Categories: lost cat

Where to find a lost cat?

Your cat is lost. Perhaps he is an indoor cat and he escaped or an indoor/outdoor cat and he did not come back home. Where is he likely to be?

Photo: Pinterest

There are some likely places.

Returned home

If you have moved to a new home which is quite near to your former home (say up to a few miles) it is possible that he has returned to his former home range. The mantra that we all know is that you should keep your cat inside the home for a month or so when you move to make sure he is settled. However, personal experience tells me that even many months or a year later a domestic cat might try and return home. He’ll take the road and sidewalks to get there. We don’t know how cats navigate but it is probably based on knowing north, south, east and west combined with a visual awareness of major markers such as buildings and roads.

The point is that it may be wise to search around your former home where he used to roam. A former neighbour of yours may have seen him not realising that you have moved. Ask around and put down his favourite food plus call his name. You may get lucky.

Indoor cats

When indoor cats escape they usually stay pretty close to their home. This is probably due to being nervous and timid because they have not experienced the noise and distractions of outdoor life. Being thrust into a hostile environment full of noise and danger they are likely to hide close by. I’d search nearby and ask questions. How near? Perhaps under a neighbour’s hedge. The lost indoor cat may not respond to your call out of fear.

Sometimes indoor cats get lost inside the home. It sounds impossible but it’s true. At the time I was living in an apartment and fostering a tabby kitten (I adopted him) and I lost him. I swore to myself that he had escaped but couldn’t figure out how. I became distraught because I loved the little fella so I searched high and low inside the apartment and resorted to doing the same outside while in disbelief that he had escaped. Then the light bulb went on. I have a storage style bed. The bed hinges up to provide a large storage area underneath. I suddenly realised he has crawled between the slats into this safe and quiet space. He still likes to do this.

Outdoor cats

Once again when outdoor cats go missing they are normally not that far from home. How far? Perhaps a maximum of 3 blocks away but this is far from a fixed rule. That said 3 blocks can mean 2 square miles which is a large area.

He may have been hit by a vehicle. In which case he’ll possibly be by the side of the road under a bush either injured or dead. He might have been hit by a vehicle and the driver stopped to take him to a veterinarian although in the UK there is no legal obligation to do this.

He may be inside someone’s home enjoying himself. Once again I don’t think he’ll be far from home. My girlfriend’s neighbour lost both her tabby cats, one to illness but the other was found inside a water butt. He had become trapped and drowned I believe. He was no more than 200 yards from home. As they say “curiosity killed the cat”.

In the UK we don’t have feral or stray cat colonies. I never see them. But in the US a lost cat may end up in a nearby colony.

Confident cats

Confident cats who get lost are more likely to travel further afield and approach strangers. He may become disorientated. These cats are more likely to find a new home as a stranger may regard the cat as abandoned. I remember a wandering who came into my apartment. He was a large grey boy. He was domesticated and owned. He’d travel about two miles from his home routinely down a very busy London road and via surrounding busy areas. It felt like a miracle that he survived. Perhaps he didn’t.

Timid cats

Shy cats tend to hide. They may stay hidden for long periods. I’d have thought that they would not be too far from home perhaps up to 400 yards. The problem is finding them because hidden cats are hard to find. They may feed poorly and become ill due to dehydration and starvation. They need to be found quickly.

Your stories

I have provided an outline or where a lot cat might end up. If you have a personal experience which can add to these possibilities please comment. Thanks in advance.

Some associated pages on ‘lost cat’

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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