1) Time is of the essence
Stay calm, and start your search operation right away. Take a deep breath, print out this checklist, and begin in your house. Meticulously search your home and close surroundings. Cats are territorial and generally stay close to home.
Search each room in your home thoroughly before moving to the next. Use the checklist below to go through your initial search before moving on to the next steps.
Under each piece of furniture.
Inside furniture, including couches, chairs, behind and in dresser drawers.
Under each bed, and inside mattress box springs.
Inside all closets, cabinets, hutches.
Check crawl spaces, attic, basement.
Behind and in washer and dryer.
Behind water heater.
Under the house, patio, decks.
All trees and bushes in your yard and close by.
Any garage, shed, or barn on your property
2) Ask Your Neighbors for Help Finding Your Cat
Once you have established that your lost cat is not in your home or immediate surroundings, it’s time to talk with your neighbors. Ask if they will thoroughly search their home with this checklist, or if they will allow you to search their home.
This will also help to spread the word that your cat is missing.
It will be great news when someone contacts you to report that they have seen your missing cat. Make the most of the opportunity by having an organized list of questions to ask witnesses.
- Please describe the cat you saw. (Let the witness tell you the features to confirm your cat’s identity.)
- Where did you see the cat?
- When, what time of day was it?
- Was the cat wearing a collar?
- What was the cat doing?
- What was the cat’s overall demeanor? Did it look happy and healthy, or tired and weak?
- Was the cat alone, or with other animals or people?
Use the following questions when you go door to door in your neighborhood. When you do this, bring your lost cat flyers to hand out as well.
- Do you recognize my cat?
- Has my cat ever been on your property?
- Have you seen my cat since it has been missing?
- Do you have any information regarding my cat being missing?
- Where have you seen my cat, both before and since it has been missing?
- Do you know anyone in the neighborhood who hates cats?
- Have you seen any coyotes or other wild animals in the neighborhood since my cat has been missing?
- Could we look in your garage/shed/barn together now and see if my cat is trapped inside?
- Could we look outside around the perimeter of your house together to see if my cat is trapped or hiding on your property?
- Do you know if anyone in the neighborhood has been on holiday or away from home since my cat has been missing?
It can be tough to come up with questions to ask people about your lost cat. Print this out for key questions to ask neighbors and witnesses, right at your fingertips.
3) Create and Hang Lost Cat Flyers
If your cat is still missing, make missing cat flyers that include photos of your cat. Do this right away. Find Lost Cat has FREE Lost Cat Flyer Templates that you can fill in and print at home .
4) Start Your Search
Now it’s time to search the area outside on foot. Do this with a companion, never alone. Supplies to bring include a flashlight, drinking water, and a small lightweight blanket. (If you find your cat injured and/or scared, you’ll use the blanket to wrap the cat gently but securely, so you can get him home or to the vet without getting scratched. If your cat is injured this will prevent him from thrashing around and further injuring himself.)
5) Visit Shelters
Visit the local cat shelters and give them a copy of your Lost Cat Flyer so they will start looking for your cat among their new arrivals.
6) Follow Up With a Phone Call
Follow up daily by calling the local cat shelters to ask if they have seen your cat. The reason for calling daily is that most shelters are run by volunteers, so staff is likely to be different each day.
7) Check with Animal Control
Call animal control every other day to check if your cat has been picked up DOA. (Though it will be sad if your cat is deceased, it will give you closure in your search and the ability to begin the grieving process. Most people agree that not knowing what happened to a vanished pet is worse than having closure.)
8) Record a Unique Voicemail
Record a specific missing cat voicemail message during your search. Your message could go something like this:
“Hi, you’ve reached Jennifer. If this message is about my lost cat Snickers, thank you for calling. Please leave your name and phone number along with the day, time, location, and any other information you have about my missing cat. Thank you for your help.”
With our service, Cat Amber Alerts, you can have a custom message recorded by someone on our team and blast out the message to hundreds of neighbors in your area. This service has our best success rate of returning cats to their owners.
9) Utilize Social Media
Use your social media accounts. Post about your missing cat on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and anywhere else you have access.
10) Put an Ad Out
Post a missing cat ad on Craigslist.org.
- Are any of your neighbors on vacation? It is possible your cat could be trapped somewhere in their home or garage. If you don’t have their mobile phone number, ask your other neighbors for info so you can get connected with the vacationing neighbors and permission to search their property.
- Is there a construction project in close proximity to yours? It is possible your cat could be trapped somewhere in the construction project. Post flyers all around the construction site, and ask the project foreman to inform his crew about your missing cat.