17
- April
2018
Posted By : Clayton G.
7 Effective Search Tips for Finding Your Lost Cat

7 Effective Search Tips for Finding Your Lost Cat

Are you searching for your lost cat and wondering what to do?

While you should always take steps to raise local awareness regardless of your lost pet’s species (and you should read that article first if you have not already), effective boots-on-the-ground search measures for a cat can differ substantially from those for a dog. It all comes down to behavior: A lost cat behaves very differently from a lost dog.

That’s why we’ve collected these actionable tips for finding your lost cat. All of these methods have worked for other cat owners, so they are worth a shot!

Tip #1: Focus your efforts close to your cat’s last known location.

A lost cat will typically stay within a 3-5 house radius from the home (assuming the home is the last known location). This is especially true of indoor cats that have gotten out, though indoor/outdoor cats will typically stay close to home as well.

When they get out, indoor cats tend to be quiet and fearful, and to hunker down and not emerge, even to the sound of the owner’s voice.

Search thoroughly any hiding places within your own home: under furniture, in closets, in drawers, on top of cabinets, in HVAC ducts or indoor crawlspaces. Search your and your immediate neighbors’ yards: in bushes and trees, under porches and decks, in high-walled courtyards, and in crawlspaces under houses.

Check nearby garages, sheds, and abandoned buildings. Keep in mind your cat could be trapped somewhere, so check any nearby enclosed spaces she could have squeezed into.

Photo Credit: Buenosia Carol via Pexels

Tip #2: Search for your lost cat when the world is asleep.

A scared or shy kitty will be more likely to reveal herself when all is quiet. This means late at night (10:30pm or later) or early in the morning (6:30am or earlier).

Go out with a flashlight. You can take a few cans of cat food with you (the smellier the better). Stand out in the open and pop the cans, or shake her treat jar.

Calling out for kitty has worked for some, while others say just using your normal speaking voice works better. With either option, keep your voice calm; a frantic tone is not likely to attract a frightened cat.

If you have a normal feeding routine, repeat it while searching nearby areas. For example: If you feed her canned food at night, take a can of food and a spoon and walk around calling your kitty and tapping the can with the spoon.

Searching when all is quiet has other advantages as well. Calling out with your voice, shaking a treat jar, or popping a can of food will all be better heard by your hiding cat. If you’re lucky, she will come running when she hears these familiar sounds.

Photo Credit: Lucas Allmann via Pexels

Tip #3: Use the power of scent to attract kitty back home.

A cat’s nose is far stronger than a human’s. That’s why scent can be a powerful tool when searching for your lost cat.

Put out kitty’s bedding and/or toys on your porch or in your backyard. Leave out an article of (unwashed) clothing that has been worn by her person. Put out smelly cat food or treats.

It might sound gross, but sprinkling used kitty litter in and around your yard emits a strong scent that can attract your cat. You can also leave the litter box itself on your porch or in your yard.

A cat’s sense of smell is very strong and having familiar smells may help her find her way home.

Photo Credit: Pixabay via Pexels

Tip #4: Set out food and water for your lost cat.

This comes down to a basic survival needs. Eventually, your kitty will need to start looking for food and water (although keep in mind cats have been known to survive days without water or weeks without food).

When it comes to food, the stinkier the better. Think sardines, tuna, or other types of foods with pungent aromas.

Consider setting up a wildlife camera pointed at the food and water. This way, you can see if your cat has stopped by to eat, which is a strong clue she is probably hiding somewhere very close.

Photo Credit: FOX via Pexels

Tip #5: Make a weather-proof outdoor shelter.

You can make a weather-proof outdoor shelter using either a large plastic storage container or a large styrofoam cooler, with a hole cut out at one end as an entrance. This can attract your lost cat by serving as a safe hiding place.

Keep it secured, in a location protected from the elements, such as a porch or under a deck. If you have a garage, you can leave the garage door cracked open and place it inside.

In cold weather fill the shelter with lots of clean straw or shredded paper (not blankets, which retain moisture and cause hypothermia). In warmer weather use a cardboard box.

