How to Find a Lost Cat

Three Minutes
Apr 20, 2022

A lost cat is every pet parent’s nightmare. 

If you have a cat that stays inside you may have to deal with this situation more frequently as indoor cats can get out and become lost or hurt. While indoor-outdoor cats are usually comfortable coming and going as they please; you never know where their adventures may take them. 

Things to Keep in Mind About Cats

If you have an indoor-outdoor cat who has gone missing for a couple of days, keep in mind that cats are territorial. An indoor-outdoor cat is more likely to defend “his” territory than he is to run further away or get lost. Because of a cat’s inherent territorial nature, if he doesn’t come home it can be more likely he was injured, stolen or deceased.  

An indoor cat doesn’t have the scent attachment to the out-of-doors that a cat who spends time outdoors does and that may cause her to run away out of fear.  

What to Do if Your Cat Goes Missing

If your cat goes missing, you need to set your emotions aside and consider these possibilities:  

  • He was considered a stray and picked up by animal control  
  • A neighbor assumed he was a stray and brought him indoors 
  • Abducted 
  • Injured or killed by an automobile or a dog, coyote or other wildlife  

How to Find your Missing Cat

If your cat goes missing here are ways to find her (these may work for both indoor and indoor-outdoor cats):  

Make a plan

Have a strategy for finding your cat and bringing her home. You may also be seeking closure if she has been missing for some time, that she is deceased. No matter what your plan, time is of the essence to find your beloved cat. As soon as you notice your cat is missing you want to start searching for her.  

Go Looking

Thoroughly check the yard. If an indoor cat bolts out the door, she may stay close to home. Check under the deck, under the house, around the foundation, and in the shrubbery. She may not come to you when you call her because she is frightened, so you need to be thorough in your search. 

Check high. A scared cat may very well climb a tree.  Search warm places – especially if it’s cold outside.  Get a baby monitor or a motion-activated camera and set it up on a porch by your cat’s food bowl. Monitor the camera and you may see your cat coming out to eat.  

Hang Flyers

Hang flyers in your neighborhood. Put your contact information and a photo of your lost cat. Knock on your neighbors’ doors and ask if they’ve seen your cat and if they will please be on the lookout for him.  

Call Animal Control

Alert animal control, local veterinarians’ offices and local animal shelters that your cat is missing. Leave a flyer with your contact information with them.  

Consider Advertising

If there is a local newspaper, put a notice in there. Take to Facebook and other social media; post photos and ask friends and family to share your “lost cat” post.  

Put Your Cat's Litter Box Outside

Put your cat’s litter box outside. She will smell it and it may lure her home because it is a scent she is accustomed to. If you have multiple cats, this may be even better to lure her home. Do not clean the litter box before you put it outdoors.  Sit quietly by your home and in your yard and call your kitty. Listen for sounds of meows or purrs.  

Keep Collars up to Date

If you have an indoor-outdoor cat you may not want to have a collar on her, but if you do, make certain he is wearing an identification tag and that it is a “breakaway collar” so she doesn’t get injured if the collar gets caught. If your cat has identification on a collar she is more likely to be returned to you.  

Microchip your Cat

Whether she is indoor-only or indoor-outdoor. A microchip is permanent and could amp up the chance your cat will be returned to you. Some pet parents also have ear tattoos for their pets as that is also a permanent record the cat is yours.  

Protecting Indoor Cats

Indoor cats are often not exposed to wildlife, vehicles, being stolen or contracting outdoor borne illness like Lyme Disease.

Some pet parents believe that cats need to be “in the wild” to connect with their inner wildcat. You can enrich your cat’s indoor environment with toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and other items to help him jump and pounce on prey. There are puzzle toys you can get for your cat to help with her hunting instinct.  

If your cat goes missing you need to immediately begin a search. You don’t want to give her too much of a chance to get scared or chased and climb a tree or run even further away.  

Once your cat is returned, you may want to call your veterinarian to have her checked to assure she isn’t injured or doesn’t have any tick bites. If you have cat health insurance, consider taking her to the vet for a check-up.  

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.