The search for your missing cat will benefit from a specific approach depending on whether the cat is indoor-only, has outdoor-access, or is Lost In Transit.
Lost Indoor-Only Cat
The indoor cat’s entire territory is limited to the inside of their house, and therefore when indoor cats escape, they quickly become lost. When an indoor cat escapes from home, the cat is typically hiding close-by in cat survival mode, but will not respond to your calls. Usually, the exhilarated cat will get caught up in their escape, only to realize once they’re outside that they are out of their territory, and fear sets in. Your home might be only a few feet away, but the terrified cat’s instincts will kick in and the cat will hide in silence. This is the most common scenario regarding missing cats accustomed to being indoors. The first action to take in a case like this is to thoroughly search the bushes and trees, under porches, patios, decks around your home, and any other potential hiding spots nearby. Talk with your neighbors and get their permission to search around their homes as well.
Lost Outdoor-Access Cat
Once a cat establishes his territory, he’s comfortable there and will not easily leave it. Therefore, when an outdoor cat is missing, it’s usually due to an event that has forced the cat to leave its territory; your home and surroundings. Look for clues as to what may have happened. Was there a loud event that may have scared your cat into hiding? Was your cat injured by another cat, person or vehicle? Ask yourself what could have happened to your cat to cause this disappearance. For missing cats accustomed to being outdoors, the first action to take should still be a detailed and thorough search of the cat’s territory. However, it’s critical to get the word out quickly to your neighbors, as outdoor cats may wander further than indoor cats. Posting flyers (flyer template here), sending a lost cat alert and mailing lost cat postcards are all good ways of notifying your neighbors that your cat is missing. Find Lost Cat provides these professional cat searching services.
Lost Cat while In Transit
A third, less-common scenario are cats, indoor or outdoor, that have escaped while traveling. Cats that are Lost In Transit are literally displaced from its territory. Some of these missing cats belong to traveling families, and the cat may only have a territory that consists of the inside of a truck, RV, or a boat. Another Lost-In-Transit situation are cats that escape while en route to the vet or vacation. When a cat becomes Lost-In-Transit, it will usually seek a good hiding place and go into survival mode. The best chance of recovering your cat in this situation is to use a Lost Cat Alert along with multiple humane traps and kitty buffets with field cameras or baby monitors. We also recommend posting lost cat flyers around the point of escape and up to a mile away. Sending a Lost Cat Alert up to a mile radius from the point of escape will help alert the local neighbors, which is critical in this instance. In addition, missing cats’ personalities can influence how far they might travel when lost. Kat Albrecht of Missing Pet Partnership has created a fascinating Lost Cat Tip Sheet for better understanding the role of personality on missing cats.