How to Search for Your Lost Cat

Sometimes, despite the best of plans, our cat does a vanishing act or makes a mad dash out the door. It helps to prepare your cat just in case, and to know what to do ahead of time so the search will move faster.

Ways You Can Safeguard

  • Microchip – Vital in case she loses her collar. Verifies you as her pet parent.
  • Rabies tag – To keep her from automatically being sent to animal control.
  • ID Tag – Include her name, your phone number, ‘Indoor Cat’ and any chronic medical condition such as ‘Diabetic’ that would need immediate care.
  • Collar – Breakaway style, with a bell, so you can listen out for her. There are collars that glow in the dark or have LED lights, but these can attract other animals at night. Her chances of survival are better without glowing.
  • Tracking Device – Collar or tag style, uses Bluetooth or GPS. There are several types and services to choose from.

Sometimes kitty has not wandered off, but found her way into the attic, the basement, a crawl space, or somewhere else where she is inconveniently trapped. One of these tracking devices could save a lot of heartache by locating her quickly. 

Ways You Can Search 

First, are you sure she’s gotten out? Start the outdoor search immediately. If you just haven’t seen her for a while, split up the family to look indoors and outside simultaneously. Indoors, GPS helps right away if she’s being reclusive. If she doesn’t have a tracker, shake her treats container or open a can of her cat food, calling her name. Listen for meows or the tinkle of her bell.

Look up. She may be stuck in a tree or hiding somewhere high because she is afraid. 

Contact Neighbors. Cats typically don’t go far, usually next door or to whomever feeds cats nearby, perhaps into the next neighborhood, rarely ever more than a couple of miles away. As soon as you realize she is missing, and you can’t find her, say, under a bush or car or outdoor furniture in your yard, contact your neighbors or anyone who is outside. Also ask them if they will check their Ring cameras in case she comes by.

Post signs in the area, with a photo if possible, or mention something obvious about her: “Lost cat. White left front paw. Call…” Put a date on your sign, so people know the need is immediate.

Keep your phone with you to immediately take calls from a finder. 

Listen outdoors. If she doesn’t have a tracker, again, call for her and shake a bag of her favorite treats to see if she comes running. Open a can of cat food, for example. Familiar sounds may get her attention.

Use smells. Cats have an extraordinary sense of smell. Unless there is a storm, they will be able to smell their own trail back to the house. Put out some of her food and your shoes or other ‘smelly’ clothing, or her litter box, by the doorstep so she can find home more easily. Cook bacon or burgers on a grill or with windows open, to attract her by scent. Cats can smell food about 150 feet away, from across the street, or two doors down. Cooking sends the aroma wafting on breezes to cover a larger area.

Leave an outside light on at night to help guide her back home.

Widen the Search If Necessary

Contact Local vets and shelters. Ask if anyone has come in with a cat that looks like yours. Check local shelters, Petfinder and pet adoptions online.

Notify social media. Send lost kitty messages with photos to neighbors in the general area through facebook, etc., or neighborhood websites. 

When All Else Fails

Be patient. Yes, that’s impossible. Be patient as well as you can, calling her back to you with hope. Once you have tried everything else, just sit outside as much as you can. Cats sometimes come back when they’re ready. If she sees or smells you, she may come.  

The very best thing you can do to protect your sweet kitty is to make sure she’s microchipped, and wearing all up-to-date tags. They will not be a hindrance to her way of life, and will speak volumes for her if she becomes separated from you.   

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.