Photo Credit: Min An via Pexels

Tip #6: Consider using a humane cat trap.

You can ask animal control or local cat rescues if they have a humane cat trap you can borrow. This can be a good option for extremely shy or skittish kitties.

Make sure to do your research before you try out this method. There are some good tips in this article from the Community Cat Coalition, a non-profit based in Washington.

If possible, consult with a local expert from animal control, a cat rescue, or a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program. Sometimes, they will even be willing to come help you with this process in person.

Photo Credit: Austin Humane Society

Tip #7: Don’t give up!

Too often a pet parent will assume their lost cat has been killed by a predator and give up the search. Contrary to popular belief, this is rarely the case!

The more likely scenario is that your lost cat is terrified, hiding out somewhere nearby. We’ve seen cases where a cat has been missing for weeks or months, but is eventually found hiding just a short walk from home.

So keep up the search! If you’re feeling dejected, read our Happy Tails for stories of other pet parents who have reunited with their loved ones. Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement to regain hope.

Know of any additional tips that have worked for you or a friend? Send us an email at tips@pawboost.com so we can add them to this list and help other cat owners reunite with their fur babies!

Photo Credit: Japheth Mast via Pexels

Comments

  • Don’t forget to put up notices including a picture. in your neighborhood That is how we heard that someone had found our neighborhood cat trapped in a crawl space from the day after Halloween until the day after Christmas. Miraculously, he survived and is fine now.

  • One other thing to remember when looking is that a space that you think your cat would never fit into is absolutely a space that your cat will TRY to fit into! I once found my 12 lb cat behind a freezer with about 4 inches of room between it and a wall. He fit but he was stuck. They aren’t so good with spatial relations… ;-).

    • to Marni Holmes: I’ve always heard/ read that cats can get into and get out of any space no larger than their whiskers. WHICH is a pretty small space!

  • And show or give flyers to people normally on foot in your area – Mailmen, Newspaper delivery people, kids out playing, And post flyers in local vets offices, pet supply stores, groomers, etc… And give to neighbors! (Make sure flyers have your contact info!) Post on local Facebook pages for Lost & Found Pets in your area. We have several- every little township, the county & bordering counties. – Make sure to include location where lost- Not just town, but cross streets!

  • ALSO, from personal experience: GO TO all local animal shelters, most will not help you by going to see if they have a “female torti with a scar over one eye”, or other such descriptions. I’m sure they have good reasons, but none would help me in my search other than by telling me to come down and look in person. (Which I did!)
    They DID tell me that every single animal that enters the shelter is immediately scanned for a microchip with a hand held scanner.

    For all local veterinarians, I also wrote short notes and included the “Lost cat” notice with a good photo of my cat on it, and begged local veterinarians to post it on waiting room walls.

    We also, of course, put up the “Lost Cat” notice with a good photo of the cat on it, all around our neighborhood.

    YES, we did eventually (after 17 days) get her back!

  • EACH TIME I FEED HER WET FOOD I TAP THE CAN WITH A SPOON SO SHE ASSOCIATES THE SOUND WITH FOOD, HOPEFULLY HEAR IT AND COME HOME.

  • I did everything for my cat but no luck it’s been 2 years

  • Use a flashlight when searching in dark places, the light will reflect off of their eyes. If you put out clothing you have worn refresh every 24 hrs or after rain. Put signs, the more eyes looking the better the chance of getting a lead on where it might be. Remember to put signage in neighboring developments as cats will go into storm drains and come up away from their home. Talk to dog walkers, joggers, the mailman etc . Make business size cards (templates on line) and pass out to people. I have helped people find lost cats and we also made flyers – 4 to an 8 x 11 1/2 standard copy paper and put them door to door. Leave in the door or under the corner of door mat as it’s illegal to put in a mailbox. Place them under the windshield wipers of cars in apartment parking lots. Put signs on cluster mailboxes, bus stop shelters, post near schools, churches etc., anyplace lots of people gather. And post to nextdoor.com a community based website that is local to your community. It’s not in all areas but see if you have access to it and use the help feature to expand your community to include adjoining ones. It has been very successful in reuniting pets with owners.

