Finding a Lost Cat: A How To Guide
As if to rival the impending doom associated with the end of the world, here’s a scenario: your cat is lost. And you’re freaking out. We don’t blame you. Having been there before (my mischievous cat, Milk, was lost for an entire month), I can only express the utmost empathy for the situation you may find yourself in. Luckily for you, it’s rare for a cat to be gone for an entire 31 days like Milk. Chances are, with the following advice, you’ll be able to find your cat sooner than you think and return to your comfortable lifestyle of love, lounging, and feline friendship. Here’s how.
What precautions can you take to avoid this situation entirely?
If you’re lucky enough to be in a position where your feline best friend is safe and sound beside you, rejoice! Or perhaps you’ve lost your cat before (like me) and are just looking for a few tips to avoid a repeat occurrence. Here are a few crumbs of advice on how to avoid losing your cat and - as a consequence - losing your head.
1. Get your pet microchipped. This is a small step that can be paramount to the quick return of your lost cat. If your pet is friendly enough to come up to somebody or if a person is able to trap them and take them to the vet or a shelter, they can quickly scan the cat for a microchip and call you. As such, it’s also important after the microchip process to ensure that the chip is associated with your correct and updated contact information. For most microchip services, this can be done online.
2. Be mindful when entering and exiting your home. It goes without saying that cats are curious. Even the best-behaved indoor-only cat may get a little nosy about the outdoors at one time or another. So, be aware when you are opening a door to the outside. Cats are small and quick - they may be able to dart off without you even knowing it. Before you exit, look around and take notice of where your cat is lounging. When you enter, look down at the entrance to ensure that your cat isn’t waiting on the other side plotting his or her escape.
3. Keep a recent picture of your cat in your phone, just in case. This will be very helpful if you lose your cat and immediately start touring the neighborhood looking for him or her. This way, you can show neighbors what the kitty looks like and they can recall if they’ve seen the fellow run by. If they haven’t, then they know what to keep an eye out for. If you’re anything like me (or most cat owners) though, then this one won’t be too hard because of the 1,609,347 pictures you currently have of your cat in your phone album.
4. Get your cat a collar with your phone number on it. This way, if he or she is found, the person can quickly call you. This will help for an expedited return. Please note: this shouldn’t take the place of a microchip. Cats are able to get out of their collars all the time, so it is still important to get a proper microchip with your contact information attached digitally.
What should you do if your cat is lost?
1. Check thoroughly inside your home. It sounds obvious, but cats can wiggle into the strangest of places. They may simply be hiding inside your house! Look into all of the little crevices that you can find as well as their favorite hiding spots. Do not underestimate how small of a place they can get into.
2. Prepare a spot outside for them to guide them home. If they have a bed, place it outside. Include any of their favorite blankets or toys. Put some of your clothing in it, as well, so they can smell your scent. Set food and water outside by their bed. All of this will serve to draw them home if they are anywhere close to you.
3. Post online. Most cities and towns will have a Facebook group for lost and found pets. Start there. Include a picture of your pet as well as a description. State where your cat was initially lost and the associated neighborhood. Describe the date and time, as well, to the best of your knowledge. If your neighborhood has the app Nextdoor, it would be a good idea to post on there as well. Nextdoor is for verified residents of certain neighborhoods, so you will be able to have most of your neighbors on the lookout.
4. Print flyers and put them around the area. Deploy the ground troops. If you have friends or family members willing to help, hit the pavement! Search the area and put up flyers at the same time. If people look like they are willing to help, ask them if they have seen your cat. On the flyers, include the cat’s name and picture, your phone number, the location where he or she got out, and the date/time. This way, if anybody has seen your cat lurking around, they will make the connection when they see the flyer.
5. Search at night. Bring a flashlight and look in drains, under cars, and other hiding places. Fewer people will be out at night, which means your cat will be more likely to come out, especially if they are nervous about strangers or not used to being outside. The flashlight will help you see their eyes in hiding spots.
6. Try to stay calm! Be proactive and adamant about your search, but stay level-headed. Cats are smart and they will keep themselves safe as they try to make their way home. Odds are that you will find your feline friend shortly. And even if a month passes, they may still come home! Take it from me. If they are microchipped, too, they could be found even later down the line. Keep searching and posting and stay calm.
7. Check the adoptable pages as well as the found pages of local shelters and humane societies. Sometimes, if your cat is not microchipped or if the shelter was not able to find the microchip, you may be able to find your cat on their website of adoptable pets.
What should you do if you find a lost cat?
1. Check for a microchip. Most if not all local vet offices will have the capability to scan the found cat for a microchip. If they are able to find one, they will either contact the owner themselves or give you the number to do so. If no microchip is found, move on to the next step.
2. Keep the cat separated from your own pets if you have any. Even if you think the cat is good with animals and your pets are generally good with other animals, you never know. It’s a good idea to keep this found cat separate from your pets, especially if they may be carrying a disease or infestation.
3. Post online. As mentioned before, most cities and towns will have a Facebook group for lost and found pets. Include a picture of the cat as well as a description. State where the cat was found and the neighborhood associated. Tell the date and time, as well, to the best of your knowledge. If your neighborhood has the app Nextdoor, it would be a good idea to post on there as well. If the owner is on Nextdoor, they will be able to see the post. Or if somebody in the neighborhood knows the owner, they can make the connection.
4. Check lost and found postings. This can be online in Facebook groups, on the app Nextdoor, or physically on flyers. Take a walk around your neighborhood and pay attention to light poles and street signs to see if there are any flyers with lost cats on them.
5. If nobody comes forward soon, consider fostering the pet for the interim. If you aren’t able to foster, reach out to friends and family to see if anybody can. You can also post online to reach a larger population of people who may be able to help by fostering the animal until their owner is found. If considerable time has passed and you are not able to find the owner, see if you can find the cat a forever home. If you have the means, consider taking the cat to the vet for a checkup and to get any vaccinations or treatments that it may need.
We wish you the best in your search for your lost cat. Once they return safe and sound, or if they haven’t been lost in the first place, treat them to a special toy! We are partial to our Petozy Scratching Toy for even the most mischievous and lively of cats.
Do you have a crazy story about finding your lost cat? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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