How To Find A Lost Cat- Tips To Lure A Cat Home

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: July 8, 2020

How to find a lost cat

It’s every cat owner’s nightmare: Your cat has gotten loose and you don’t know where he or she is. Don’t panic—there are steps you can take to locate your pet. Swift action, coupled with major neighborhood networking, will increase the odds of having your furry friend back in your arms. The key is to get the word out to as many people in as many places as possible.  So don’t be shy about enlisting the help of your friends and family in the search efforts. If your cat becomes lost, act fast and don’t give up. How quickly and carefully you search, and how persistent and resourceful you are, can determine whether or not your cat will be found.

How To Find A Lost Cat- Preemptive Measures

Before we approach the issue of the cat being outside, let’s just present some preventative measures that you can take before this occurs. Micro-chip your cat. Most vets offer micro-chipping now. It is a safe, inexpensive way to safeguard your cat. There is a drawback involved with micro-chipping. Not all shelters or vets have the hand-held scanning device that is universal for all the chips. Your best bet is to find the chip that is used in your area. Micro-chips are non-invasive. Your cat will be identified through the scanner ID code. Collars can be taken off easily, and ID tags removed. But micro-chips which are about the size and shape of a grain of rice, stay hidden underneath your cat’s skin. Keep a current photograph of your cat handy. Don’t just make it a cute face shot; make it a full body shot so the cat can be identified with the help of this photo if the need arises.


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How To Find A Lost Cat- Where To Start

Frightened cats run until they find somewhere to hide. When you are looking for a lost cat, be sure to take a flashlight, even if it’s broad daylight. A cat can hide in a very small space, so look carefully. If you can squeeze your fist in, your cat can squeeze himself in.  Most cats don’t go far. While a cat that’s used to being outdoors will have a regular territory he patrols and could be anywhere inside that territory, it’s probably not more than a block or two. If he’s not used to being out, or doesn’t know the area, he will likely be within 300 to 500 feet of where he was lost, if he can find a place to hide. If you did not actually see your cat slip outside, be sure to thoroughly search your home. Cats have been known to hide in the most remote places, such as closets, empty boxes, and under furniture.


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How To Find A Lost Cat- Around Your Home

If you live in an apartment, be sure to check the hallways, stairwells, basement, storage closets, laundry rooms, and any vacant apartments that may have had a door ajar. Also, check with neighbors as they may have either seen or taken in your cat. Most lost cats who have always lived indoors will not go far from home. Many are discovered hiding just a few doors away or even a few feet from the front door. Start by looking under nearby porches, in basements and garages, in bushes, and even under cars. Once outside, your cat will likely be wary or frightened of any human voice and may not recognize you or come immediately when you call. Don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t respond. Call to your cat as if you’ve just seen him, using an upbeat voice, the kind of voice that you normally use to greet him. Call your cat’s name often and listen for a reply.

how to find a missing cat

How To Find A Lost Cat- When And Where To Look

Leave fresh food and water outside on a porch or in a sheltered area close to your home. Set up a large, sturdy box lined with an old towel or other items that smell familiar to your cat. If your lost cat should return while you are asleep or away from home, food, and shelter may save his life. The best time to look for a lost cat is when it’s dark and streets are quiet as the cat may be too fearful to come out during the day when there is more activity from people and traffic. Take a flashlight with you and search under parked cars, in yards, under bushes, and in alleys. It’s a good idea to take a friend along at night for safety and to bring some canned cat food or tuna or salmon to attract your cat.

As you search for your cat, ask everyone you meet if they’ve seen him. Children are particularly good sources of information as they are usually outdoors more often than adults. Ask people walking dogs, the mail carrier, owners of nearby businesses, and people coming to and from work. The more people you include in your search, the more likely you are to find your cat.

How To Find A Lost Cat- Posters And A Reward

As soon as possible after losing a cat, post signs to alert the neighborhood. Put a good description and photo of your cat on your signs, and make sure to offer a reward. Color copies are generally preferable to properly distinguish your cat’s features. Include where and when the cat was lost and a telephone number and email address where you can be reached. If your cat has been micro-chipped, include the microchip identification number (also, alert the microchip company that your cat is lost). To be effective, you must blanket your area with these lost signs, beginning within a one or two block radius and gradually expanding the area.

Ask friends to help you slide signs under the doors of neighbors’ houses and apartments, and to post them at local businesses and veterinary hospitals. Place the flyers in visible areas, even on the windshields of parked cars. Offer a reward in an amount you can afford. It’s not the amount as much as the idea that seems to motivate people. Children are especially likely to help when they hear about a reward. Rewards of $100 or more are not uncommon today, and, if you have been searching for a long time, offering an increased reward may help spark renewed interest and effort from neighbors and friends.


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How To Find A Lost Cat- Animal Hospitals And Shelters

Call all the animal shelters and veterinary hospitals in your area, beginning with the municipal animal control agency. Be sure to provide a good description of the lost cat and ask them to post your sign or take down specific information on your cat, should he be brought there later. Consider delivering a photo of your cat or sending a picture via email. So many cats look alike, it’s hard to provide a comprehensive description over the phone. Be sure to continually and frequently check with shelters as unclaimed animals often are at risk of being euthanized.

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How To Find A Lost Cat- You Found Your Furry Friend!

Hopefully within a few hours or days you find your cat. Check your cat for possible bite wounds or cuts or scrapes which may require immediate veterinary attention. Initially, keep him separated from other pets in the household until you have determined that he is healthy and re-acclimated to his environment. A visit to your veterinarian is necessary to check for infectious disease and parasites. Be sure to have your veterinarian insert a registered microchip if the cat does not already have one.

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