  • Always keep up to date clear, focused, colored photos of your pet so you make up lost posters in a flash. Keep a list of your cats markings or any specific scars incase you get a call from the shelter they may have one of more who look like yours a photo close up of the eyes is very helpful because of fear your cat may not respond to you. Be able to prove yes this is my cat! Make up posters & Post them at gas stations, food stores, area telephone poles, bus kiosks the corner church and schools – kids love animals are non threatening little people who notice animals! Offer a reward. Ask your neighbors if you can search their garages if they are in the habit of leaving it open. Check wood piles, and if your cat has a hunter instinct search around bird feeders Call your local radio stations many announce lost pets and your info for free. Put one of your posters in your back seat car window make sure the lettering is large enough to be easily read from another car. Run off copies and distribute them at shopping center parking lots. After you find your cat run a thank you ad in your local paper. and make sure you got back and take down all your posters from the street in inside stores and vet offices. don’t give up!

  • Today, after two weeks of searching the woods behind my home and setting live traps with no luck I was giving up. Now that I’ve read this article I will have to try some more. Thank you for the encouragement!

  • In addition to looking for your cat at night, leave the door to your house open at night (take turns standing guard or sleep in the room with the open door for security reasons). Scared cats are more apt to venture from their hiding places at night, and I’ve heard of lost cats who are found because they just walk into the open door.

    • Mine did. It’s really cold outside. But, I kept the patio door open. Her sister squeezed out, crying loudly. She’d come back inside every 2 minutes to see if I’d seen her twin. She never stopped crying. Her sister heard her screaming and she came home. She was tired & cold & hungry. But she heard her sister crying and she found her way home.

  • Thank you for the Kitty Tips – Gabby was gone for 24 hours and fortunately came home on his own during the next day’s sunset. Still don’t know how he got out of the house! My TIP: if your cat wears a collar, be sure it is a BREAKAWAY. Gabby came home without his. It may have gotten caught on a tree branch or he may have encountered another neighborhood outside cat. Don’t want to imagine what could have happened if he had a regular collar on.

    • if it wasn’t for all these tips i don’t think i’d have the faith and courage to keep looking for my Rosalie. she hasn’t been found yet, but i did find her breakaway collar, so she must not be too far off at all. i’ve posted a lost cat report and will make posters to put around my town and hand out to neighbors.

    • What is a breakaway collar and where can i find one?

  • Thanks you all for your kind comments on EBONY.

  • Mike Ziegelmeyer

    May 27, 2018 at 9:55 AM

    Hi,
    Thanks forthe tips. Will try them with our lost cat.

    Mike

  • I can hardly believe I found my cat after reading “7 tips to find your lost cat.” She had been missing 4 days. I tried everythng to find her. I read your tips this morning and decided to look closer around our home. I went into my
    Garden shed and gently called her name; after a few minutes I heard a faint cry. It was her; she was scared and hiding under a cabinet. I coached her out after offering her food and water, but she was more interested in getting pets than food. Amazing! 4 days without food or water. She is doing great! Thank you so much for your “tips.” So relieved to say we have a “happy ending.”

    • Same exact thing happened in my case! 4 days…next door neighbor’s shed. They looked on day one and I left it at that until I heard faint sound on day 4. She was not interested in food or water at first either. She just want hugs and kisses!
      Always, always check any place they could have been accidentally trapped. Check personally. Do not just ask neighbors to look.

  • My cat Harley had been missing for 1 week now.I was driving home from work in Friday about 3 blocks from where I live when i noticed a cat in the road.it was very afraid but with my headlights on I could see the color in the cats face and body.Im sure it was my cat.I pulled over and called the kitty but she ran from me and hopped over a fence.i feel so,helpless now.i don’t know what to do.

    • Put flyers up in the neighborhood you saw her, so that people there can send you tips if they see her! She will probably stay around the same areas rather than wander endlessly.

