What happens if my cat gets lost?

When your indoor cat goes missing it is an anxiety-inducing time, and your worry, picturing the worst case scenarios, doesn’t help you to think straight, act quickly, and find your four-legged friend fast.

10 May 2015 By Sarah Billington Comments

Inside Cats

If Trixie is an inside-only cat, then the idea of her slipping through an open door or window is a constant concern. Trixie won’t know her way around or what dangers there are outside, such as other neighbourhood animals, wildlife and traffic.

But don’t immediately think the worst. Trixie might not have even left the house at all. 

Give the house a thorough check-through, under mattresses, behind books in bookshelves, perhaps in a drawer you pushed closed earlier (my cat was missing for seven hours because she had decided to take a nap in a drawer and I’d pushed it closed when looking for her). Check low places like under beds and couches, and high places like at the back of closets and on top of bookcases or kitchen cupboards.

Many cats are excellent hiders and you might be surprised at their ingenuity. When Zookie reader Erin first got her cat, Angel, she lived in the bathroom at night. One morning Erin opened the bathroom door and Angel was nowhere to be found. The tiles were cold, you see, so Angel had somehow climbed inside the vanity drawers and spent her nights warm and cosy sleeping on towels.

So don’t panic. Trixie might still be quite comfortable inside, or trapped somewhere (like in a drawer *cough*) and need your assistance to get herself out. 

Curiosity got the cat: if your inside cat gets out 

If you haven’t seen your cat for some hours, there is no sign that she has been around, such as food eaten, water drunk or favourite toys moved, it is worth checking all the exits – doors and windows that Trixie may have used to slip outside.

Still – don’t panic! Most likely in the new, foreign environment called ‘outside’ she won’t have wandered far and is hiding somewhere nearby that feels safe.

If you find a door ajar or window open a crack, use these areas as your starting point.

Lock other pets inside and keep them away from your search. Dogs in particular could become excited at this new game you’re playing, and their excitement could frighten Trixie further afield. Leave the house at this open exit and follow the house around to the right, then around the house to the left (or vice versa).

Call Trixie gently, calmly, and listening often for her meowed replies.

Carry a torch – even in daylight – so that you can shine it into dark areas, such as under the house, and spot the telltale reflection of Trixie’s eyes in the beam.

Bring a tin of smelly wet food or tuna outside and set it by the door. Puncture some holes in the top of a can of cat food so that the smell escapes, but the food can’t be reached. This way, Trixie will be likely to stay nearby for longer as she tries to access the food.

Guide her home by leaving out a blanket that smells like her, or item of unwashed clothing that smells like you, near the door for her so that she can smell the safety and security of familiar scents and find her own way back home.

Look up as well as down. Check in trees and on rooftops as well as in bushes, under the house and under cars. If it is cold, think of warm places – cats sometimes climb into car wheel wells or even engines for a toasty place to sleep. Similarly, if it is hot, think of cooler places she could be hiding.

Check again at nightfall. Even if she is around when you’re calling her during the day, she may not feel safe leaving her hiding place in broad daylight. Coming out in the cover of darkness can feel a lot safer so make sure you search again at nighttime, gently calling and listening for her.If she has not returned after that first day, make sure to leave food and water outside for her by the door. It might be devoured by local wildlife but it’s important that she has access to food and water while outside, as it is unlikely she will know how to fend for herself.

Contact your neighbours and let them know she is missing, as well as providing vets, groomers and local animal shelters with a flyer with photograph. Detail any particularly prominent markings, things she might respond to, and your all-important contact details so that they can contact you if she is found. Follow up regularly with shelters, particularly as they see a lot of animals and may not recognise her by the specific description you provided. 

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are excellent tools for quickly spreading the word about lost pets to your networks so that everyone knows to keep their eyes peeled. 

Before Trixie even has the opportunity to get lost, make sure to get her microchipped. That way if she does go wandering you can quickly and easily be reunited.


What tricks have you used to find a lost pet?

10 May 2015 By Sarah Billington Comments

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