Finding a Lost Cat

by Michael
(London, UK)

Photo by JudeanPeoplesFront (Flickr)

Photo by JudeanPeoplesFront (Flickr)

I'll be honest, I have never been involved in finding a lost cat, except once when my cat was run over one fateful day about 17 years ago. The whole day is still crystal clear in my memory. It was my fault, bottom line. My first thought was that she might have been hurt on the road. So my first search was over the road in and around a field. I eventually found her. Injured cats find quiet places.

One of the main things that can happen to cats that are lost is that they can get involved in an accident as described. Another way to lose a cat is when they get locked in sheds or outbuildings.

I always feel that perhaps the most common way to lose a cat other than road accidents is when the cat moves home! Cats do the talking with their feet. They mooch into someones garden and like it. It becomes part of their territory. Then they creep into the person's home because they like the smell of the food. And before you know where you are they have a new home. These are probably the three ways to lose a cat.

If that is true, finding a lost cat should be built around that premise.

The advice in finding a lost cat is to:

Publicize it a widely as possible speaking to people in the street.

Animal Search UK recommend speaking to the postman as he or she goes to a lot of homes nearby. In that vein, they suggest going a stage further by visiting your local post sorting office and asking. Between them "the postal staff will cover every street in your district".

Other tricks of the trade are to use the cat's superior senses to advantage. Cats have a great sense of smell. Animal Search UK recommend putting something outside the house that smells of the cat's caretaker/owner such as an unwashed jumper. They even suggest adding some perfume and aftershave if you use them. The smell is stronger and is recognizable to a cat as being part of you.

In addition there is the cat's sense of hearing and familiarity with the cat caretaker's voice. If other people agree to help they can be given a recording of the owner's voice, which can be played back close to sheds and outbuildings etc. where the cat might be trapped. Cats respond to the voice of their human companion, if the relationship is a good one.

Apparently when it comes to enquiring about finding a lost cat, neighbours and people in general are inclined to be helpful so we should not be too retiring in asking.

I haven't mentioned posters. The classic method that I see is placing posters on trees on the street. Yes, a decent idea as part of a whole but I favor knocking on doors, harder though it is, as it is more active and direct. Posters on trees is a little passive.

Update: I made a page on Lost Cat Posters! These are template posters with a bit of zing and professionalism - I hope.

And there is no doubt that two human qualities might be required in finding a lost cat: patience and persistence. These qualities combined with the above tricks and tips should prove successful. This is Animal Search UK's video expanding on these points:

Of course, rather than finding a lost cat, Americans will possibly say, "take preventative steps and keep the cat permanently indoors". I have to agree in principle purely on the basis of safety because the above problems only befall indoor/outdoor cats. Depending on the circumstances there can be considerable risks in letting a cat go out regularly, unsupervised. Personally, my preference is a decent sized enclosure as a nice compromise.

My thanks to Animal Search UK, who you might like to ask for help.

If anyone has better ideas I would love to hear them.

Michael Avatar

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Finding a Lost Cat

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Nov 18, 2010
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My lost cat story
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

When I was a child my ever frugal parents decided not to neuter our male cat because there wouldn't be any kittens (at least none we'd have to worry about). The assumption was that all owners of female cats would spay them to avoid kittens so with males you didn't need to do anything. Except that our cat became obsessed with two things only-- mating and fighting. Practically feral to begin with, having been a cat from Grandma's farm, he reverted to being almost totally wild. One day he just never came back. We did the knocking on doors and putting up posters but to no avail. Not too long after this my sister and I spotted a cat in the ravine who looked a lot like our lost cat, presumed dead by that time. We were amazed at this and decided it was a miracle and his spirit had returned in the form of this cat. We were that young that we really didn't know that the male had any direct link to reproduction. Females had babies and males did-- well, we didn't know what. That cat's name was Lucky, which is kind of funny if you think about it.
But sadly, still today I see feral cats living in the ravine who look like that lost cat. His back legs were longer than his front legs-- a very distinctive trait. So we contributed to the feral cat problem.


