How To Find A Lost Cat

lost cat in a tree
(Last Updated On: June 24, 2020)

As a cat owner, you know it’s not uncommon for your cat to just wander off. Sometimes they’ll find their way back on their own, but when they don’t, it can become worrisome. Especially if your cat finds themselves in a stressful situation, they might not respond to your calls.

Your first instinct might be to panic, but the best thing to do is stay calm and clear headed. There are plenty of things that you can do to get your furry friend back home safely. Follow these simple tips the next time your cat runs off.

Effective Ways to Find Your Cat

Cats are very intelligent and curious creatures that love to explore and find new hiding spots. It’s a good idea to have a plan of attack when you begin your search. Here are some simple ways to make finding them much easier.

Begin the search as soon as possible

The sooner you begin looking for them once you’ve realized they’re gone, the better chance you have of finding them before they get too far away. As time passes, it’s likely that they’ll just wander even further from home.

Keep in mind that if you recently relocated, it’s common for cats to want to return to their old home. Go check around your old place if you can, or call friends or neighbors in the area to check for you.

Search at Night

If your cat is nervous, they’ll likely be staying hidden during the day when there’s a lot of commotion around. Wait for everyone to settle in for the night and try looking for them. They will be more inclined to come out of hiding when everything is calmer and quiet.

Take a flashlight with you and a can of food and try calling for your cat in a calm, speaking voice. At night it will be easier for them to hear you and a calm demeanor will not scare them away.

Listen for Them

Don’t just keep calling for them the entire time. Stop and listen for any meowing or scratching. It’s possible they could be trapped somewhere and might need help getting out. This is another benefit of searching at night because you’ll have a better chance of hearing them.

Lure Them Out with Food

Eventually, your cat will begin looking for water. Set out their food and water dishes where they can easily find them. The smellier the food is, the more likely they’ll be to catch the scent from far away, so wet food works best for this method.

You can check the food regularly to see if they’re out there or even set up a humane trap. If you need to, you can contact local animal rescues or animal control to borrow a trap. This might end up being necessary for very skittish cats.

Guide Them Home with Familiar Smells

If they’ve lost their way, putting out familiar smells might help lead them back home. Leave out their bedding or toys; you can even sprinkle some used litter around your area.

You can even put out a few pieces of unwashed clothing that smell like you. If they haven’t gotten too far away, these smells may lead them in the right direction.

Ideas on Where to Search

When your cat goes missing, you might not know where to start looking. You want to search efficiently, so here are some promising areas to begin looking in your search:

Where You Last Saw Them

Always start with the last place you saw your cat and work your way outward from there. Look around in any potential hiding spots in that area. Sometimes they might not have gone too far or could just be hiding.

Crawl spaces and Small Spots

Cats love to hide. Check under cars, porches bushes and sheds. Sometimes they can even crawl into sewage drains and vents. This is when it’s important to stop and listen for them in case they’re stuck.

If it’s cold outside, check warm spots like behind heaters, warm vents and even the engines of cars.


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Be sure to check on roofs and in trees. They might need help getting down from somewhere if they don’t have a way down or are too scared to jump.

Your Neighbors House

Sometimes a friendly neighbor will take them in and won’t know who to call, so it’s a good idea to ask around – they might be right next door.

Shelters and Veterinary Clinics

It’s also common for good Samaritans to find a cat and not know what to do with them. They’ll sometimes take them to a local animal hospital or shelter. Call around to see if they’ve been dropped off. If they haven’t, it’s a good idea to leave your information and a description/picture of your cat in case someone does bring them in.

Call for More Help: Letting Others Know

When you aren’t able to find them on your own, call upon the help of others.

Post Flyers

Many people might have seen your cat around and not realized that they’re lost. Posting a photo of the cat and your information will let people know that the cat is missing and who to contact if they see it. You can post these flyers on signs and poles or simply pass them out to people directly while you search.

It’s important to list any special needs such as medication or special dietary requirements so that people know it’s urgent for your cat to be found. Offering a reward is also helpful for giving strangers an incentive to help you look as well.

You can find templates online that will make it easy to create a poster yourself. Make sure the posters are clear and easy to read

Post on Online and in the Local Paper

Take to social media, Craigslist, local newspaper and other local community sites to spread the word. Post a picture of your pet or a copy of the flyer. Let them know where the cat was last seen and any tips that might help them catch it.

This is also a great way to alert your friends that you might need them to come out and help look around your area with you and spread the word.

In A Nutshell…

With patience and diligence, you’ll hopefully be able to get your cat back home within a couple of hours or days. Sometimes they might not be too far away but might take a few days to answer your calls. They can also go for several days without food or water, so stay patient.

Once they’re home safely, it’s best to keep them away from other pets in your home until you can ensure that he or she is healthy and clean. You can also try to train or discipline your cat. It’s smart to schedule a visit to the vet for a thorough exam if you feel like they might have been exposed to something or are acting strange.

The longer you have your cat, the more you’ll become familiar with their tendencies and personality, so finding them should become easier over time. The important thing is to remember to stay calm and be smart about how and where you look.

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