What To Do If Your Cat Is Lost

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Indoor house cats become daring and can bolt or meander outside when the door is left ajar, especially in spring and warmer season months. Many of our team members here at Be Green Pro have been through it ourselves, which is why we recently compiled the following tips for pet owners facing the challenge of finding a lost cat. We hope you find these tips helpful, and we give special thanks to Dawn Wait for sharing her wisdom after 20 years of working with cat rescue facilities.

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Begin Your Search Immediately

Don't wait! Begin searching as soon as possible. Waiting for him/her to come home may be a possibility, but indoor cats are typically scared and seek hiding spots in small places close to home, a few houses around, or a block away. The longer the wait time, the more chance they can wander farther or become desperate in search of food or water. Cats may run if chased, especially by an unfamiliar friend or foe, and unknowingly land miles away from home. 

Try to check these common hiding spaces where cats are often found after going missing:

  • Under cars
  • Decks
  • Patios
  • Porches
  • Sheds
  • Drainpipes
  • Stairs
  • Window wells
  • Garages 
  • Bushes
  • Woods
  • Up trees
  • Roofs 

Try To Lure Your Cat To You

Walk around calling their name, mimicking a gentle meow or sound you use at home that is familiar to them. Shake a treat bag or favorite noise-making toy such as a bell or crinkle. Carry smelly food or treats to encourage them to emerge if they are scared and hiding. Listen very, very carefully for low meows or rustling. Use a flashlight to catch and reflect their eyes. A good time to go looking is twilight and very early pre-dawn morning when it’s quieter, calmer, and near feeding time. Hunger and help feeling safe is a great motivator for courage to come out of hiding.

Garage space is a safe space for a cat to return home if home security is appropriate in the circumstance. Be sure to leave an opening for the cat to enter with the enticement of strong-smelling favorite cat foods, water, and familiar scented clothing and blankets. A litter box is additionally a useful encouragement to draw kitty in.

  • TIMING IS KEY! It is important to remember that your cat has likely not wandered too far too fast, meaning that physical searches are still the most effective way to bring your kitty back home. Use these tactics of luring your cat by yourself before spending the time it takes to reach out to others for help.

Notify The Neighborhood

If the cat is not found immediately, talk to and alert everyone you know who lives in your vicinity. File a report and search lost pet sites such as “Lost Cats of Wisconsin” where there is a FREE option to create a flyer. The flyer can be used for various search efforts, physically and virtually. Create social media posts and share them with social groups to encourage friends and neighbors to keep a watchful eye and aid in search efforts. Share the flyer on sites such as Pet FBI, Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook, and Instagram, and ask local businesses if you can post the “Lost Pet” flyer showing a photo and who to contact if there is a sighting or rescue. Notify local police and fire stations as well as animal control shelters, humane societies, and local veterinary offices.

To go the more traditional route, printing and posting physical flyers is always a good idea when searching for a missing furry friend. Hanging posters allows passersby the opportunity to take notice of your missing kitty by just going about their day. This means that your neighbors will see what your cat looks like and remember that someone out there is looking for it if they happen to identify your feline friend somewhere in the area. Keep the following locations in mind when hanging up physical missing posters around the neighborhood:

  • Telephone poles
  • Street corners
  • Community bulletin boards
  • Mailboxes (with permission)
  • Bus stops
  • Grocery stores
  • Coffee shops
  • Pet stores
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Libraries
  • Community centers

Set A Live Trap

Set a pet carrier, live trap, or shelter box right outside your door for a welcoming and safe hiding haven. Place clothing and blankets with a familiar scent from the people or the home they love inside or near the makeshift shelter. Check quietly and frequently. A live trap should not be set in extreme weather unless consistent monitoring is available for immediate rescue.

Enlist The Help Of Other Animals

A family dog or even another companion cat can be an ally while searching. Animals have keen senses of hearing and smell. Provide an item for the companion animal to smell with the missing cat’s scent, and then provide a treat and repeat. With the companion animal on a leash or harness, invite them to join your search on the walk. Watch carefully for signs of direction change, stopping for long smells or staring in covered hiding spaces.

Repeat & Retrace Your Steps

Search again often. Begin by creating a radius a few blocks away and circling back closer to home and repeat the opposite direction and sequence. You may miss the cat the first time, the cat may move, or it may not be meowing. Repeating the cycle can touch the right place at the right time and provide a familiar scent and sense of security to help the cat find you. Look carefully for tracks and signs on the ground such as fur or paw prints and places they might hide.

Check Local Animal Shelters

It may take weeks before you find your furry family member, or someone finds them for you. Kitty may have been taken in as a stray and find its way back out or be surrendered to an animal shelter. Visit rescue facilities and shelters IN PERSON and often to visually have eyes on all the cats they have. Simply relying on pictures or the person answering the phone leaves a wide margin of error between updates and actuals, although they do their best, resources can be a limitation.

Stay Positive & Prevent Future Incidents

The most important piece of advice is simply to stay positive and not give up! Your kitty is out there and waiting for you to find it, so make sure you follow all the steps listed in this blog post to ensure a swift and safe reunion. Once you find your cat, try to figure out how and why it got lost in the first place. Did you leave your door open? Is there a neighbor who leaves out food? Does Kitty have a crush on another nearby cat and just wanted to say hi? Figuring out the reason your cat left home is the first step in preventing any future incidents. 

Remember, prevention is always the best remedy. Be sure to microchip pets and review the latest tracking technologies, which are becoming less expensive and more advanced. We hope you have found these tips helpful and effective if you are looking for your lost cat. If you are looking for your cat anywhere in the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin area, call Be Green Pro at (262) 361-4034 to let us know if we can help. Our team is always out in the neighborhoods, and we will be happy to keep an eye out for you until your kitty comes home!