Oct 11, 2010
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Joyce Sammons leave my cat alone
by: pootsmum

Joyce Sammons!

It is people like you who encourage other peoples cats to disappear. My cat went missing only to be found a week later at an old lady's house. She had removed his collar, changed his name and was fully prepared to keep him knowing that he wasn't hers.

Leave other peoples cats alone!


Sep 29, 2010
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Good stuff
by: Leah

Good useful stuff. It worked for me some years ago when I lost my cat. I went knocking on doors and posting my posters through letterboxes. Unfortunately my cat had been run over and the RSPCA (who I spoke to later) had collected his dead body. Not a happy ending I know but its better that we know because then we can stop looking and grieve. (He was very special and I still miss him)

Its very true about the microchip though. I homed an 8 year old house cat for some people we knew after they had twins. I filled out the forms for the new owners for her microchip and when they took her to the vets there was no chip even though I had the original paperwork! I don't know what had happened to it so please don't think once you have your cat chipped thats it, get your vet to scan and check its still there once a year at least!


Sep 26, 2010
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My cat lady days
by: Joyce Sammons

Your story about cats moving homes brought to mind the way I use to call my cats to dinner. I'd go out in the yard with a box of cat food and yell HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY at the top of my lungs. I don't know how many were strays or ferals or neighborhood cats. When it was dinnertime I called them all while shaking the box. I had neighbors who would miss their cat and come over at my cat calling time just to see if their cat showed up. One neighbor even asked me to stop feeding the strays. Her cat liked my food better. And it was the cheapest food I could get since I fed about a dozen at any given time. Not counting kittens. I didn't listen. Any hungry cat was welcome at my place. Some of them just didn't want to leave.


Sep 26, 2010
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Forgot
by: Michael

I forgot to add that there is page on PoC about microchipping cats.

Michael Avatar


Sep 26, 2010
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Very Useful
by: Michael

Thanks Ruth for adding some really useful additional information that completes the page. Much appreciated.

Michael Avatar


Sep 26, 2010
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Lost cat
by: Ruth

Having done Lost and Found for Cats Protection for a number of years we found that most cats eventually return home themselves and you never know where they've been.
All those suggestions by Michael are correct, but I'd add phoning all the local Vets and Rescue Centres to leave details of the cat incase someone has taken him there as a stray.
Most cats here in the UK are microchipped and the cats caretaker traced that way but it's not 100% as sometimes a chip has slipped and someone scanning in a hurry will miss it.
Another thing we always suggested was putting the cat's litter tray outside the door so if he isn't far away he can follow his own scent home.
Most neutered cats are not far away, the chances are that the cat has had a fright and holed up,cats can get in the tiniest places you'd never think of looking.So it's important to look thorougly all around the garden and surrounding neighbourhood.
One last thing, ask the children who live nearby, if they are out playing and spot your cat they'd love to be the one to bring you the news.It's important to tell them not to attempt to touch the cat but to tell the person who he belongs to.
Offering a small reward is a good incentive too for both adults and children to help you find the cat.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth



Comments

Finding a Lost Cat — 1 Comment

  1. We had an emergency situation with our gravely Ill daughter and had to move from Az to Mn, the day of the move March 1 , 2011 our seventeen year old cat Cupcakes ran out, we couldn’t wait since our daughter was being transported by helicopter, I’ve flown back twice looking for, but can no longer afford to be away from our daughter. Cupcakes is a gray tabby with the most intense green eyes white marking on her paws she had a red collar on her at the time. If someone has her I just want to know she’s happy, if you are looking to get her back to her owner I Would love that too, have had nothing but haunting dreams since we had to leave her behind, please if any one has any info, pls post to this website. No horror stories pls, I have enough depression just trying to keep my daughter alive. Thank you anyone with real info.

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