Whether your indoor cat has gotten out of the house or your cat has escaped from their kennel while visiting the vet, losing your cat can be a very scary thing. But in order to get your cat back home safely, it’s important not to panic. You’re going to need a level head and a lot of patience to safely find your cat and get them back home where they belong. You’re also going to need to be able to remember these tips on how to find a lost cat.
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How to Find a Lost Cat by Searching
Of course you’re going to want to search the area, but this is more than just walking up and down sidewalks while calling your cat’s name. Here are some ways you can make your search more effective.
- Start searching immediately. The minute you figure out your cat is missing, start searching the area where they have gotten away. Time is of the essence here, as the sooner you start searching for your cat, the greater the likelihood that you will find them. Don’t waste a second.
- Cats are sometimes likely to get lost during moves, especially if you don’t have them in a kennel during traveling. If you have just moved, go back and search the old house and the area around it, if possible. If that’s impractical, call your old neighbors and ask if they can have a look around for you.
- Ask anyone and everyone if they’re willing to help in your search. Simply put, the more eyes you have looking for your cat, the greater chances of you finding them.
- Give a flashlight to every person looking for the cat. Even if you’re looking during the middle of the day, flashlights will help you look under bushes, under decks, in garages and sheds, and other dark areas where your cat may be hiding. Flashlights can also pick up the twinkle in your cat’s eye, making it easier to find them as well.
- Give a cat toy to everyone helping in the search. Your cat’s favorite toy, along with a friend to play with, can sometimes be enough to lure your cat out of their hiding spot and return to you. Give one of your cat’s favorite feathers or stuffed mice to everyone who’s helping in the search and tell them to playfully wave it around while calling out to your cat.
- Exchange contact information with everyone helping in the search. You might separate and not be able to call out to each other if you find the cat, or clues as to where your cat may be. Make sure everyone has everyone else’s cell phone number so that people can call or text each other when they’ve found the cat.
- Ask everyone in the area if they’ve seen your cat. Just because people aren’t going through the neighborhood and actively helping you search doesn’t mean they can’t still help. Bring a picture of your cat, and also give one to each member of the search party, and show it to postal workers, kids, and anyone out walking in the area and ask them if they’ve seen your cat.
- Know how to call for your cat. Of course, you’re going to want to call out to your cat to ask them to come back to you and to alert them where you are. But remember that lost cats are most often scared cats and so, yelling their name out loudly or being very aggressive while calling them can only make them more timid and scared to come out of their hiding place. Use a soft, quiet voice to call your cat’s name instead and they’re more likely to come to you for safety.
- Don’t just call, but listen. You do need to alert your cat to where your whereabouts, but you also need to be listening for them doing the same. If a cat is lost and has gotten injured, they may be unable to move either because of fear or because they can’t physically move. Sometimes in these cases they’ll softly cry or meow and you need to be able to hear them when they do.
- Search the area over and over again. Your cat may have moved to a nearby yard, or moved from up in a tree to under someone’s deck. Search the area several times a day, and at different times of the day. You will most likely also see new places you hadn’t thought of checking before.
Places to Search For a Lost Cat
So searching for a lost cat is more than just wandering the sidewalks while calling their name. Where do you start looking? And how do you know exactly where to look in your neighborhood? The chances are that once you get out there and start searching, you’ll find all kinds of places your kitty could be. Here’s a short list to get you started looking under, inside, and between things.
- Dense foliage
- Under porches
- In crawlspaces
- In garages and sheds
- In trees
- On rooftops, especially in the join between roofs and walls
- Behind heating vents
- Under and inside of cars
- Houses and yards of neighbors (you may want to ask them to look for you)
- Nearby construction sites
- Underneath furniture, inside and out
- Locked rooms and closets, such as basements
- Dresser drawers
- Behind books on shelves
- Behind appliances
- Local shelters
Spread The Word
Beyond getting a search party together and asking people you see walking in the area, there are other ways to spread the word even farther. The more people that know about your situation, the more people will be on the lookout for your cat. Here are other ways to get the word out that you’re missing your cat:
- Flyers still work. Print up some fliers that include a color photo of your cat, where they were lost, their name, description of distinguishable markings, and your contact information. Telephone poles and trees still work as great spots to tack these flyers but also make sure you put one up at the grocery store, on community bulletin boards, in businesses that will allow it, and at the local shelter. Offering a reward has been proven to be effective, but make sure you don’t post how much the reward is on the poster. This will keep the scammers at bay.
- Go online. There are a number of online sites (try this one, or this one) that will help you locate your missing cat including Get My Cat, Missing Pet, and Pets 911. Social media can also be a great tool when trying to locate your cat. Be sure to not only post the information on your own timeline, but also on other local pages so it can be shared and seen by many more people. Often cats can be located within minutes of one picture being shared.
- Place an ad in the local newspaper. And the more local the better! This is again just getting the word out to even more people that you’re looking for your cat, and how they should get in touch with you if they find them.
- Leave instructions on your voicemail. By now you’ve given your phone number out to just about anyone that would accept it. Be sure to change your voicemail message to tell them you already know why they’re calling, “If you’ve found my cat, or have information…” and to leave further instruction, “Please leave your name, phone number….”
Making Your Home More Attractive
Yes, you and you alone should be enough to get your cat to come back, and you will be. But there are ways to make your home even more familiar, and more attractive, for the cat’s return. Not to mention the fact that they have been wandering around the outside of the home for days, you’ve just never seen them. Here are a few ways to not only go out and find your cat, but also lure them back home.
- Go out at night and call in the area immediately around your home. Your cat could be hiding underneath the very deck you’re standing on and just be too scared to come out during the day. The security of the darkness at night will make them feel better about coming out and returning to you.
- Bring a package of treats out with you. Shake it lightly as you call out for your cat. Often this will be enough temptation to get them to come out of their hiding spot.
- Remember to wait and listen for a response after every time you call their name.
- Place the cat’s litter box or their favorite toys outside around the home. The familiar scent can also help make them feel better and less stressed about coming out of hiding, and back into the home.
- Place strong-smelling food in a closed box with holes punched in the lid. The idea here is that you want your cat to smell the food, but don’t want other animals coming and simply eating it. You will likely attract other wildlife, so place it in a spot where they can’t get at it, or be prepared to shoo them away. The good news is that you could also quite possibly attract your cat back to coming home.
- Try to have someone home at all times. If you and your cat keep coming back to the house, but at different times causing you to constantly miss each other, have other family members or a friend keep watch over the house and yard when you can’t be there. The chances are that your cat might not have ever been lost at all, just wandering around the yard out of your sight!
- Leave a baby monitor at the back door. If your cat comes back to the door and starts scratching and meowing, you’ll be able to hear it through the baby monitor – of which you will carry around inside the house with you, of course.
- Set humane traps. These traps will simply lure your cat into a wire cage and then close on them, leaving them inside. Your cat will not be hurt at all, but will be ready for you to pick up and take back inside.
- Empty out your vacuum cleaner outside. And if you can, try to shake some bits of their hair around on the ground. This will also leave a familiar scent around your home, helping a lost cat find their way back or just making them feel more secure in doing so.
Losing your cat can be a very scary thing, and your first reaction might be to start grieving immediately. However, know that cats get separated from their owners and homes quite often and usually their homing instinct is enough to lead them back home. Remain calm, remember these tips on how to find a lost cat, and you’ll have your cat back home with you in no time.
I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.
We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.
On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.