Owners of lost cats on the lost and found pet pages have said that these tips work, especially numbers 1, 3 and 5:
1. Put wet/smelly food out in the evening. Pick it up during the day or if you notice it's attracting strays.
2. Put dirty litter box outside; keep an eye on it if there are stray cats or other wildlife in your area. It may attract them, which could keep your cat away.
3. Put out an unwashed article of your clothing or a dirty sheet/towel/t-shirt. You can also make "scent strips" from these items and place them in trails leading to your door.
4. Go out in the evening with a flashlight and look under porches, sheds, hollow logs, etc.
5. You can make chum trails leading to your door by using a can of cat food and a gallon of warm water. Shake well and sprinkle in trails leading to your door. You can also make scent trails using dirty litter.
6. Your cat will be most active between dusk and dawn. Trying shaking a bag of treats and softly calling your cat's name while searching with a flashlight to catch the reflection of your cat's eyes.
7. Get fliers up right away and ask neighbors to check garages, etc.
8. File a lost report with the appropriate shelter and visit *in person* often.
Most cats do not go far, especially those that are not used to spending time outdoors.
I have been informed that putting the litter box out may attract other creatures. However, it worked for me. Just keep an eye out. Look up in the trees! Walk your neighborhood in increasingly large circles around your home. Your footsteps will give your kitty a scent trail home. Repeat! Give a photo and description to your mail carrier and newspaper delivery person. Also, leave flyers with any gated community guards. Also post them and all your local veterinarians ‘offices.