Tips and advice to help find a lost cat
Start looking early
Start close by
The first time Freddie went missing was for five days and we searched everywhere, near and far. It wasn't until our neighbor told us he had seen Freddie in our garden on day four that we concentrated our search nearby. We put out some salmon for him in the garden at 11pm at night on day five and spent about an hour calling for him. When we went back inside our house, he creeped out to eat the fish about five minutes later. I couldn't believe it. He had been hiding just by our house. When we took him to our vet, he noticed Freddie had a bite mark on his leg and said he had probably been in a fight with another cat. My theory is the fight scared him so much he went into survival mode and into hiding where he felt safe. He only ventured out when it was dark and he was hungry enough.
If you think your cat is hiding nearby a good tip is to put out some strong smelling fish when it gets dark. Do it at the same time every night. Then try and keep watch from a distance to see if your cat will venture out to eat it. When he is hungry enough he will venture out when he feels safe which is normally under the cover of night.
Also talk to your neighbors and ask them if they've seen your cat. Local children are also good to ask as they often notice animals and will often help you with your search.
Think like your cat
For example, research has shown that indoor cats that have escaped are very likely to be hiding near your house. They have panicked and gone into survival mode, so are probably hiding within a three house radius. They are too scared to move and will probably not respond to your calls. They are hiding in silence so as not to attract any predators, they are following their survival instinct.
In fact when any cat is hurt or scared they are very likely to go into hiding and not respond to your calls. You have to remember that the cat doesn't think like a human. Even though they may recognise your voice, they may not respond to it because their ancestor instincts tell them its safer to remain quiet so as not to attract any attention.
There are lots of other factors that may influence what has happened to your cat.
Think about factors such as : Does your cat wander far? Some cats do wander a lot futher than others and may have simply got lost? Could something have scared him/her? Could they have been feeling sick? Are they a curious cat? Could they have ventured into nextdoor's shed? Would they have jumped into a car/van? Have you recently moved? Could they have gone back to your old property? Is your cat neutered? Cats which aren't neutered will often wander a lot further in search of a mate. Answers to these and other questions could help give clues about what may have happened to your cat and help you with your search.
The subsequent times Freddie went missing he had left his territory and one time was found a few streets away and the next time was even futher away. Some cats seem to have a natural instinct to return to their homes but I don't think Freddie was one of them. He just got hopelessly lost. We have learned that Freddie only goes missing if he is let out after dark. I think this is because it is darker, quieter and he feels safer exploring at this time. We have a cat flap and both times he went missing, he went out at about 11pm at night and never came back. Now, we close the cat flap when it gets dark and he is no longer let out a night. He hasn't been missing since. He never wanders far in the day. Your cat may be like Freddie and goes wandering. Did your cat go missing at night? Could he have got lost? Or his personality may be totally different which suggests a different scenario.
Don't give up
Cat owners often give up looking for their cats due to what is known as grief avoidance. They can't bear to think that their cat is out there hungry and on their own so they conclude that he is dead and try to move on. Try not to think like this. Remember your cat doesn't think like a human, they aren't thinking I miss home and having emotional feelings. It is likely that they are just trying to survive and are probably doing a good job of it.
The second time Freddie was missing for 14 days. He was handed into a cat shelter and when he came back home it was obvious that nobody had fed him. He just ate and ate. I'm sure he managed to find titbits to keep him going but he got by. Cats have been known to be returned to their owners after weeks, months and years so don't give up looking. And remember if your cat has wandered and got lost he is more than likely doing a good job of getting by.
Put up posters
This link below takes you to a missing pet poster creator which can help you make a poster quickly and easily containing all the information you should include
Of course bad things do happen and it is possible your cat may have died or been taken but it is most likely they are lost, hiding or trapped so think as positively as possible, keep looking and try not to give up hope.
Some people do feed cats they think may be stray or lost and if this happens your cat will probably hang around where he/she is getting fed instead of trying to get home. Families and children do adopt cats they think are stray. Although this may not be a favoured outcome for you this kind of scenario is just as likely (probably more likely) as all the horrible things you imagine happening to your cat.
Call for your cat
Baby Monitors and Missing Cats
"A concerned neighbour (who seen my flyer) contacted me and suggested using baby monitors. I had been worried sick that I would miss him if/when he showed up and this was such a simple solution - I loved the idea, so I set a monitor out on the porch with a bowl of his food and a bowl of tuna and sure enough within a couple of days I heard a faint mewing when he came back in the middle of the night. (3am) He was smelly, hungry and had lost a bit of weight, but he's home now and is really, really happy."
Thoughts to keep your spirits up....
Cats are blessed with incredible instincts to survive and it has been known for cats to return months, even years after they first went missing.
Most people are generally nice and there is quite often somebody who will look out for a cat who they think is stray. Many people will respond to posters and are often willing to help so this can only help in your search.
Many cats do come back on their own too. My neighbor's cat just went missing for two weeks. They'd looked everywhere. He just turned up one morning outside their house and was warm and well fed. Must have been somebody close by looking after him. We're not sure why he came back, but he's been hanging around ever since.
Another thing you can do is set up a facebook page for your missing cat. This can contain detailed information including photos, more information about their personality, the noises they make and their habits. You could advertise the page on your missing cat posters so people can comment on your page and add any information they may have. They can also like your page and put a link to it in their status so friends and family who live near them may hear the news too. Making a facebook page is as easy as making a facebook profile page for a person. You can start here.
Some people have set up missing pet pages for the area that they live in. This could be really helpful. If people in the area that you live like the page on facebook, it can get sent to lots of people living in your area. This article gives an idea of how a facebook page for missing pets can help reunite missing cats with their owners
Have you ever lost and found a cat?
Please add any tips or advice for finding a lost cat. I really appreciate any feedback and will update my article to include any good websites/tips/advice to hopefully help other people find their missing cats. Thanks so much in advance.