Firstly, double-check inside your house. Cats like to hide and are known to climb into very high or very small spaces including in wardrobes and cupboards.
If your cat has escaped outside, they are likely to be overwhelmed and frightened by the outside world and their first instinct will be to hide. Scared and in unfamiliar territory, an indoor cat will often sit somewhere in silence – they won’t meow or call for help, but they will wait patiently for you to find them.
Think like your cat – are they likely to hide somewhere low to the ground, under the house or inside the garden shed for example. Or do they prefer heights, in which case you’ll need to check the roof and look skyward in the branches of trees.
Outdoor cats that don’t come home at night normally go missing when their journey home has been interrupted. There are a number of possible scenarios, your cat may have got into a fight with another cat, have been chased a few blocks away by a dog, got trapped in a neighbour’s garden shed or be lying injured somewhere. Your cat is just as likely to be enjoying a meal inside the house of a well-meaning neighbour who thinks your cat is a stray.
Act Fast and Start Searching
To increase your chances of finding your cat, you need to commence your search sooner rather than later.
1. Walk the neighbourhood
Walk around your local streets and call out to your cat. Try shaking a box of cat biscuits if this is a familiar sound for your cat. Take a torch (even if it is daylight) so you can check dark areas such as under houses and the grates of drains. Ensure you look under bushes and cars and up in the branches of trees. Conduct your search during the day and at night. If you have recently moved house, check your old street address in case your cat has tried to find its way back to its previous home.
2. Knock on doors
Ask your neighbours for permission to check under their houses, in garages or sheds. Scared or injured cats will hide and they may not be far from home.
3. Make a ‘Lost Cat’ flyer and poster
Create a flyer of your cat with a clear photo, detailed description, and your contact details and drop these in letter boxes in your local area. Adapt your flyer to create a poster to display in neighbouring streets – include tabs at the bottom with your phone number on so that people can rip these off and call you if they see your cat. You can also post your flyers on community noticeboards and in the shop windows of local businesses.
4. Contact local vets and animal shelters
Contact the vets in your area and the local animal shelters or pounds. Provide them with a clear description of your cat, a photo and ask them to contact you if they hear anything or if your cat is turned in. Call them regularly to see if there is any news.
5. Get on Facebook
Post about your missing cat on Facebook and ask your friends to ‘share’. There are many local rescue groups / animal shelters and lost pet coordinators who will also help spread the world on their pages and help you to locate your cat.
6. Advertise in your local paper or online
Take out an ad in the ‘lost and found’ pet section of your local paper, include details of where your cat went missing, a physical description and your contact details. Check out Gumtree (in Australia) or your local trading post website and place an ad online too. Make sure you also check the notices of cats found.
Whilst it is often easier said than done, try to stay calm and positive – and keep searching!
Have you ever lost or found a missing cat?