    • Georgina Scarberry

      June 13, 2018 at 3:04 AM

      The same thing happened to me! I feel heartbroken and hopeless… does that mean they dont want to come home?? 🙁

      • One thing to know about cats: there is a special bond between you and them. Cats get depressed or sad when they separate from their owners, especially if they call you their favorite. For a cat to run away from home, they were just curious. But trust me, they miss you.

  • My Jasper has been missing 5 days and I’m heartbroken. I’ve gone out looking in the evenings and called for hime frequently. I did put his litterbox out and will try walking with the flashlight at night.

  • My Daisy has been missing for over 3 months now, she is grey, found her as a baby feral kitten. She is 7 now.. I miss her and keep hoping she will find her way back home😢

    • Hi Lydia,
      My cat Beaanie ran out of our house during a hurricane 7 weeks ago when a door flew open. He was so scared and he is a indoor cat. I am afraid he ran and can’t find his way home….. but I wil not give up in finding him. I call and look for and have uwed all websites I can think of. One day I hope to post that Beanie has found his way home….oh, and Beanie was a ferel kitten I had to trap to rescue when he was about 4 mounths old. Don’t give up!

  • I’m on day 5. No Pawly. Still. I cannot believe how devastated & broken I am. I can barely function as everything is undone & falling in around me. He was (IS) my best friend, & I have never been in more dispair. He goes in & out but never for very long bouts of time. He’s just a baby.
    I have prayed & prayed. These tips are very encouraging. I’m sad for the ones who are still searching.

    • Oh, that is so sad. I totally understand my Gary has been gone for two days now and I can’t eat or sleep….. sick feeling. I dread waking up and going thru another day of not knowing. Take Melatonin at night to sleep… it will help. Talk to your doctor about anxiety medication… it helps too. I hope you find your Pawly.

    • Did you find your kitty? Mine had been gone 1 day, and I can’t breathe. How can I go on…brokenhearted

  • I am on 7 days without my baby. Ive put posters up, been out every single night looking for him, put his food on the step and smelly socks in the garden. I hope and prayer that Skittles comes back to me.

  • Tomorrow will be two weeks without my cat, I have had Tommy for twelve years now, he was getting more used to staying inside, but I tried to get him out one day to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. While he was probably out relaxing in the many areas on our property, me and my daughter made the terrible mistake of letting our pet dogs out before we brought him in. I think they must have chased and scared him out of any surroundings familiar to him. I dont think he was out enough to mark many spots. We live on four acres , and to make matters worse we are surrounded by large farm fields and dense wooded areas. Very rural here and no neighbors close by. I still hung up signs by any roads connecting to ours, have posted online , and have searched during day and at night for any sites or sounds. The closes humane society to me is miles away but i let them know anyway. It is very easy to want to giive up, especially when you live in the country where so many predators could get your beloved pet. So I am just praying for a miracle.

    • I live in the country too and it’s been a little over a week since my kitty has been gone. I am so worried that a coyote or a dog got him because he never has been gone like this before. I miss him terribly.

  • I have a suggestion especially for those with sidewalks and storm drains in the neighborhood.. Call your cat only walking home to avoid confusion and to help your cat find home easier.

  • Thank you.

  • My cat Samaya was missing for 7 days. I just found out about this website yesterday afternoon and after registering and reporting a lost of a cat I received this email with 7 tips and so many comments of yours. This is incredible but it helped me and I found Samaya the same day. All this information and your advices helped us so much. We went outside to search for her so many times during the week, but never too late at night. And after reading all this information we decided to try around 11:30pm. We searched within 3-5 houses around our place, and tried to listen carefully for all kind of noises. And after a while we herd some noise from the inside of one of the garages of our neighbors and after calling her name she started meowing so loud. The owner had no idea she was there all that time. She was so scared. She got inside somehow through the hole as he had some reconstruction going in his garage and patio.
    This is incredible. I want to say huge thank to all the people who shares the information and advices. Of course sometimes it doesn’t work that easy but it helped Samaya and she is safe and home. We would never thought she could be stuck somewhere so close to our house and that is the reason I decided to share this story with you. Maybe it will help someone.
    I really hope that everyone of you will reunite with beloved pets. Never stop searching..

