Reasons Your Cat May Be Missing
- Does your cat have a habit of wandering? Some cats wander a lot further than others and may simply get lost from time to time.
- Could something have scared him/her?
- Could they have been feeling sick?
- Are they a curious cat?
- Could they have ventured into next door’s shed and gotten trapped?
- Would they have jumped into a car/van?
- Have you recently moved? Could they have gone back to your old property?
- Is your cat neutered? Cats which aren’t neutered will often wander a lot further in search of a mate.
Answers to these and other questions could help give clues about what may have happened to your cat and help you with your search.
The second time Freddie went missing, he was found a few streets away, but the next time he was further away. Some cats seem to have a natural instinct to return to their homesI don’t think Freddie was one of them. He just got hopelessly lost.
What We Learned
We have learned that Freddie only goes missing if he is let out after dark. I think this is because it is darker and quieter and he feels safer exploring at this time. We have a cat flap, and both times he went missing, he went out at about 11pm at night and never came back. Now, we close the cat flap when it gets dark and he is no longer let out a night. He hasn’t been missing since. He never wanders far in the day.
When making a missing-cat poster, be sure to use a clear, distinctive photo and provide a detailed description.
How To Find A Lost Cat With A Microchip
Many people assume that a cat microchip will help them locate their cat immediately if they go missing. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Unlike a microchip, a GPS cat tracker helps you find your lost cat in minutes by letting you follow their location in real-time.
To find a lost cat with a microchip, youll need to wait until someone finds your cat and brings them in to a shelter or vet where the microchip ID can be read.
If your contact details on the microchip ID are up to date, and if youre lucky enough to get a call about your missing cat, youll be reunited.
While a microchip is a security must-have, it does not actively help you search for a lost cat or guarantee that they will be returned to you.
Borrow Or Purchase A Humane Trap
Because its most likely that your cat is on your property or close by, and that it may not come to you or anyone else, setting up a humane trap could help you recover your cat. The trap is baited with strong-smelling food and your cat will be hungry, especially if its been holed up and frightened, so the trap itself with the food may bring it out. Get the trap the first day if possible.
The trap does not hurt the cat, but when it walks inside to eat the food it steps on a plate that releases the door so that it closes behind the cat.
Your cat may feel safe to emerge from its hiding place at night when its quiet and fewer people are around, so even though daytime may be more convenient to set a trap and watch it, you may be more likely to catch your cat overnight.
Rather than running for your cat if you see it approach the trap, try to let your cat go into the trap. Your cat may still be in safety mode, afraid of everything that moves, and you may frighten it away.
Shelters, wildlife services, animal supply and feed stores and animal rescues often have traps to loan to you and informed people who can give you instructions and sometimes even to help you. Follow the instructions you are given about how to set the trap and bait the trap, and how to handle the trap and your cat if your cat is trapped in it.
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But What If They Don’t
The cat has now disappeared under your porch. You can see him in the farthest corner. So how do you get his attention? Set out some yummy cat food and water for him nearby. Then you retreat, and you wait. You want the food as near to your front door as possible. If you are lucky, the cat will come out when he is calmer and eat and come in the house.
Prevent Your Cat From Getting Out Again
Preventative measures can help make sure that your cat never escapes , like checking all screens and discouraging them from going near the front door. Giving your cat a collar with ID information, as well as microchipping your cat, are also important to your cats safety, as they are the first things people check when they find a lost animal. Shelters routinely scan for microchips after a pet is turned in they are the fastest way to get cats back with their rightful homes.
Do you have any tips to finding lost cats? Has your cat ever got lost? Tell us in the comments!
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Use Distraction Techniques To Coax Cat Onto The Trigger Plate
You may be able to guide some cats into a trap with a laser pointer. You can use a pointer from quite a distance away, too. Use the laser to emulate the movement of an insect, to draw the cats attention inside the trap.
Hang a piece of cooked chicken from a string above the trigger plate. The cat will likely need to step on the trigger to reach the chicken. Tie the chicken in the far right corner of the trap so that the cat must reach to get the chicken.
Plan Your Outdoor Search
You need to take many actions but cant do them all at once, so using points one through four above, determining if they escaped, how and when they escaped and considering characteristics of their personality, will help you focus on a likely area to search and begin with the best methods for success.
Indoor-only cats whove escaped outside their territory inside the house rarely go far at the time they escape.
At this point, you are not looking for a cat on the run, but a cat in hiding, so dont go on a chase, look for clues.
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What Are The Differences Between An Indoor And Outdoor Cat
It is easier to keep a cat inside when you live in a flat. But it also depends on the breed. Some breeds like Persian cats, Russian cats, Ragdoll cats, or Birman cats are known to be homebodies.
A kitten that has been used to living inside might not be frustrated being kept indoors. They will grow up without missing the great outdoors as they have never experienced it.
It is different for outdoor cats as they feel freer and have been used to going outside. In that case, it might be harder to keep your cat inside. It is also not a matter of prohibiting your cat from going outside all of a sudden or you might get stuck with a cat crying and meowing all day at the door.
If you do not have a cat flap, it will be easier to stop your cat from going outside. Some cat flaps can be programmed, and you can block the opening during certain hours. At first, the cat may express its displeasure with a nagging cry, so it is important to hold on and not give in. They will eventually get used to a new routine, whether they like it or not.
Once your cat has gotten used to not go out at night, you can reduce its daytime outings by delaying its first stroll or calling them home early.
Putting Up Lost Posters
It is also very important to let your neighbours and any passers-by know of your cats disappearance. Put up lost posters and hand out flyers with a picture of your cat, any distinctive signs, and your contact information.
