Losing a cat can be terrified because cats are small and masters of concealment. It can take weeks and even months to find them. Before we talked about how to find a cat, let's talk about the four biggest mistakes people make when trying to get their cat back.
#1 Waiting a few days to see if the cat comes home. Starting your search and taking the actions in this article immediately is extremely important.
#2 Not checking your local shelter's website at least once every 3 days. Cats can show up in shelters weeks or months after going missing.
#3 Only doing one or two of these tips. You need to cast a wide net to find your cat which means using as many methods as possible.
#4 Giving up too soon. Plan on taking weeks and try not to get discouraged if you follow this guide, you have a good chance of getting your cat home.
There are two types of cats, indoor only cats that don't usually go outside and outdoor-access cats that go outside regularly. In either case, cats are territorial, they don't intentionally run away from that territory. And, indoor only cat, which goes outside, typically panics from all the stimulus, bolts and hides nearby. Research shows they are found in an average of 50 yards away. That's about two and a half houses. A lot of people think that their cats are going to act like dogs that travel long distances while in reality, they're probably just in a neighbor's yard. Outdoor-access cats usually had a reason why they didn't come home, such as being chased by a dog or other cat into an unfamiliar area, getting trapped like in a shed or up a tree or injured. And in a study, outdoor-access cats were found in an average of 344 yards away or 17-house radius, which is about the size of an average suburban block. But for both types of cats, they usually hide invisibly in an occluded area, such as under a deck. A very friendly cat may come out quickly to approach people and get rescued whereas a skittish cat had been known to hide for 1 to 2 months before finally becoming hungry and desperate enough to approach a stranger and get rescued. That's why you can't give up too soon. Unfortunately, what typically happens is a cat gets lost, the owner doesn't know to do a boost on the ground and search of the neighborhood but they might post flyers or post craigslists and they might even visit the shelter once or twice. But after a month, the flyer has been destroyed by the weather, the craigslist ad is expired and owners have given up due to grief fatigue which is a very real phenomenon where we just want the stress to be over so we give up. One way this happens is people think the cat must have been killed by a coyote or stolen, which are both very rare. The primary reason cats don't get home is because owners aren't implementing the right strategy and giving up too soon. So, keep all these in mind as you follow these steps and you'll have a massively increased chance in finding your cat.
Step #1 Make sure the cat really is lost. Sometimes, especially if cats are scared, they'll find places you never expect them to hide. Check closet, cupboards, under furniture and upholstery.
Step #2 Do a thorough search around your property. Check every nook and cranny, scared cats may hunker down for days in a small space. If a cat is scared, it likely would not meow as this will give away its location to predators. Just because you don't see or hear your cat doesn't mean it's not close to home. When it's night time, use a flashlight to look for the reflection of eyes, trees, bushes and anywhere else a cat may be hiding. Cats are more likely to come out at night when it's quiet.
Step #3 Lure them back home. If you know which door or window the cat escapes from, try to leave it open so that the cat can get back in, especially at night if it's safe to do so. Make it easy for cats to get back in windows. Put their bedding and your clothes near the door or window.
Step #4 Search the neighborhood. Studies on cat's behavior show that indoor cats are usually just a few houses away. But they're very good at hiding and because the outside is scary, they usually just hunker down in a small space nearby. Knock on neighbors' doors, leave flyers if they aren't home and ask if you can look around. And if not, if they could take a quick look around possible hiding spots. One of the most important steps is asking if you can search the yard. Neighbors likely won't crawl around looking under their decks for someone else's cat.
Step #5 Set a trap. One of the best ways to catch a cat is to set a human trap. You can buy one or google feral cat trap rental. In many places, citizens can rent trap in feed store. Put the trap in the shelter spot and lay newspaper on the bottom. Set the trap according to its directions. They're simple to set up. Add food and water near the trigger. When the cat steps on the trigger plate, the door that they came through will close. Cover the trap with blankets or clothes from home. Make a trail of fragrant food leading to the trap. In the event that you catch another cat or wildlife, do some online research as to the appropriate release technique. In general, it's best to release them where they were trapped. They usually won't come back and get trapped again. Skunk can be safely released as well without you getting sprayed. But be sure to do a thorough online research for the proper technique
Step #6 If your cat has a microchip, contact your microchip company and be sure your information is updated. If someone brings your cat to a veterinary office shelter, they'll be able to scan it and get in touch with you.
Step #7 Make lost pet posters. Regular paper flyers usually don't get noticed. These posters have been proven to work so try to make them look like this. You can buy large pieces of fluorescent paper for about fifty cents at places like Target and Walmart. Make it at least 6 and put them at the busiest intersections near where the cat went missing. Check local laws about what posts and signs are legal to attach your flyer to. You can also make quarter sheet version for putting on neighbors doors and mail boxes
Step #8 Check your local shelter at least once every 3 days. Be sure to use the web to find all local shelters. However, it's also a good idea to visit the shelter, especially when the shelter's pictures aren't clear. Sadly only one out of 10 cats in shelters is picked up by their owner. A likely cause is that people only look once or twice. It takes diligence. We've had people finding their cats at the shelter after months of going missing. Often it takes a long time for cats to be found and brought in by someone in the community.
Step #9 Check other resources. The first place many people post the street pet they find is craigslist. Be sure to check there. And create a lost pet post with the picture. Next Door, a neighbourhood specific social media site, is another great place to check and post. There're likely other local lost and found pet facebook pages and other resources in your area.
Step #10 Use FindingRover. Another great way to get your pet back is by using RindingRover. Just visit their website and upload the picture. The site uses facial recognition to scan nearby participating shelters for your pet.
Step #11 If you see your cat, stay quiet and calm. Don't chase them. Offer food and approach slowly if they don't come to you
Step #12 Don't give up. This is the most important step of all. It takes time and if you follow these tips diligently, you have a great chance of getting your cat back.