  • By this Saturday, it will be 3 weeks since my cat has been missing. I’m still so heartbroken and emotional. The tips on this site definitely help give me encouragement. She is an indoor-only cat, has never ran away before. I’m hoping she’s nearby as many websites suggest. We’ve had calls reporting sightings of her, but whenever we look, we can never find her. We look multiple times a day and night. We’ve tried just about everything but the humane traps. Please pray that we find her.

  • My Nema has been gone for 3 days and I’m completely consumed with finding her. It is killing me inside, no eating or sleeping, I have tried all these tips already, but will continue to search. She’s an indoor and outdoor cat and I automatically thought she may be stuck somewhere. She would always come home either late at night or early morning. There are mean people out there and Im so afraid for her. She doesn’t “spray” and I think people think that all cats do that and don’t want them in the neighborhood. I also keep a litter box, that she uses. She’s 4 years old and we have lived in the same place. As soon as I started letting her go outside, there was no more cat pee on my front door or my vehicles. She chased them all away. She has also killed several rats and chased them out of my attic. She was my watch cat hero. She was so lovable even my husband who “is not a fan of cats” loved her. I really hope she comes home soon.

  • One smart idea I have tried for future reference is connecting a Tile to your cats collar so you are able to track them if they are lost. Just food for thought. I will leave a link for one they are only 20 dollars!
    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/tile-tile-mate-item-tracker-white/5581767.p?skuId=5581767&cmp=RMX&extStoreId=1152&ref=212&loc=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI56vBwor33QIVArnACh3ZsAqEEAQYAiABEgLFdvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

  • Coming up on 3 days. Angel is 14 and I’m so, so worried – she’s in great shape, so I don’t think something bad health wise could have happened? She used to be a indoor-outdoor cat when she was younger and she never left the yard even back then, so when she managed to slip out on the 16th (couldn’t catch her, she bolted and went over the fence) I told myself it’d be fine and that she’d come back and I’d bring her in. But she’s been a no show ever since and it’s only getting colder. Can’t stop kicking myself for not getting to her faster or going out to get her right away. I went combing the neighborhood on foot twice on day 1 and once via car – gonna try again tomorrow on foot again. Put up posters around the neighborhood, checked shelters, posted in vet and pet shops, posting online… but this article has some good info – hopefully it helps! Haven’t been sleeping and am enjoying the constant headache. Hoping she finds her way home asap, missing her like crazy.

  • I am so sorry for these people who lost they pet. My kitten “fofinho” for the first time go out by the front door, and gone. I went around the neighborhood with a bag of treats, shaking and calling for him, he always came when I shake the bag, but he didn’t show up. He is a VERY SCARE cat, even with my husband, and some time with me, so I thought the only way for him coming back is coming by himself, I don’t have faith in him and no hope, was night and he is black, hard to see him. I put his litter box by the door, hoping he will find it. Once in a while I go by the door calling him and shaking the bag. As this night was the night we put the trash out I have a feeling to open the back door, and there HE was. He gone for about 6hrs and ½. God is so good and I thank “HIM” for. I hope these people find they pet. Thank you for your concern and attention.

  • Isn’t the range for these only about 40 feet?

  • My cat Kitley has been gone for 6 days now.I am heart broken. I am 71 years old and have just had knee replacement surgery it is hard for me to walk around but I still try. I do have some friends and my sister helping me. My sister is who told me about this site. I will try all 7. I have put flyers out.and have talked to several neighbors who are out and about. I am going out tonight at about midnight.and early in the morning. I have put his litter box out and put a jacket and the pajamas I slept in last night in it. I am beside myself sick to my stomach can’t sleep and almost non stop crying.I pray to God for His help I don’t know what else to do but keep the faith. Thank you all for your suggestions and I will keep your all in my prayers to bring your babies home.

