What to do when your cat is missing
- First, make sure that the cat is actually missing, and not asleep somewhere in the house. Some of the places to look: drawers, wardrobes, cupboards, under duvets, under sinks, up the chimney. Sit down and think of possible places where the cat could be hiding or asleep, starting in the house, and widening to your garden/yard/outbuildings etc. Check the car, including the boot and engine compartment.
- If there is no cat flap, keep checking front and back in case the cat has returned and is waiting outside.
- Very often, cats don’t go far; if they are nervous, they will usually hide somewhere near home (neighbours’ sheds are popular). If any neighbours are on holiday, try to find someone who has access to their house to see if the cat is locked in there. This also applies to any empty buildings nearby where the cat could be trapped inside.
- It is common for cats to get into vehicles and fall asleep. Try to find out if there were any tradesmen or deliveries in the area when the cat went missing; your cat could have woken up twenty miles from home.
- If you call the cat’s name when it’s quiet outside (e.g. midnight), you will improve the chance of the cat hearing you if he is within earshot. Also, you will have a better chance of hearing any sound he makes.
- If possible, walk around the neighbourhood calling the cat, shaking a box of cat biscuits, or tapping a cat bowl or tin of cat food with a spoon to attract the cat’s attention (never mind if people look at you oddly – you have to get your cat back!). Try attracting the cat using the smell of hot food: e.g. boiling water in a nearly-empty cat food tin.
- Call every vet you can, in case the cat has been injured and taken to them (often a driver who runs over a cat will go to their own vet, which could be anywhere). Try the PDSA as well.
- Call the council’s cleansing department in case the cat has been killed on the road.
- Call all the local rescues in case someone has taken the cat to them or reported him as a “stray”. This includes the RSPCA, but it is safer to visit the local branch to check for yourself. You need to check every week, as cats are killed to make room for new arrivals (rescues don’t do this).
- Prepare a leaflet (see our example). If the cat is still missing after two days, print the leaflet side by side so you get two leaflets on an A4 (standard letter size) sheet. You will need to photocopy enough leaflets to put through everyone’s door in an area covering your own road and at least one road on each side.
- When you post your leaflets, fold them once with the writing on the outside, so people can see that you’re asking for help; hopefully they will read the leaflets and not just throw them away.
- If you get any sightings of your cat, put out more leaflets around the area he was seen. If you don’t get any response to your leaflets, post more in a widened circle.
- Ask your vet if you can put one of your leaflets in their surgery. You can usually put notices in local shops for a small fee. Posters on lampposts are not nearly as effective as house-to-house leaflets.
- Put an ad in the “Lost & Found” section of the local newspaper, preferably for at least 3 days.
- Offering a small reward may be useful, it encourages children to look for the cat
- Put a poster in your window, preferably with a picture of the cat. Some postmen will take a copy to put up in the sorting office so other postmen can look out for the cat.
- Don’t give up hope: it can take months for people to realise that a cat hanging around is homeless, and many people will feed a cat all through the summer before contacting rescues in the winter to ask them to take in a “stray”.
Try Lost & Found Sites on the Internet
When you Find your Cat:
- Please remember to inform everyone when your cat returns: anyone who keeps a Lost & Found register will be pleased to hear that the cat is back, and it will keep their “lost” section up to date.
- The cat may be traumatised, ill or injured when he returns. Even if he looks all right, a vet check would be a good idea, particularly if he has been missing for more than a few days. Put the cat in a quiet room, and don’t let him back out for at least a few days.
- You may need to treat the cat for worms and fleas, as he could have picked them up outside.
- Identification is important: the only purpose of a collar is to hold your contact details (address and/or phone number). If your cat has a collar, but no disc, get one engraved before you let the cat outside again. We strongly advise the wearing of collars and discs, even for cats who “never go out”. These are the ones who disappear when they “escape” for the first time. We can give advice on how to make sure the collar is safe.
- Have your cat microchipped, as most vets and some rescues routinely scan incoming cats.