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Lost Cat Search: 12 Things You May Forget to Do

Jennifer Gilbert
June 8, 2017

Here are some tips for safely finding your missing kitty.

If you have a lost cat, chances are you're feeling a little lost yourself. Your kitty moves quickly, and there are endless places she could be hiding. You've tried calling her name and tapping a fork on the cat food can, but you can't think of what else to do to bring her home. Rest assured, your missing cat is probably nearby.

"Cats are not like dogs -- they don't run when they get outdoors. Instead they hide and then only come out of their hiding place between dusk and dawn to look for food," Kitty Zimmer, the co-founder of the Zimmer Feline Foundation, says. "We've had many people tell us that by looking closer to home, they have found their missing cat."

Resist the urge to just leave cat food out for your missing cat. "The smell of cat food can attract other cats, dogs, raccoons and even coyotes. Then your cat is really in trouble," says Kim Freeman, the owner of Lost Cat Finder (she's an actual pet detective!) and the author of How to Find a Lost Cat. "You need to use hunger to lure your cat back home or into a trap," she says.

It's recommended that owners search into the evening and nighttime hours. "Cats typically return between dusk and dawn, but people don't realize it because they go to bed," says Char Riedinger, the owner of Sit4Pet, a pet sitting company, and the administrator of the Pet FBI Facebook page.

Here are some additional tips you can use to locate your missing kitty:

  1. Set a (Safe) Trap
    Get a humane trap from your local animal shelter. You could lure your cat into the trap with enticing food (not ordinary cat food), such as tuna fish or a favorite toy. But bear in mind the food may attract animals other than your cat.
  2. Call Your Neighbors
    Alert neighbors that your cat is missing and ask them to open their garages and sheds, suggests Freeman. It's possible your kitty wants to return home, but she may be trapped somewhere.
  3. Use Calm Tones
    Speak softly when calling your cat, advises Riedinger. Use a normal tone of voice, as if speaking on the phone. A frantic cry might scare off your cat, even if she recognizes your voice, she explains.
  4. Spread the Word
    Ask people who are typically outside in your neighborhood during the day -- joggers, postal carriers or dog walkers -- suggests Zimmer. Give them a detailed description along with a phone number in case your cat is spotted.
  5. Entice People
    Offer a modest reward, suggests Zimmer. A small token of appreciation is enough to entice kids to join the search, she states.
  6. Walk Through the Garden
    Look behind outdoor plants to find your lost cat, says Zimmer. You might not be able to see your kitty hiding in your flower garden, but it's possible she can see you.
  7. Position a Listening Device
    Set a baby monitor near a sun porch, open window or the door your kitty typically exits, suggests Riedinger. This way, you can listen for your cat if you're doing chores around the house.
  8. Create a Stakeout
    Riedinger suggests camping out on the ground floor of your residence. This will help you hear your cat scratch or meow in the night.
  9. Search Above
    Look up on top of houses and up in trees. Even cats that don't normally climb trees may decide to be adventurous and then get stuck. Or maybe a large dog scared your kitty into a tree and she's too afraid to climb down.
  10. Get Officials Involved
    Call your local animal control officer and ask him or her to be on the lookout for your cat. Give the officer a description of your cat, including color, weight and eye color. The officer can place it on their website's list of missing cats.
  11. Look in Every Corner
    Check out construction sites in the neighborhood, like a new basement or chimney, as Zimmer suggests. The kitty might be trapped and can't get out.
  12. Enlist the Vet
    Talk to veterinarians in your area and inform them your cat is missing. Place a picture of your cat in their office so local pet owners can keep an eye out for your missing kitty.

Jennifer Gilbert is a freelance pet writer, mother-of-two beautiful children and pet owner to a rambunctious Papillon named Kallie.

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