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Tips for finding your lost cat

  • If your cat is an indoor cat, first immediately search your neighborhood.  Cats who are unfamiliar with the outdoors often become scared and will try to hide.  Pay close attention to anyplace your cat could be hiding.  While calling to your cat in a calm, loving manner, search next to houses, behind and under bushes and small trees.  Look under cars or anything else that your cat may be under.  Ask everyone you come into contact with if they have seen it.  Give them an accurate and complete description of your cat.  Ask neighbors to check in their garages and all other buildings on their property.  In warmer months, have neighbors check in their cars.  Cats will sometimes climb into cars through windows that have been left open.

  • If you do not find your cat in the immediate area, report it missing to your local police department, animal control facilities and area humane societies.  Give a detailed description of your cat, including its breed or mix, coat type, age, ear and tail characteristics, the sex of your cat, whether it has been neutered or spayed, your cat’s name, the date and area your cat was last seen, type of collar it was wearing and any tags it may have on.  Also include any identifying marks or characteristics.   Cats can travel quite far, so if your cat was lost near a city or county boundary, file a report with every possible community your cat could be picked up in.  Each community has their own animal control.  To determine the impound facility for a particular city, click here for a listing of metro area impound facilities and the cities they serve.

  • Call all facilities on a daily basis and visit them in person at least every three days until you find your cat.  State law requires that strays be kept for only 5 days before they are sold for research, euthanized or placed for adoption.  Going in person avoids mistakes that can be made over the phone.  When checking at Humane Societies, ask a staff person to take you back to the holding area where the stray animals are kept.

  • Make up flyers with a photograph of your cat, and include the same information you gave when filling out the lost animal report with the humane societies and impound facilities.  Be sure to include on the flyer a telephone number you can be reached at that has voice mail, and program your outgoing message to let people know they have the correct number and to leave any information they have regarding your cat.

  • Display these flyers any and everywhere possible—on traffic poles, at bus stops, grocery stores, community centers, gas stations, coffee shops, and veterinary clinics within at least a 2-mile or a 20-block radius of where your cat was last seen.  Also send flyers to all veterinary clinics within a 60-mile radius.  Offering a reward is a good idea because it becomes an incentive for others to be on the lookout for your cat.  The more people who see your flyer, the better chance your cat will be found. 

  • Walk or drive through your neighborhood as many times as your schedule will allow each day.  Talk to and hand out flyers to all your neighbors, mail carriers, delivery people, or anyone else you happen to see. 

  • Place an ad in your city and local newspaper.  Again be sure to give an accurate description including the area and date your animal was last seen.

  • Many times a cat that has gotten out will be scared and need to be coaxed home.  Make a comfortable bed in a sheltered, cat accessible area of your yard—on a porch if possible—be sure to put something in the bed with your cat’s scent on it, such as a blanket or favorite toy.  Next put out a spoonful of tuna fish; real tuna, not tuna cat food.  Use a tuna fish packed in oil; the scent can travel 2 or more miles.  Other cats and animals may dine on your tuna as well, but if your cat is still in the area, it will more than likely show up as well too.  Once your cat is back in your yard and finds the bed with its scent on it, it usually stays.

  • Lastly, do not give up your search.  Animals who have been lost for months have been returned to their homes.  When you do find your cat, consider having it micro-chipped.  Microchips can be implanted in animals by veterinarians, and contain owner information.  All impound facilities, humane societies and veterinary clinics are able to read microchips.  Those animals with a microchip are returned to their owners much quicker than those without.


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