How to Find a Lost Indoor-only Cat

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  • First, don’t panic: We always envision our cats running away for miles only to be lost from us forever. If your cat has been indoor most of it’s life, chances are that it’s no more than one or two houses away. There is an even better chance that it is probably within 50 feet of your front door.
  • When your cat is first lost, gently walk the area and talk in a normal tone (especially helpful if you talk to another person in a normal conversational tone). Casually search under decks, up trees and inside every little nook and cranny. You are also spreading your scent everywhere to help your cat find it’s way home. STAY AWAY from road-side and busy streets so you cat does not follow you there.
  • When your cat is first lost, gently walk the area and talk in a normal tone (especially helpful if you talk to another person in a normal conversational tone). Casually search under decks, up trees and inside every little nook and cranny. You are also spreading your scent everywhere to help your cat find it’s way home. STAY AWAY from road-side and busy streets so you cat does not follow you there.
  • Heavily scent your door. Choose a door that will be easy for your cat to come into (preferably the one it ran out). Put the cat’s NORMAL cat food on the porch (only a small amount). Keep the door or window open and place it’s litter box and even more food right inside. I place everything that is familiar to my cat (toys, beds, etc) right inside the front door.
  • Walk the area. Do this every hour. Create very clear scent trails that lead back to the home. Carry some of the cat food with you and maybe even some catnip and tuna (if the cat likes them).
  • Cat Traps. Otherwise known as raccoon traps. These are very effective at catching every other cat in the neighborhood but your own. They are very effective at catching a cat that may be more comfortable with the outdoors. Place the NORMAL cat food in the trap and check it every few hours.
  • Your cat’s mind. When your cat is outside, all of it’s senses changes. Even though you may be just a few feet away calling them, they are still scared. It doesn’t see you, it just sees a possible predator. My vet once said that a cat’s vision literally becomes a infrared and it only sees shadows and heats and nothing else. If you know this, you know to be gentle in your approach in looking for him/her.
  • Tell your neighbors. At first, I wouldn’t ask more than 2-3 doors away. Put a flier on your neighbor’s door (or better yet, talk to them) and ask them to call you if they think they spot the cat. If they know for sure they have seen your cat, ask if you can set up a cat trap and also ask if they would be willing to lure the cat in gently if they see it. There was a time, one of our cats was caught by a neighbor. They neighbor had put tuna right inside his back door and lured our cat in. Then he shut the door and called us. We were thrilled!
  • Notify your local animal shelter asap. Take a photo down to them and check the shelter every 2 days (they hold them for a max of three days). This is heartwrenching because you will see a lot of lost and lonely cats and probably not yours. But I have heard of people finding their pets at the shelter, so don’t give this method up. Keep in mind that if your cat has been indoors all her life, she is most likely a few feet away from your home.
  • Wait patiently. With the exception of our neighbor finding our cats, the method that worked the most was to keep the door open that they cat escaped from. They followed their scent back and found home. And honestly, this always happened between 1am and 4am when it is very quiet outside with very little distractions. I always slept on the couch and as soon as I knew they were in the home, I shut the door and loved on them. They will be very thirsty and hungry and will most likely sleep for three days.
  • I highly recommend this website for help with finding a lost cat: http://sonic.net/~pauline/profile.html
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