How we got her out you ask? Well grabbing her was impossible. We had to put a cat trap (RSPCA trap) in the kitchen with some very tasty stuff (tuna fish). Not more than half an hour later she was in the box. I ran into the kitchen to seal the side of the dishwasher off with some cardboxes and freed the kitten from the trap to roam around freely again.
If your cat is not lost, but safely sleeping inside with you, than you can keep this this guide as a reference for the time you need it perhaps in the future.
Got any experience with lost cats? Found them back again? Please share your short story below.