General Cat Care and Tips

Help! My Cat is Lost What do I do?

The worst has happened, your cat is lost and you don’t know what to do. When I moved into a new apartment and was still opening boxes and putting things away. I went out to my car to get something, came back in, and a couple of hours later I notice my sweet cat was missing.

I searched through as much as I could inside and still could not find him. His sister was following me around meowing at me like crazy. That was my first clue he was not in the apartment, my second is him not coming to his treats. He’s a pretty affectionate cat and likes to be out where you can see him most of the time. After about an hour, I have a small place, I knew he was gone, I had a lost cat.

The first thing I did when I realized my cat was lost, was walk around to see if I could find him, I had no luck, then I checked the office, nothing there, I wanted to print flyers, but I had no internet and couldn’t find my printer plug.

Yep I was a mess. I went onto my phone and started searching. I knew indoor cats wouldn’t go far unless forced to and normally they come back because they know where home is, but I just moved. How would he know!

I planned on putting food out if he wasn’t back by nightfall, He wasn’t but during my online search, I learned a few other ways to make him come home. Using the following I was able to get my cat back after just two days.

cat is lost

12 Things To Do When Your Cat Is Lost

Search yourself for your pet

Search as soon as you know your pet is lost, if you’re not sure if they got outside search inside first. Use treats to help cox them out of any hiding space. Call their name and search in any known area they like to sleep

If you still don’t find them inside head outside with that same bag of treats, and a picture of your cat. Walk around your home and a bit farther out calling your cats name.

While you are out make sure to talk to everyone you see. They may have seen your cat and can let you know where it may be headed. They may also be able to help by sharing your photo with others or telling other people you are searching for a lost cat.

Get friends and family involved

Get friends, family, or neighbors to help search, Have some search inside and some outside even if you have already searched. Having someone else out there with you or just another body is helpful. They can search in more areas with you and you can all cover more ground.

My cat got out a second time. He was gone for a few hours and I was devastated. It had already been a horrible day and this did not help me. He ended up coming back when my friends came over to help look. He’s a friendly cat and was excited to see them. So much that he came out of his hiding spot outside to greet them.

You may not find your cat right away, don’t give up

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your cat right away when indoor cats get out they hide and usually don’t come out until nightfall. Mine cat came back at about 11 pm the first time he got out. It was also 2 days later, but he was back and he was safe.

Many cats can be gone for a week or more before they come back. My niece had a kitten that was missing for two months, he came back but a couple of months later took off again. They ended up moving while he was gone so they were not able to find him. However, someone thinks a neighbor took him in and has made him their pet.

Food and water may be your best friend

Put food and water out for them if they have been gone for a few hours. Make sure you are able to watch the food however as it could actually create a trap for your pet and that is something you really don’t want. If you can’t keep an eye on it don’t put it out.

You also want to put out food that is smelly, so if you just use dry food you may have to come up with something else. You can use warmed up tuna or another type of smelly fish. You can also warm up canned cat food to help entice your cat back home.

Leave out a worn shirt

After walking around put your shirt outside, it has your scent and the cat will be drawn to it. This may seem crazy, but they do know you buy how you smell and they will catch your scent from a good distance away.

Cats have over 19 million scent receptors and since they use scent to know what is safe or not, leaving something with your scent out will make them think safe and bring them home.

Report your pet lost

Put up posters all around your neighborhood and report your pet lost online. There are many websites where you can report your lost pet. Many will inform shelters for you as well. Most are no cost to you, so start with those first.

Sites where you can report your pet lost

You can also join local Facebook groups where people in your area will share that your pet is lost and hopefully bring them home safe. I myself am a member of two local groups and though they didn’t help me with my cat. I have seen many pets reunited with their owners over the last few years.

Check Shelters

Even if your cat has only been missing for a short amount of time you do want to start calling shelters as soon as possable. If you don’t have help searching for your cat, do your first search around your area, then start making the phone calls.

If you do have help, have someone else make those calls for you so you can search. It is important to make these calls quickly as this could save time and energy if your cat has already been picked up.

You will also need to call every day your cat is missing. At least for the first week. After that, you can call every few days or see if they will call you when a cat that looks like yours is brought in.

my cat is lost

Hold your conversations outside when possible

This may seems strange, but if you are outside and talking your cat will hear you and may come to the sound of your voice. If your having a normal conversation this is more likley as cats sence when you are upset and may hide thinking you are mad at them.

Try to have over the phone conversations as much as possable as your cat may think you are talking to them. This is also good for cats that are not social cats and only love you, because you feed them.

If your cat is social and loves other people, like my Pumpkin does then having others there could also be helpful. They may come out just to say hi to the other person and that is when you can catch them and bring them safely back inside.

Keep your Voice Calm when searching

Your cat knows when you are stressed, sad, or angry. Your voice and your scent changes. They pick up on that and may stay hidden. Keeping yourself calm while you search for your cat is the best way to find them.

If you find yourself getting worked up try this tips.

  • Deep breath for one minute
  • Close your eyes and count down from 10
  • Allow someone else to take over your search
  • Take a half-hour break

Head out at night to search

Go out later at night with a flashlight to find your cat, they don’t usually come out during the day because they are scared. As you walk shine the flashlight everywhere, in bushes, under cars, and into any area your cat could be hiding. At the same time call its name so that it knows you are there. Keep an eye out for your cat’s eyes. They will shine in the light, remember however that other animals’ eyes will do this as well.

Your cat may smell you, but they may also be too scared to come out of where they are, make sure you don’t move too fast so that your cat can build up the courage to come out and see you.

If you can get someone or a few people out to look at night with you that is better, you can cover more ground and have saftey in numbers. You don’t want to have something happen to you while you are looking for your lost cat.

Keep a garage door or outside door cracked if possible.

Keeping a garage door or outside door open will allow your cat to just come home when it’s ready. There have been many cases where people have done this and found their cat sitting in the garage or if they left a house door open waking them up in the middle of the night. Most cats will come home at night, so be sure to sleep where you can hear them.

Not everyone can do this of course and I don’t recommend you do this unless you live in a safe area.

Don’t forget to talk to your neighbors

You need to go knock on doors in your area to see if anyone has seen your cat. You would be surprised at how many times your lost cat was taken in by a neighboor who had no idea the cat had a home.

My younger sister actually started feeding and took in a cat she thought was a stray, eventually, she found out that it was not, it was her neighbors indoor/outdoor cat. It now comes to visit her often and will even spend the night.

Be patient, 85-90% of cats come home.

For me putting food out and putting clothing with my scent helped keep my cat in the area and bring him home. It was a long couple of days but I was so happy when he ran past me as I was unlocking the door after a search. In fact, I was a bit shocked, it took me a second to realize that orange flash was my Pumpkin.

What not to do when your cat is lost

  • Leave out a litter box- this draws predators that could attack your cat
  • Leave out food unwatched – this also draws preditors
  • Give up too early, Most cats do come back, keep looking even after a week.

Look into microchipping your cat

If you are really worried about your cat or your cat gets out often you may want to look into microchipping your cat. It’s a simple process that implants a chip that can be scanned by a vet into your cat’s neck. This chip has your contact information in it so you can be contacted if your pet is found.

This is great if you have a cat that is always getting out and could help you find your cat if they don’t come back.

These tips should help you bring your cat home quickly, unfortunately, there are times where your cat will not come home. The longer they are lost the more likely it is that they are gone for good. However, there have been cases where cats have come home after a few years. So there always is still hope. I wish you the best in the search for your lost cat.

Do you love cats as much as I do? Follow Pumpkin and Dixie on Instagram