What To Do If Your Cat Goes Missing? Search Tips & Resources That You Might Need 2021

I’m writing with such joy tonight. After three days, my lost cat is home! He went out Tuesday morning and vanished. There were no signs of him anywhere. I walked our parking lots and the woods at all hours of the day and night, put up fliers, filed a “lost” report with animal control, posted him in the Pets and Lost and Found sections on Craig’s List and on the local lost pets pages on Facebook. I got lots of advice on finding lost cats, but no one had seen my cat.

He always meows his squeaky, quirky meow when I call him. So this afternoon, I was searching in the woods yet again when I heard that he was meowing. The poor little guy was in the snow under a bush at the edge of the woods.

He’s home now, sleeping on his favorite chair in my office. Every few minutes I look around to reassure myself that he’s really there.

He is an experienced indoor/outdoor cat, so it was even more frightening when he disappeared. But losing a cat is terrifying and heartbreaking, no matter what the cat’s lifestyle is. There are many websites that tell you how to find lost animals, and I’m going to link to a couple of them here. But first, I want to share a few of my own tips based on 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.

After an entire night of wandering through the woods in the freezing cold and snow looking for my beloved cat, I was heartbroken and discouraged. So if your cat is missing, I understand your overwhelming grief. But don’t give up. Chances are, your cat is out there just waiting to be found.

Oh, one more thing: Even if your cats live strictly indoors, they really should be microchipped and wear collars with tags (please remove those annoying little bells). Although microchips aren’t without controversy, most shelters and vets scan “strays” to see if they’re chipped. If your cat gets lost and is picked up by Animal Control, that chip will be his ticket home.

My cats go out, and as an extra safety precaution, their tags say they’re microchipped.

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