Tips to Find a Lost Cat

How your cat reacts in a new environment depends greatly on their personality. An adventurous cat may be more likely to roam, whereas a skittish cat may seek a safe hiding spot. Once a cat has left their comfort zone, almost anything can scare them even more. Most indoor-only cats tend not travel far (sometimes even as close as your next door neighbor’s home).

START THE SEARCH INDOORS Check your home very carefully, searching in every nook and cranny. Enlist other people to help you, as different people notice different things. Once you have looked everywhere, look again. Not all missing cats are lost, yet all cats are masters at hiding in obscure and seemingly impossible places. ACT NOW Social media can be the key to finding lost cats - access to your friends, family, and a community of fellow pet lovers at your fingertips. Post your cat’s name & picture online, asking for anyone willing to share your post and/or help join your search party. The search must start now. Upon returning from your search, contact the following Facebook pages to post your cat’s information for you. You may also request to post a notice on your community's social media page. YYC Pet Recovery Alberta Lost Pet Locator and Rescue Society Notify veterinary clinics and shelters Contact local veterinary clinics in your own community, surrounding communities, and all of the 24-hour veterinary hospitals in the area, advising them that you have lost your cat and to contact you if any information becomes available. Provide each organization with a copy of your lost poster. To create a lost report in Calgary, call the City of Calgary Animal Services at 311, the MEOW Foundation at (403) 554-4607 and the Calgary Humane Society at (403) 205-4455. Visit the Calgary Humane Society and Calgary Animal Services websites every few days to check the cats that have been turned in to their facilities. Outside of Calgary, contact your local cat rescue, local veterinarian, humane society or municipal government for information on how to proceed. Notify your cat's microchip company If your cat has a microchip, also contact the microchip company to notify them that your cat is missing and ensure they have your current contact details. MOVE THE SEARCH OUTSIDE Preparation Grab a good flashlight, the treat bag +/- a recording of your other cat’s meow and start the search.

Wear comfortable clothes that can get dirty.

Make sure everyone takes along a fully charged cellphone. Take advantage of your cat’s acute senses A cat’s sense of smell, hearing and sight far exceed our own; use this to your advantage when searching for your lost friend. Remember, just because you don’t smell/hear/see them, doesn’t mean they don’t smell/hear/see you. Smell Use smelly and/or enticing foods and treats; this may be your cat’s favorite packaged treats, wet food, tuna, sardines or catnip. TIP: Add hot water and warm the wet food, tuna or sardines slightly in your microwave; this will help the odor linger and travel further. Hearing Shake the treat bag, call your cat by their name or in the same way you call them for dinner. TIP: Record the meow of another cat at home and play this on your smartphone while you are out looking for your lost friend. Put yourself in their paws Begin your search at the suspected exit point from your home. Look around. Where would you go if you were your cat? Put yourself in their paws. Look on the ground for fresh tracks in mud or on the sidewalk for an idea of which direction your cat may have travelled. Extend your search from your yard to your neighbors’ yards in every direction. If you have helpers, spread out in different directions. Remember, cats are skilled climbers – look up and down. Using your flashlight, look under porches, decks, stairs and tarps; look inside small openings, sheds and garages; and look up in trees or on fences. If the weather is harsh, focus on areas that would protect your cat from the elements. Cats will most likely run along the sides of homes as opposed to running in a more exposed area so pay special attention to hiding spots close to home. Don’t be shy… Talk to everyone! During your search, alert everyone you see about your missing cat and knock on every door, making sure to show them your cat’s picture. Ask them if you can check in their yard, shed and garage; you will search more thoroughly than they will. You are feline-focused. Notify your mailman, paper boy, kids, and anyone else you can think of that is outside on a daily basis. TIP: Alert kids in the area; they notice everything and are sometimes keen to work for the reward. Dog owners are another great source of information, as their dogs may have noticed your cat or picked up on their scent. Ask the dog walkers if their dog was acting strange in a certain area for no apparent reason - they may have found your cat’s hiding spot. Bring the inside outside Upon returning home, leave food and water outside your home. Place your cat’s bedding, their used litter box, and some of your unwashed clothing outside; these are familiar scents. Remember, their nose knows! If the weather is unfriendly, place the food and water in an area protected from the elements, but still easily accessible by a scared kitty. If possible, keep your garage door open slightly and set up food, water and bedding inside. Leaving a baby monitor near the food may help you hear if there are any visitors. Using a humane trap Setting up a trap can be a successful and safe means of catching your kitty. Traps must be checked often to ensure the welfare of the animal inside; it is possible that you may catch another cat or a wild animal. Visit for tips on how to set up a trap. Healthy Paws Forward Veterinary Hospital has traps that can be rented (a deposit is required, but will be refunded in full upon return of the trap). Continue the search – dusk & dawn The best times to search are at dawn and dusk, as the neighborhood is typically quieter and small birds and rodents may be flying and scurrying about, a potentially irresistible temptation for a hungry or curious cat. Every night before going to bed, check the safe spots and traps and call out to your cat one more time. If you have recently moved, expand your search to your previous home and hang posters in the area in between your previous and new homes. Lost Posters Make a missing cat poster and plaster your neighborhood. Deliver the poster door to door. Hang the poster at bus stops, pet stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, schools, churches, community centers, on lampposts, and at major intersections in the area. If you have access to sandwich boards, make a big poster to place at the major intersections entering your community. Create a lost poster with your phone number, a close-up color picture of your cat, your cat’s name, and the words “Lost Cat” (+/- “Reward”) in a font large enough that people can see it from their vehicles and as they walk past. If offering a reward; do not quote an amount, as people may not think the offer is worth the effort. Indicate if your cat is on any medication; this may deter people who agree with the saying “finders keepers”. You may also consider adding vertically cut strips with your contact info at the bottom of the page for people to tear off. Download a free lost poster. You simply have to insert your cat’s information and print it off. TIP: Slip posters in a plastic sheet cover (with the opening at the bottom) to prevent the poster from getting damaged from rain or snow. KEEP HOPE IN YOUR HEART The search can be physically and emotionally draining; stay strong. Cats are amazing! There are countless stories documenting a lost cat’s return weeks, and even months after they first went missing. Keep the search alive and current by periodically updating your posts on social media, calling all of the vet clinics and agencies above and hanging “Still Missing” posters in your neighborhood. PREVENTION Contact our hospital or visit this page on Petfinder to learn more about getting permanent identification for your cat.

Is it actually possible to teach your cat how to come on command? Yes! The information obtained from a simple Google search for “training your cat to come when called” could keep you and your cat busy for some time.

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