There are few things scarier for a pet owner than losing their beloved friend, especially when it’s an indoor cat. It happens- indoor cats can slip out doors that weren’t quite shut, windows with a torn screen, or perhaps just let out by a guest that wasn’t aware the kitty needed to stay inside. However it happens, here are my tips for finding your furry baby safely.
1. Stay calm
Undoubtedly, my gut reaction would be to have a little freak out session upon learning I had a missing cat, but that will do no good for anyone. It’s important to have a clear head and to remain calm for your kitty. Imagine this, if you’re having a fit at home, more than likely, your cat will steer clear of you until you simmer down. Same goes for searching for your cat outdoors. Keeping calm while searching will keep them calm once you find each other.
2. Check INDOORS
This may sound crazy, but there is a high likelihood that your missing feline is still in your house. Cats are crazy good at tucking themselves away in strange places, making it difficult to find them.
Twice in my adult life I have “lost” two cats for multiple hours only to find them hidden away indoors. Once, I was certain, absolutely certain, that a foster cat I was caring for had gotten out of a torn screen of a second story window. I was panicked for a multitude of reasons. Then, hours later, I noticed my bed covers moving strangely. There she was. That tiny cat had sought safety in an unfamiliar home under my mattress pad and sheets. How she managed to get herself in that position, I’ll never know.
The second time was just this past week when we couldn’t find one of our senior gals who is typically as close to a human as possible at all times. Three hours later, we discovered her sleeping oh-so-soundly up high in the back of a closet whose door had been left slightly open. So yes, quadruple check indoors in every nook and cranny.
3. Stay Close to Home
So you’ve searched your house from top to bottom and know, without a doubt, that your indoor cat is outside. What now? More than likely, your kitty is just as frightened and overwhelmed as you are which means they aren’t far from home at all. Start by alerting your surrounding neighbors. Ask them if you can check their garages, sheds, under decks or porches, and even in crawlspaces. Growing up, we once lost an indoor/outdoor cat for a week. She was later found in a vacant house’s garage that had been opened for a showing. She was hungry and thirsty but happy to be found! It pays to positively communicate with your neighbors.
Make sure your neighbors know what your cat looks like and that you may be searching at odd hours. Odd hours, huh? One of the best times to look for a lost cat is at night for one simple reason. Reflection. Once the sun has gone down, take a flashlight and start shining it in bushes and other dark places that look like they’d be safe hidey-holes for a scared kitty. As you’re shining that flashlight, look for the reflection of the light in your kitty’s eyes. I find this tactic to be one of the most successful for finding a cat at night. DO let your neighbors know that you will be doing this though so they know you’re a worried pet owner, not a burglar!
If you don’t find your kitty immediately, leave out some food and water in a few locations. Keep in mind that, yes, other critters may partake in this as well so dwindling food may not necessarily mean that your cat is the one eating the food. Having their familiar food scent around may help draw them out and will hopefully keep them nourished and hydrated.
While social media can sometimes drive us batty, it can literally be a lifesaver when it comes to finding your kitty! First, make sure that you have a good photo of your pet. Take one tonight, if you can. Not a blurry one, not one of just the tail end, but a clear photo of your cat’s face. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to give us a good idea of what your pet looks like. Hopefully you’ll never have to use that photo to help find your pet but if you do, you’re ready!
Now, circulate that picture everywhere! Petfinder.com, Facebook, Instagram, Email, Twitter, Nextdoor.com- tell everyone! More specifically, alert your community. Personally, my region has several Facebook pages that have been instrumental in helping find lost pets quickly. For example, my neighborhood has a page, my district has a page, my city has a page specifically for lost pets, AND my district has a page specifically for lost pets! I would share my photo on ALL of these pages for maximum exposure. Physical signs in your neighborhood are gold as well!
5. Be Prepared
This next point is less about finding your cat and more about having everyone prepared in case the unthinkable occurs.
Some other helpful tips:
Take your kitty to the vet today. Many indoor cat owners believe that since their cat doesn’t go outside, it doesn’t need vaccinations or the like. False. Every kitty needs to be regularly seen by the vet, indoor or not. Having your feline friend vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped will help your kitty’s survival tremendously.
Microchip your cat. The cost is low and the benefits priceless. If someone finds your cat and takes it to the vet or shelter, the first thing they will do is scan it to check for a microchip. This simple act can make big differences in being reunited with your kitty.
May you find your feline friend safe and sound! Once they are back home, give them a little extra treat (or two!) and lots of extra lovin’! When she or he does make it home, it’s always a good idea to get a vet check up just to make sure they’re as healthy as they can be.
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