People ask if cats can get lost in snow or the dark or in the rain or woods. They hardly ever get lost under these conditions but they can get lost in storms.
I guess it has to be a strong storm though. The storms we have in the UK are never strong enough to cause an outdoor cat to get lost.
However, in America the storms can be strong enough to cause lots of cats to become confused and lost. This is exactly what happened in the city of Martinez in the San Francisco area of California.
Animal shelter staff in Contra Costa County found themselves dealing with an influx of lost pets including of course cats on Monday and Tuesday last week when a storm hit the area blowing down fences et cetera.
Forty-one animals were brought to the Contra Cosa County Animal Services shelter on Tuesday. None of them were microchipped. The shelter can house more than 400 animals. A huge place and it is near capacity.
There are two interesting points. Firstly how and why do cats and other pets become lost in a storm? I find it a bit strange. I can’t answer for dogs but the answer must be that outdoor cats become confused because the area they know visually and through scent markers becomes alien to them as the markers are washed and blown away. They become disoriented and eventually lost. Cats will also become anxious and frightened. This is likely to contribute to becoming lost.
The second interesting point is that a good percentage of cat owners are (a) not microchipping their cats and (b) are letting them go outside in a storm. This is a combination of factors which can lead to losing their cat permanently.
Fortunately for others these are opportunities to adopt great cat companions. The shelter has had great success in attracting interest in people wishing to adopt.
With other storms likely the shelter is putting out a call to the community to come down and adopt as they are near capacity at present as mentioned. They have what they call a good “release rate” meaning rehoming as opposed to euthanasia and they want to keep it that way.
Three-quarters (75%) of animals were rehomed in 2015 compared to 46 per cent in 2011. The moral is obvious: keep cats inside in storms and ensure that they are identifiable either through microchipping or a tattoo marker. Collars can also be acceptable if they are the quick release type.