One of the simplest errors cat owners make when looking for their lost pet is to not begin their search as soon as they realize their cat is missing. Unfortunately, many cat owners hold the belief that a lost cat will know how to find its way home, and it isn’t until many weeks later that some owners begin their search. Never delay your search for your cat. Your cat is dependent on you to find him./her
Below are some tips to help you in your search for your lost cat. (Some of the tips may also be applicable in any search for a lost dog too.) ^ . . ^
- It is important that you let your neighbours know you are looking for your lost cat (usually they
are the first people to see your cat)
- Contact your local Animal Services and Humane Society right away and file a lost cat report with
them. Also, if these organizations in your area post their cat intakes on their website, then make a
point of checking the website daily.
- If you live close to another city or town that also has a local animal service, then also file a lost cat
report with them. If the finder is just visiting your city, he/she may opt to drop the cat off at the
local shelter in the nearby town.
- If your cat has been missing for more than 10 days, then start connecting with the various Animal
Rescue groups in your area and those on the outskirts of your city. Your local Animal Service
should be familiar with the names of the animal rescue groups in your city.
- Check if your community has a lost pet website for Twitter postings. For example, in Calgary pet
owners can follow lost / found pet Tweet reports on https://twitter.com/YYCLostPet. Some
communities also have their own Twitter address, thus if you are familiar with Tweeting then
it’s a good way of getting a lost pet report out fast and sharing with many others.
- Some communities also have their own Facebook site but always be careful about what
information you share. Similarly, your city may have a peopular Facebook site for lost / found
pets managed by fellow pet owners.
- Most newspapers are now online, thus it is a good idea to post a lost report in their lost / found pet
section of their online classified ads. Some newspapers do not charge for this service, but it is best
to check first.
- A commonly used pet recovery website in Canada is PetLynx http://www.petlynx.net, but by
Googling "lost pets" in the search field (include your city in your search criteria), the results
should provide you with other pet lost /found websites.
- If your cat has been missing for several weeks, then place an ad in your community monthly
newsletter if they produce one since these are usually delivered to every household.
- Don’t forget to fax/deliver your LOST REPORT to the veterinary clinics in your area and to
those nearby, in addition to the 24 hr emergency clinics. Remember, EVEN CATS CAN WALK
LONG DISTANCES. (I helped one family to be reunited with their cat that was found in another
community.) Deliver flyers to your neighbours describing your lost pet. Advertise in your local
- If you live in a house, speak to your mail delivery person and tape a copy of your lost cat report to
your mailbox as a daily reminder to your delivery person (use a sheet protector to prevent your
report from being damaged by rain or snow). Believe it or not, because of their job, mail carriers
often comes into contact with cats roaming the neighbourhoods.
- Many large companies have an internal electronic bulletin/intranet service that employees can post
notices on, such as car for sale. Use the electronic bulletin to inform other employees to keep their
eyes open for your lost pet if they reside in your community.
- Continue to put food on your doorstep for your pet. (DO NOT do this if your community is known
to be frequented by coyotes or foxes). Animals have a stronger sense of smell than humans do,
thus putting your pet’s favourite toy, blanket, or your clothing, nearby might help, especially if
your cat is not familiar with their outdoor surroundings. If your cat’s litter box has a hood, then
put the litter box outside; however, do not clean the litter box since your cat needs to be able to
smell his /her urine.
- If it has been snowing look for possible paw prints. Check all possible hiding spots, i.e. cars,
bushes, fir trees, decks, garages, sheds, under steps (look for small gaps even if you have concrete
steps – several lost cats have managed to squeeze themselves through small gaps). One resourceful
pet owner whose cat had been missing for 3 days in frigid cold temperatures decided to look again
under her steps, but this time she taped her iPhone & small flashlight securely to the end of a
broom and slid the broom under the steps. When looking through the video on her iPhone she saw
her cat, who was already suffering from frostbite and hypothermia; she saved him just in time.
- If you know of a neighbour that went out of town around the time your cat disappeared, then call
out your pet’s name besides your neighbour’s garage and listen for a response. When your
neighbour returns (hopefully within a few days), ask him/her to check their garage/shed. If you are
unsure when the neighbour is expected to return, check with the other neighbours to enquire if the
owners left any contact information. If there is no contact information, then leave a note in the
mailbox explaining your situation since usually someone is likely to drop by to bring in the mail
and check on the house. One woman was reunited with her hungry cat after he spent 10 days
locked inside a neighbour’s garage; the cat had wandered into the garage just before the
neighbours left for their vacation.
- Don’t forget to check trees and look towards roofs. Cats often climb trees to escape dogs or to
chase squirrels. One owner found her cat several days later stuck on a neighbour’s roof. If you
notice birds swooping towards an object or gathering and squawking loudly, then pay attention
because it is possible that the birds have spotted a cat nearby that represents danger to them but
could be your lost cat.
- When walking the neighbourhood take with you a bag of Temptations (cat treats) and shake the
packet every so often while calling your cat’s name. Your cat may be a little scared, but hungry
enough to leave his/her hiding place. (You might want to consider taking an opened can of Tuna
One cat owner shared an idea after her cat went missing. She e-mailed:
“My cat came back just an hour ago. I sprinkled his cat litter up and down the driveway. I put a box on the front step with my husband’s sweaty t-shirt. I left the front and back outdoor lights on and left a bowl of food and water on the front step and left the back gate open. He was missing since Sunday night and I thought he was gone for good…If anyone is missing their cat try what I did. It just might work!”
Always remember, though, when looking for your cat, or thinking of recovery ideas, your personal safety must come first.
Don’t lose hope. It is not uncommon for some cats to go missing for many months. I have helped 2 cats to be reunited with their owners after they were missing for 6 months.
** REMEMBER, HAVING YOUR PET’S
IDENTIFICATION (TATTOO / MICROCHIP) INFORMATION UP-TO-DATE WILL GREATLY INCREASE THE CHANCES OF YOU BEING REUNITED WITH YOUR LOST PET. YOU SHOULD HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH OF YOUR PET SO THAT IT CAN BE
PRINTED/E-MAILED, OR UPLOADED TO A LOST REPORT. AVOID SELECTING ANY PHOTOS OF YOUR PET WITH CHILDREN IN THEM, AND NEVER INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS IN YOUR REPORT
If confirmed sightings of your cat pertain to a specific area, but a search by yourself has not resulted in the retrieval of your cat, then you should consider renting a humane trap either from your local animal services or an animal rescue group. Whichever group loans out the trap, they will give you advice on its use; however, if you later experience some uncertainty there are videos that offer guidance. Cat traps will need to be monitored every couple of hours.
Note: If you decide to offer a reward, then sadly there are scammers out there, so always meet the finder in a public place and do not part with any reward if your pet is not present. Never wire transfer any reward money. If you suspect a scam, then report it to the police. I am of the opinion that a person who truly cares about animals will not accept a monetary reward. Knowing a lost pet and its owner have been reunited is the best reward to receive.