Having a pet get out and get lost is one of a cat parent’s worst nightmares. If your cat becomes lost, act fast and don’t give up your search. How quickly and carefully you search, and how persistent and resourceful you are, can determine whether or not your cat will be found. Here are 7 of our top tips for finding a lost cat:
1. Talk to Your Neighbors
When you’re out searching for your cat, this is no time to be shy! Knock on your neighbors’ doors and ask them if you can search around their yards for your cat. Also, show them a photo of your kitty and leave your contact information so they can contact you if they happen to see a cat that they think may be yours.
2. Put Fresh Food & Water Outside, and a Dirty Litter Box
Leave fresh food and water outside on your porch or under a sheltered area by your house. Leave some of your own belongings, like a stinky t-shirt and old tennis shoes there as well – something that will have a familiar scent. If your cat is indoors-only and has escaped outside, he or she may be fearful and the sights and sounds from the great outdoors could be disorienting. Something with a strong scent – like a dirty litter box – will help your cat identify and find her way home.
3. Don’t Chase!
If you happen to spot your cat while you’re out searching, whatever you do – don’t chase after her! She’s most likely scared and will run if you chase after her. Instead, bring a bag of high-reward meaty treats with you and call softly to her. If your cat stops to look at you, drop to a kneeling position, don’t look her in the eyes, and stretch your hand out. Using your calmest voice, call out to her. If you’re lucky, your cat will sometimes come right to you.
4. If You Have Recently Moved, Check Your Old Neighborhood
Many cats go missing after a move, and a large percentage of them attempt to return to their old territory. Cats actually have a “homing instinct”, and it can be disrupted after a move. If you’re within 10 miles of your old residence and your cat goes missing, see if he or she has gone back there.
5. Make “Lost Cat” Signs
Make “lost cat” signs with a recent, clear photo of your cat and the best phone numbers to reach you. It would help to include a reward as an incentive, but it’s not necessary. Place the signs on mailboxes around your neighborhood (only on the outside – it’s against the law to put them inside!), on bulletin boards, in local veterinary offices, pet stores, and inside local restaurants with permission. It’s a good idea to use laminating sheets to protect your signs that will be exposed to any rain or snow to keep them from getting damaged.
6. Visit Your Local Shelter and County Animal Control
Don’t just call the shelters, and don’t expect the very busy shelter staff to be able to properly identify your cat or to call you. Visit the shelters every two to three days!
7. Use Classified Websites and Social Media
Place a classified ad on your local website. Include the same information you put on your “Lost Cat” sign and include photos. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great networking resources. Just about every metro area has a Lost Pets social media group. Share a picture with your local connections and join groups that deal with lost and found pets to get the word out.
Once you’ve got your cat back home, it’s a really good idea to take him or her to the vet for a checkup – even if he looks okay. Check for cuts and scrapes and make sure he hasn’t picked up any parasites on his outdoor adventure. …and have a microchip inserted if your cat doesn’t have one.
• Having your cat microchipped by the vet is a safe way to safeguard your kitty in the event he should get lost while not wearing a collar and ID tag. They are about the size of a grain of rice and are embedded just underneath your cat’s skin between the shoulder blades. Microchips store your name and contact information and, in the event your cat is found and a vet’s office or shelter uses a scanner to check for the chip, they can call you and let you know they’ve found your furry friend. Be sure your information is always kept current if you move or change your phone number.
• Always keep a current photograph of your cat handy. This is pretty easy for those of us who have thousands of photos of our cats on our smartphones! Make sure you have a full-body photo that shows any identifying marks should you need to prove a particular cat is, in fact, yours.
• A collar with identification tags is a good idea to keep on your cat if he or she is prone to escaping. Be sure the collar is made for cats and has a safety breakaway buckle – don’t use a dog collar on your kitty! You can have tags custom engraved with your cat’s name and your phone number and also any important medical information about your cat. For example, if your cat needs medication every day, it’s a good idea to have that engraved on his tag.
• Train your cat to respond to the “come” command. Teach your cat this “trick” and make sure he or she knows it well. Hopefully, the day never comes that you’ll need to use it, but if it does, it could come in very handy!
If your cat has a tendency to dart out the front door whenever it’s opened, see these 5 Tips To Avoid Door Dashing in Cats!
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