It breaks my heart every time I see a “missing cat” flyer in my neighborhood. It’s horrible to think what that lost kitty and their family must be going through, and it could happen to any cat.
A feline can accidentally escape even the safest of homes. Sometimes a door is left open. Sometimes a cat sneaks past the leg of someone walking in. Even the most diligent cat parents make mistakes.
If that does happen to you and your beloved pet, here are some tips to help you find your lost kitty and bring them back home.
Stay Calm & Focused
(Picture Credit: DerleK/Getty Images)
Remaining calm is easier said than done. Of course you're upset, but you need to locate your pet as soon as possible, and panicking will only delay that from happening.
Every minute counts because the longer the time your cat is gone, the further they can travel.
So take a deep, cleansing breath so you can move forward to find your pet. It will help you think clearly and formulate a plan.
Check The Neighborhood
(Picture Credit: Vladimir1965/Getty Images)
Assuming you've already searched your home from top to bottom in every hiding place, left food and treats out, opened every closet door, and still not found your kitty, you'll have to bring the search outside.
Your next move should be to go door to door with a photo of your pet. Bring fliers if you can, and leave them with your neighbors so they will have your contact info and a photo of your pet to keep.
Maybe they haven't seen your cat yet, but that doesn't mean they won't see your cat in the coming days. Check your neighborhood carefully and make sure all your neighbors know who you are and that your cat is missing.
Make Phone Calls & Visit Local Shelters In Person
(Picture Credit: suemack/Getty Images)
Call around to neighbors, animal control, and local cat rescues. Once you're done with phone calls, get in your car and drive to all the shelters your cat could possibly be at.
Talk to the employees, bring more fliers, look at all the cats, including the ones back in the sick/holding area. Check the shelter daily because cats come in every day.
Many people return lost pets to shelters, and authorities often work with shelters to return pets to their humans when animals are found. Your local shelter will be a good resource to keep in touch with, even if your cat isn't there yet.
Post 'Lost Cat' Flyers
(Picture Credit: Jupiterimages/Getty Images)
The flier is going to be important. Be sure there is a clear photo of your cat and that the words "Lost Cat" or "Missing Cat" can be read clearly from several feet away or a passing car.
You'll want to canvas the area with fliers: the neighborhood, parks, library, gas station, cafes, book shops -- anywhere with a cork board or a place to hang fliers.
Don't reveal too much about your cat, or you could become a victim to scams. Hold back some details from the flier, like certain features or markings your cat has. Ask anyone who claims to have your cat for these details. You may also want to ask them to send a picture of your cat to make sure they have your pet.
If the person who contacts you asks about a reward, be extremely careful. You may offer a reward, but some scam artists kidnap pets and hold them until you give them money. If you notice anything suspicious, contact authorities. You can always arrange a meetup at the police station.
NOTE: Be sure to get permission before hanging fliers if that applies.
Use Social Media
(Picture Credit: Hill Street Studios/Getty Images)
Post a picture of your lost pet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and any other app or website that caters to the area where you live. The power of social media, especially local Facebook groups, can be especially effective in helping spread the word about your lost or missing cat.
Ask everyone to RESHARE your post. If you don't ask, people won't do it.
Don’t forget to send out an email or text blast with a photo and info about your cat to everyone you know in the general area. Ask them to then forward the info to everyone they know, and so on.
Scents Can Help
(Picture Credit: invizbk/Getty Images)
Leaving out an article of recently worn, unwashed clothing can help your cat find their way home because they could pick up and track your scent.
Putting out a bowl of your cat's favorite food can also help them track the smell to come home. Likewise, the familiar scents of your cat's litter box outside can help lure your kitty back.
It's best not to leave food out all the time, though, especially at night. Wild animals could be attracted to it and scare your cat off.
Don't Give Up
(Picture Credit: Vstock LLC/Getty Images)
It can be emotionally and physically exhausting looking for a lost cat, but don't stop. Sometimes it's useful to do a rigorous search for a couple days and then take a break for a day before you return to fight the good fight for your four-legged friend.
Remember: Many lost pets can be found only because of the dogged determination of their humans.
Have you ever found a lost cat? Do you have any tips to share with the rest of us? Let us know in the comments below!