Put up lost posters on electric polls, on your supermarket noticeboard and slip flyers in letterboxes. Do not forget to ask your neighbours to check their garage and garden shed, your cat might have gotten stuck in there.
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Spring The Trap Yourself
The problem may be a particular cat is wily, or it could be that hes only one you want out of a crowd of others who keep going in ahead of him. In either case, the solution is to bypass the trigger/trip plate mechanism of the trap and go to manually spring the trap. You can do this by propping the trap door up with a full water or soda bottle and tying a pull string to it. Tie a long string around the neck of the bottle then stand some distance away. When your cat of choice finally goes in, yank the string, pulling the bottle away and shutting the trap door. Be sure to first practice the method at least once so you get the right feel for it, and wait until the cat is far enough in before you pull the string.
Watch these short videos demonstrating how the water bottle trick works:www.youtube.com/WATER BOTTLE TRICK IN ACTION
What Foods Are Irresistible To Cats
Finally, whatever your situation when dealing with luring cats, you need to be sure to use the right type of food. Some cat owners will pick dry treats that they can shake and use for a distinctive audible sound. This could work if it has brought cats to you in the past. However, cats are more in tune with their sense of smell than hearing. If they can smell something irresistible from under the sofa or up the tree, it could work. Fish products, especially canned fish like tuna and sardines, are great choices.
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Tip #: Consider Using A Humane Cat Trap
You can ask animal control or local cat rescues if they have a humane cat trap you can borrow. This can be a good option for extremely shy or skittish kitties.
Make sure to do your research before you try out this method. There are some good tips in this article from the Community Cat Coalition, a non-profit based in Washington.
If possible, consult with a local expert from animal control, a cat rescue, or a TNR program. Sometimes, they will even be willing to come help you with this process in person.
Photo Credit: Austin Humane Society
Search Inside Your House
If you cant find your cat and also cant find a convincing exit point, your cat may still be in your home somewhere.
Its very important to also use a good flashlight that you can shine into every nook and cranny. Even if you have excellent eyesight and daylight, cats can fit inside darned small places that are usually dark, and if a cat is holding completely still whether asleep or frightened youd be surprised that youd overlook it. The flashlight will help highlight details and most importantly will shine on their eyes in dark spaces. Look inside of every closed door and cabinet and inside every trash can and other container, in the rafters in your basement, in areas your cat may have gained access to such as the attic or crawl spaces, in the underside of mattresses and furniture, between the clothes in your closet, the possibilities are endless but take at least a half hour if not more to search the inside of your home.
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You Can Try Luring Your Cat Home
If you think your cat is hiding nearby, you can try putting out some strong-smelling fish when it gets dark. Do it at the same time every night, then try to keep watch from a distance to see if your cat will venture out to eat it. When he is hungry enough, he will venture out when he feels safe, which is normally under the cover of night.
Note: Since writing this article, I’ve read advice not to put out strong-smelling fish at night in case it attracts predators and other big cats and therefore scares your cat from coming back. This is definitely something to bear in mind. It did work in Freddie’s case though. We put it in an area where it was light enough to see who or what was eating it and watched the food. We only left it out for a short amount of time before he was back.
Will My Other Cat Look For My Missing Cat
Some people wonder if their other cats will look for and maybe help them find the missing cat in their family. Eva Morchairs shared a success story like this on Quora:
Tofu didnât come home after being let outside to play. I stayed up all night worrying about her. Come morning, still no sign of her. I had another cat, Fifi, that wanted to go outside and play. Before I let her go outside I picked her up and held her face up to mine and made eye contact with her and asked her to go and find Tofu. I told her to go find her and bring her home. I gave her a small kiss on the nose and I opened the back door for her and let her go play. About twenty minutes later my mom called out to me Fifi and Tofu were both sitting on the steps outside my back door.
So, it seems like its worth a shot. You could try asking your other cats to help you find the missing one. But of course, this may not work, as the companion cats may not be willing to explore unfamiliar places in search of the lost one, in favor of their familiar territory.
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How To Lure A Cat Out Of Hiding
Lets start with those cats that have crawled under the sofa or climbed onto the wardrobe because they were scared by something. They need to be sure that any threat has passed and that joining you is the best idea. Offer them something that they will want. Treats, food, and toys are all great starting points. But, there is no rush to get them to come out. Take your time.
How To Attract A Cat Runner Back Home
- Try to use toys with catnip, the cats herb.
- Do not chase or surprise the cat as this will scare you even more.
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Start At The House Work Outward
OK, assuming you didnt see your cat jet out the door, Albrechts first tip is to make absolutely sure your lost cat isnt still in the house. Once, a family contacted her, convinced a bobcat had killed their missing cat. After a few days, the family opted to adopt a new kitten. The homecoming of the mewing kitten triggered a noise from the houses chimneywhere the first cat was stuck.
Once youve searched inside, start searching around the outside of your house, under decks and porches, and in other smaller places where a cat could hide. If you own an indoor cat, its very likely they will be somewhere near your house, Albrecht says. If that search doesnt yield results, head over to your neighbors. But, she says, dont just ask whether theyve seen the cat, ask to search around their house like you did at your home. It might mean getting a bit dirty on your hands and knees, using flashlights to peer into dark places. Its up to you, not your neighbor.
They’re just not going to care that much to do that, so you need to do that, Albrecht says.
A 2017 study on missing cats measured how far away from home 477 cats were found. The median distance was about 50 meters from home. For indoor cats, the median distance was 39 meters128 feetaway.
Cats with access to the outdoorsones who might roam around the neighborhood freelywere often found farther away. Their median distance was measured at 300 meters, more than three football fields away, according to the study.