What to do if your cat is missing?

Whether you have lost or found a pet, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Have a look at our tips on what to do when your cat is missing. Register your missing pet here and if you still need further help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Start looking for your cat as soon as you realise he/she is missing. Please don’t wait for your cat to come back on its own. Your cat could be injured, trapped in a shed, locked in a garage or chased away by another cat or a dog. The sooner you start looking for your cat, the higher the chances are of finding him/her.

Make sure to thoroughly search inside of your own home, garden, garage, loft and basement, armed with a torch and the treats. This is due to the fact that cats are known to hide in hard-to-reach areas. They can also sneak under the floorboards, or be stuck behind the cooker or washing machine. They could also be found under the bathtub, behind the chest of drawers, in the wardrobe, in a suitcase or in an air vent.

If your cat is neutered, it is likely that he/she hasn’t gone far. They may have got to the back gardens, the loft, a shed or the garage. However, if your cat has not been neutered, then it is likely that they could be quite far away from their home.

Don’t wait for your cat to come back using their ‘homing instinct’. Cats can easily become disorientated and won’t be able to find their way back home.

Talk to your neighbours. Knock on the doors of your neighbours and of the houses around the block. Ask your neighbours to let you take a look in their gardens and sheds, as it is more likely that they will respond to you instead of a stranger.

Check with your neighbours if there is a new cat/dog which could possibly intimidate your cat and block his/her way back home.

Check outside bins, skips, sheds, garages, any wood stacks etc.

Check any houses which are to let / for sale. Your cat could sneak in while the estate agent is showing the house to the potential tenants/buyers.

Check any house with builders in your area.

Make sure to check on the roofs, windowsills, and into the branches of nearby trees. Cats could look for a shelter or follow a bird and simply get stuck in a tree. Please remember that cats have no problem with climbing up but could have some difficulties while coming down, especially if they are very young or typically indoor cats.

Call the following:

  • Your vet and other local vets
  • The nearest animal hospital or your local RSPCA
  • Cats Protection
  • Your local council,
  • Animal pounds in your area
  • Dog wardens.
  • Your microchip company. Please list your cat as lost and ensure your cat’s microchip is up to date.

Put up as many posters as you can: in vet practices, pet shops, animal charity shops, local shops, outside schools, post offices, libraries, community centres, churches, on supermarket noticeboards, outside cinemas, anywhere that people are likely to gather. Also, putting posters up at bus stops, tube and train stations are phone booths would help.

Put leaflets through all of the nearby houses. And if you still don’t have any luck in locating your cat, keep extending further out.

Ask your local postal workers if they have seen a cat his/her description.

Cats feel safer at dusk and tend to come out when it’s darker, so search late at night and early in the morning. Go out and listen to any meow/sound. It will be easier to hear anything at night when it’s silent. Shake dry food and/or treats.

Take a torch with you. If your cat is hiding in or under something, a torch will catch their reflective eyes.

When it isn’t raining, put out your cat’s bedding or the contents of the hoover bag. This would allow them to pick up the scent of where they come from.

If you have a dog who knows your cat, take him for a walk around the house and areas close by. Dogs can sniff-out things we can’t.

Your local neighbourhood online forums, community groups or even WhatsApp neighbour groups are good platforms to post information about lost cats. Also. make sure you list your missing cat on animalsearchuk.co.uk, cataware.co.uk and petslocated.com. Social media is also very important, so make sure you post about your missing cat on Twitter and Instagram as well.

Put food and water out for your cat at the same time in the morning and evening, close to where he went missing from or where there have been any recent sightings. Keep doing so even if you think other cats or foxes might be eating the food instead. You can leave outside warm chicken, sardines, tuna and cheese, as the strong smell will travel further and could attract your cat to come out from their hiding place.

If you don’t have a cat flap, leave your back door or window open for as long as possible.

When an indoor-only cat escapes, they generally hide in silence. Usually, they will not meow, even if they know your voice. While checking outdoor space, try not to make sudden movements as this may scare the cat further.

IF IN SPITE OF ALL YOUR EFFORTS YOUR CAT IS STILL MISSING:

Expand the search area. Cats can travel a long way when they’re spooked. They could be several blocks away, or could even have been picked up by a well-meaning person and taken to a pound or vet in neighbouring areas. Sometimes cats can jump in a car/van and find themselves miles away.

Place an ad in your local newspaper and make sure to include details of where the cat was lost from. Please remember to include your contact details.

Do not give up hope. When cats first go missing, they often hide for a couple of weeks before they start appearing. Keep putting posters up and extend the area you post leaflets in. Also, it is important to include on your poster a request for people to look in sheds, outdoor storage spaces, gardens, garages, basement areas, lofts etc.

Keep your flyers and posters updated with a “Still Missing” header.

Cats sometimes pal up with other cats for food or maybe even for feline companionship, so it’s always good to have a look where cats congregate together. Ask if any of the neighbours are feeding a new cat or if they noticed that their own cat’s food is lasting less than usual. Your cat could be eating other cats’ food and making himself comfortable in another home, especially if there is a cat flap. We know of cats found 5 weeks later, 2 years and even 6 years later! Some of them were found at the end of their own road and some travelled more than 2 miles.