1 in 3 cats will go missing in their lifetime. Hopefully this never happens to you, but if it does here are some tips to help!
First, look in the most common places in the home your pet spends the most time
Does he love to sleep in the dryer, high up in trees, or in your neighbor’s shed? Is she often found in your children’s toy box or the garden?
Have someone stay behind
When searching for your lost cat, have someone stay home. Most lost cats will return on their own. Outdoor cats on average will wander in a 3 mile radius from home on any given day, so they may not return home right away.
Verify microchip info
If your pet is microchipped or electronically identified, call the company and make sure all contact information is correct in case he or she is found and scanned.
Search your yard or common outside areas that your cat frequents.
If your cat goes outdoors, they will often go to areas that are familiar.
Contact neighbors and those in close proximity to your home
Have a recent picture of your pet to show, so your neighbors know what to look for.
Visit local shelters
Oftentimes, when animal control or a good samaritan finds a lost cat, the pet is brought to a local animal shelter. Bring a recent picture or fliers and leave your contact info in case anyone brings your cat in. Check shelters outside of your normal radius in the event your pet ventures far from home.
Call your local animal control
Animal control is often contacted first in the event that a stray or lost cat is found. Ask if they have picked up your cat and give them a specific physical description of your pet so they can be on the lookout if he or she has not been located yet.
Talk with local animal hospitals and clinics in your area
Take a picture or flier with your contact info and pet’s details.
Post on social media
Post info of your missing pet on every social media and local neighborhood app you have. Where he or she was last seen, a recent picture, and his or her name.
Hang posters and fliers
Print poster sized pictures and fliers of your cat and pertinent information. Hang in highly trafficked areas of your town. Use brightly colored, large signs to draw attention.
Check local marketplace websites
Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, will sometimes have pets for sale (which is technically illegal, but happens anyway), up for adoption, or pets that are found. Your cat may be listed.
Beware of scams
Unfortunately, scam artists will take advantage of those looking for their missing pets. Do not go alone to meet someone who claims to have found your pet or wire money to people. Also do not give anyone money who claims to have your pet or says they know who has your pet. Avoid truck drivers who say they saw your pet and will turn around to get him or her after you have paid them. Some may also falsely state your pet has been found and is at the vet. The scammer will demand you pay the fake vet bill before your pet is returned.
The ASPCA found that 74% of lost cats are eventually found and reunited with their owner(s) and of that percentage, 95% of cats return home on their own. Don’t give up!
Once your cat has been found, here are some ways to help in the event he or she goes missing again.
1. Have your pet microchipped even if your cat is indoor only
A microchipped cat is 20 times more likely to be returned to its owner in the event that he or she is lost than a non microchipped cat! A microchip is an electronic device, smaller than a grain of rice, that is placed under your cat’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The procedure is very quick, does not involve sedation or anesthesia, and is quite painless. The microchip holds a unique code that is specific to only your pet. Once this code is registered, you can add your contact info to be associated with your pet’s specific code. If your pet is lost, he or she can be scanned at a shelter or vet’s office. The microchip company is then contacted, who will then contact you. Microchip placement is inexpensive and only needs to be done once in your pet’s lifetime.
2. Use a One Pet ID tag
It’s a free pet finder solution that helps quickly reunite lost pets with their loved ones. The ID is scannable by any smartphone and your profile stores important, detailed information about your pet. Pet parents will have a network of support, including updates to their phone, to help their pet get home safe and sound. If you’re already an AskVet member, One Pet ID syncs with your app to store your pet’s information. And if you don’t have a membership, AskVet is offering the One Pet ID service absolutely FREE! So excited to share this with everyone! You can check it out, and get one for your pet, here: https://askvet.app/one-pet-id/
3. Place a collar with identification tags
Collars can hold Rabies licenses tags and personalized tags with contact info. These tags can be attached from a metal loop or can be embroidered or attached to the collar material.
4. Introduce pets to neighbors and those close by
If you are new to an area, have a new pet, or have neighbors that recently moved in, introduce your pets. This can be done in person or with pictures. If your cat decides to wander to the neighbor two doors down, you will more likely be contacted instead of animal control.
5. Consider a catio
If your indoor cat is often escaping to the outdoors, consider getting a catio. This is an environmentally enriched outdoor enclosure for cats. It allows them to have outdoor time safely, free from predators and toxins, and keeps them from roaming far from home.
6. GPS collars and wearable trackers are great.
These wearable devices will allow you to know where your pet is at all times within a certain radius. This is a great tool for cats that frequently are on the go. You must have a cat that tolerates wearing a collar for this to be successful.
LINKS TO HELP
Cat Finder: https://catfinder.org
PETCO Love Lost: https://lost.petcolove.org
Pet FBI: https://petfbi.org
Lost My Kitty: https://www.lostmykitty.com
Tabby Tracker: https://www.tabbytracker.com
Paw Boost: https://www.pawboost.com
Find Toto: https://www.findtoto.com
Written By: Dr. Jessie Herman
Dr. Herman grew up in many places as a child of a Marine. She started her veterinary career at 14 years of age working at various farms and animals hospitals. After graduating from Auburn University College of Veterinary medicine in 2010, she worked as a general practitioner in multiple locations in the southeast US. Her professional interests include soft tissue surgery, geriatric medicine, and pain management. She also has a passion for rehabilitation which lead her to start a cold laser therapy program in 2 different hospitals. She currently resides in northern Kentucky with her husband (also a vet), children, cats, dogs, chickens, and cattle.