So, your companion is lost and you’re all concerned. Well, first of all, remember to keep calm.

Let’s see what you can do to get your cat back. I’ve seen many people lose their cats for days on end and sometimes weeks too but they always come back. But still, there could be complications. Let’s find out.

The basic steps

  1. If you live in a big town, find online cat communities like Facebook groups and subreddits. Post your cat’s description and pictures there. Hopefully, someone will find your cat or give certain tips for that region.
  2. Needless to mention, search the neighborhood repeatedly and call out his or her name clearly but not loudly. As your cat could be virtually anywhere, there’s little point in crying out loud everywhere.
  3. Set up some of your cat’s favorite food outside of your home. Placing the litter box, clothes, or any toy outside might also help as they will have strong smells that your cat connects with the feeling of home.
  4. Lost posters are traditionally viable albeit being pretty ineffective in most of the situations. 
  5. Baiting your cat with canned food with a strong smell is a good idea. But it also attracts other cats so you’ll need to supervise the spot.
  6. It goes without saying, if you have a dog as the cat’s friend, they will surely make finding the lost cat way easier. And cats are also more likely to return to their animal friends. Take your dog outside more often in this case.
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abanombed kitten

Is your cat really lost? Cats have a strong sense of finding their way back

Cats have a strong sense of smell and directions. 9 out of 10 times, a cat isn’t lost – it has left or left for a while.

Most of the cat owners that find their cats missing usually happen to have moved to a new place or are visiting a new place. A new place gives your cat ample opportunities to explore and meet new cats. Now, as a human being (or should I call hoo-man?), we’re prone to believing that the cat has gone missing and can’t find its way back as it’s a new place. But that’s rarely the case.

The reason for your cat’s departure can be many. Sometimes, they just get out and fight other stray cats, which is a very dangerous thing to do. At other times, they’re just … observing, it seems. I don’t really know. Some cats are bigger explorers than others.

I’ve seen my own cats go missing for a week or more. Especially adult ones who have given birth. They always know their way back home, so it’s either just a matter of time or the time to say goodbye.

Even if your cat isn’t coming back, there’s nothing to worry about. You’ve not lost it forever. It’s pretty much a fact that a cat doesn’t bother going beyond a mile of its home. They might not have a sensor or radar, but they have a good sense of how far they’ve come from where you left them. And a mile is pretty much their limit.

cat on street

Night patrol!

A good way to find your cat is going on night patrol. It might be tiring but it will be worth it.

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Cats are usually active around 10 PM – 3 AM. These are predators and just like all other hunters in the family, the cats also specialize in hunting and exploring under the cover of night. They have exceptionally clear night vision; in case you were wondering.

So, it might be a very good idea to stay up late and wait for your cat. Chances are, your cat might actually be coming to you, following pretty much the same way it went, but leaving before you wake up.

Sure, cats that are very affectionate to their owners won’t do this, but that’s not always the case, especially with new pets.

Keep some food out and wait for your cat in the night – you’ll probably run into him or her.

In case you’re not sure about finding your cat in the night, you can put some food out (but away from places where strays can easily eat them) and sleep as per your routine. If food is missing the next morning, it might be a good idea to do a night patrol.

A proper night patrol would be around 1 AM to 2 AM. Everyone’s asleep and there’s silence. So, take a flashlight and some strong-smelling food and look around.

When within eyeshot

I’ve seen many people struggle with “getting” their cat once they’ve found it. This happens mostly in places that are new to your cat, especially if they were a mostly indoor pet.

Clapping, shouting their name, running towards them, and external distractions (other animals, traffic, noises, other people, etc.) will startle them further and instead of coming to you, they’ll try to run and hide.

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So, once you’ve managed to track down your cat and they’re within your eyeshot, do these:

  • Kneel down,
  • Don’t look directly into their eyes,
  • Softly call their name, 
  • Give a cat kiss if they respond to that usually,
  • Throw out your hands,
  • And be inviting overall.

And when you find your cat …

When your cat does come back to you or you manage to find it, make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

See behavioral changes, track movement patterns indoors, see if there are any “companions” of your cat around, etc. and you’ll have a general idea of what your cat is liking or not liking in a new setting or its existing setting. Make changes accordingly.

Also, the simplest way is to microchip your cat by consulting a vet. You’ll be able to track and monitor your cat very easily using smartphone apps. Cameras in your home will also be helpful in case you’re not home to see which direction your cat leaves to and how it comes back.

And in case you struggled with sending pictures to online communities (again, these can be extremely helpful in big towns) or for printing on lost posters, snap a good, clear full-body picture now for future use.

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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".