What To Do If Your Cat Goes Missing? Search Tips & Resources That You Might Need 2022


Tonight I’m writing with great pleasure. My missing cat has returned home after three days! He went out Tuesday morning and never returned. There was no trace of him anywhere. I scoured our parking lots and the woods at all hours of the day and night, put up leaflets, filed a “lost” report with animal control, and listed him on Craig’s List’s Pets and Missing and Found sections, as well as the local lost pets groups on Facebook. I received a lot of advice on how to locate missing cats, but no one had seen my cat.

When I call him, he always meows his squeaky, weird meow. So I was exploring in the woods again this afternoon when I heard him meowing. The poor little man was lying in the snow under a shrub on the outskirts of the woods.

He’s currently at home, sound asleep in his favorite chair in my office. Every few minutes, I peek around to make sure he’s still there.

He is an experienced indoor/outdoor cat, so his disappearance was much more terrifying. However, regardless of the cat’s lifestyle, losing a cat is terrible and painful. There are several websites that explain how to locate missing animals, and I’ll provide links to a handful of them below. But first, I’d want to provide a couple of my own suggestions based on my own personal experience with my own cats and rescue.

  • Start your search right away. The sooner you begin looking for your lost cat, the easier it will be to find him.
  • If you live with strictly indoor cats, check every nook and cranny of your house. This may seem obvious, but many “lost” cats have been found wrapped up in comforters, in drawers and closets, above ceiling tiles and behind washers and dryers. Use your imagination, and think like a cat!
  • If your cats go out, take a cat with you when you search or borrow a neighbor’s cat-friendly dog. Animals are very good at finding lost cats who want to be found.
  • When you call your cat outside, wait a few minutes before moving on so he has time to come to you or meow to let you know where he is. Many lost cats are too frightened to come when called. But if your cat’s not scared or injured, he might come to the sound of your voice.
  • When you spot your cat, approach him very slowly. Bend over and make yourself as small as possible, or sit on the ground so you’re at his level. Remember, he’s probably scared and he might not even realize the human approaching him is you. Offering him treats might encourage him to come to you. 
  • If you’re not very confident you’ll be able to carry the cat all the way home, take a top-loading carrier with you. If the cat gets away from you, it could be days before you see him again. Or set a humane trap. Most animal control agencies have traps to loan or rent. Never leave an open trap unsupervised, and cover it with a large towel as soon as the cat goes in.
  • An animal communicator can help you narrow your search. While she won’t get an exact street address, she will probably be able to find out whether the cat is inside or outside, whether he rode in a car to get to his current location and other information that could help you.

You’ll find many more search tips on these pages.

I was devastated and disappointed after a full night of hiking through the woods in the freezing cold and snow seeking for my pet cat. So, if your cat has gone missing, I understand your anguish. But don’t give up hope. Your cat is probably out there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.

Oh, and even if your cats only reside inside, they should be microchipped and wear collars with tags (please remove those annoying little bells). Although microchips are not without criticism, most shelters and veterinarians scan “stray” animals to check whether they are chipped. If your cat becomes missing and is picked up by Animal Control, that chip will serve as his return ticket.

My cats go out, and their tags indicate that they are microchipped as an added precaution.

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