  • I could use some possible advice. My cat went missing 4 days ago. I have many stray or outdoor cats in my downtown area. Ive had one cat coming up to eat the food I put out and check out the carrier and litterbox i setup but not use them. Is this going to prevent my cat from coming back home? She doesn’t know anywhere else. Shes only been a indoor cat and only lived in one location in my current city. Someone mentioned to me that they spotted her Tuesday Morning 6 blocks away from me, they are pretty sure it was her. Is that likely that she would have been pushed off that far and lost? I went to put flyers up in that area, I was thinking I should maybe expand further from that point by now? Thanks.

  • My cat came home after 8 years. True. He was beautiful I believe someone took him and then moved. It took him a long time but he made it. He just walked into the yard. Dirty, hungry and tired. Don’t give up

  • My Cat has been missing for a week now I call him everyday and night hoping that he can hear me. I even went into the house across the street that was up for rent just to make sure he was not in there. I am going to put up posters today. He is listed on the Lost and Missing Cat Facebook and Paw Boost., I am hoping to find him. I have had him since he was 8 wks old and he is now 10 yrs old. So this website gives me hope.

  • Our Toothless was let out of the house by our amazingly smart cat, Stormy ( stormy figured out how to open the front door). We have 5 indoor pets and 4 of them were awaiting on the front porch when my husband came home between work shifts. Toothless was not among them. We put out his carrier and favorite snuggle t-shirt, a bowl of food and water, and waited….17 days. Everyday and every night we would search…posting on social media, microchip tracker sites, Neighborhood community center, talked with neighbors, everything we could think to try. We really was giving up hope as there was no word. Then, driving into our garage, the kids and I caught a glimpse of a running cat. It was our baby boy!! The kids quick gave chase and found him hiding in a cranny under the neighbor’s porch 4 doors down. The relief was so emotional. We keep checking on him. He’s hungry, dusty, and skittish, but by the graces of all the Gods…Toothless is back where he belongs; cuddled on my lap, purring up a storm.

  • my boy scruffy has been missing since x mass 2018, i went in a 5 house radius leaving letters asking all to check there sheds and garages for him as well as putting posters up. I will not stop searching for him. His grandmother Boots was missing for 6 months and i found her , it was during the bitter cold winter of 2016. found her in feb 2017 she was in rough shape and skiddish but after a month she was back to her old self , stay positive don t give up the search

  • Phyllis Tucker-LaBelle

    January 1, 2019 at 2:46 PM

    Please, please don’t give up hope! I adopted a rescue kitten that is blind. She went missing just before Christmas. She was an inside cat only & had been extremely traumatized before she was rescued. Her voice box was crushed somehow & she can barely meow. Her eyes were gouged out. So you can see that I had no hope. She only knew her way around inside the house. Somehow she got out the front door & when we tried to catch her she freaked. She somehow went from cement wall to the next in the neighborhood. Then she was gone. I felt so much pain & guilt because I told her I would always protect her. I have no idea how she did it, but after a day & a half, early in the morning she made it back to my neighbor’s patio & was stuck behind some boxes. I went out at 6 a.m. I called for her & thought I heard something like a raspy meow. There she was. She did not spend the night there, because we had looked there for her. If a blind, almost speechless cat can make it home, so can yours. Follow the seven steps listed. My prayers & hope are with anyone out there who has not found their beloved kitty. I know your pain. I feel it was my prayers that brought her home! She has been traumatized again but is coming around.

  • Hi. My cat Puff has been missing for a week now. We have had him for over 10 yrs and recently moved into a apartment. We have three cats. After almost a week of keeping them cooped up we let all three out the same evening. All three have been indoor/outdoor but Puff is the oldest. The next morning the two younger ones came back but Puff never did. We have searched our apartment complex, made a few flyers, checked local animal shelter and vets, We even went back to our old house but nothing, not a trace. Is is possible our other cats know where he is? Could he be close by? We are not ready to give up hope. Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciate . Puff also has a collar with ID tag on as well.

  • Kim Derington Tillman

    March 14, 2019 at 3:08 PM

    Ugh. I’m just a few hours in and loosing my mind! I move in a few weeks. So I’m praying so hard she will find her way home. Shes old. I dont think she will survive long.

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