Our shelters fill up each day with lost and surrendered cats, and even more so during the festive season (Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Australia Day).  Microchipping and tags are great ways to try to reconnect lost pets with their family.  But what else can you do?  Dogs and cats behave differently when lost according to Missing Pet Partnership.  We share a few insights about lost cat behaviour and tips to help you search for your lost cat. Let’s hope that will you never need this advice!

Understand lost cat behaviour

  • Cats are territorial, they rarely go far.  A USA study showed that 84% of outdoor cats and 92% of indoor cats were found within a 3 – 5 house radius.
  • If your indoor cat has escaped and is displaced outside or into unfamiliar territory there is good news — your cat is probably hiding and, depending upon the terrain, it is probably closer than you think!
  • When an outdoor-access cat suddenly vanishes, it means that something has happened to that cat to interrupt its normal behaviour of coming home. Cats can become displaced from their territory by some event such as a storm, fireworks or chased or they have been trapped, ‘rescued’ or adopted.
  • Your outdoor-access cat may not really be lost, instead, she is visiting a neighbour in your street, perhaps even enjoying a few treats!
  • A lost cat could be scared and be hiding, injured, sick or dead.

Tips to search for a lost cat

  1. According to missingpartnership.org the primary technique to recover a missing cat should be to obtain permission from all neighbours to enter their yards and conduct an aggressive, physical search for the missing cat (and to set baited humane traps there when necessary). Simply asking a neighbour to “look” for the lost cat is not sufficient. Neighbours are not going to crawl around on their bellies under their decks or houses to search for someone else’s lost cat!
  2. When an indoor-only cat escapes outdoors, utilise a baited humane trap as a recovery tool.
  3. Place fluorescent posters within at least a five-block radius.  It is likely your cat is close by and a neighbour will come across your cat if your she has a friendly disposition towards strangers. More about posters below.

Posters for a lost cat that grab attention 

  1. GIANT
  2. Fluorescent
  3. Large letters, no more than 5 words eg REWARD LOST CAT – SIAMESE
  4. Good picture of your pet

Search for a lost cat sources

  • Presentation at G2Z Summit 2015: Getting Animals Back Home by John Cicirelli, Director of Animal Care and Services, City of San Jose, USA
  • Missingpetpartnership.org has detailed information on the differences between indoor cats and outdoor cats, and lost cat recovery tips.

Search for a lost cat resources

  • Where Pets are Found is a pet website that is dedicated to reuniting lost and found pets with their owners, as well as finding pets available for adoption into new homes
  • RSPCA Pet Reunite
  • Missing Pet Partnership is a United States nonprofit organisation dedicated to reuniting lost companion animals with their owners/guardians.