Strategies for Finding a Lost Cat

Last week, our family experienced the number one thing a pet parent never wants to go through. Our inside-only cat got out of a door left open and disappeared. This was the first time he had ever gotten out and we were worried sick. The worst part was, I had absolutely no idea what to do or how to even begin to find him. Thankfully, we are blessed with many wonderful people in our lives who shared some tips and strategies that helped us finally get him home after three long days (and almost four nights!). I pray you never lose your fur baby, but should you ever find yourself in that situation, here are the things that helped us get our boy home safe and sound!

1. Search your yard and nearby yards thoroughly.

Cats tend not to stray far from home. Chances are, your fur babe has found somewhere safe and quiet to hunker down. Check under porches and bushes. It's not a bad idea to carry food or treats with you, shaking the food and calling your pets name. Be sure not to yell (although it is tempting) as that may frighten your cat. Walk softly and call your pet as you normally would if you were home.

2. Put familiar scents outside.

We placed shirts belonging to my husband (Beamer's "person") as well as my cat's litterbox outside in the hopes that familiar scents would attract him and keep him close to home. 

3. Rent or purchase a humane cat trap.

We were lucky enough that our vet had a trap for us to borrow but many animal shelters and humane societies have traps that you can rent for not too much or buy. Put the trap somewhere you think your cat may be hiding. We put a shirt over the top of the trap and we placed Beamer's food bowl inside the trap. Trapping isn't my favorite option (and it didn't work for my smart kitty) but as long as it is a safe trap that won't harm your cat, it may be your best chance of catching your cat!

4. Spread the word.

Call around to local animal shelters and humane societies. Let them know your pet is missing and share photos if you can. Call your vet to check if your pet has been microchipped (we couldn't remember!). Share posts on neighborhood social media pages and apps like NextDoor. Go door to door and speak to neighbors or post flyers. Most pets are found by owners who have their boots on the ground and are out spreading the word to others who may be able to help in the search. 

5. Limit food and water options.

We made this mistake at first. We had food bowls stationed at each entrance to our home, mostly because we had no idea where our Beamer was and which direction he might come from. We caught him on our front door camera the second night of his adventure snacking on the food at the front door and at the garage. Once finished, he left again. The third night, the only food available was in the cat trap. You better believe my chunky boy kept coming back to check if there was any other food, though... If the only food and water available is in the trap, eventually, your cat may venture into the trap. 

6. Be patient (and if you see him, DO NOT CHASE!)

I know this is hard. It is most likely that your cat friend will not come out during the day when your neighborhood is active. We sat on our front porch each night after dark and waited quietly for Beamer to come around. We laid eyes on him each night but it wasn't until the fourth night that we were able to use a combination of our front door camera, a camera set up in the garage, and a well-timed garage door close to finally catch our little stinker and bring him home where he belongs. Don't lose hope and practice lots of patience. Cats are smart creatures and chances are good they will come home on their own in their own time!

Have you ever lost a pet? Do you have any helpful tips for recovering a lost pet? Share any tips you have with us in the comments or on our MBP socials!

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