Before a cat goes missing
All cats, even indoor cats, should have adequate identification which includes a permanent microchip and a collar and ID tag if they are indoor/outdoor. Include the cat’s name and your phone number on the tag.
A microchip is only as good as the details on the database. People move home, change contact numbers or transfer ownership of a cat and forget to update the microchip details. This makes it hard and sometimes impossible to track down the owners. Make sure the details are up to date, and if possible, add a second contact as an emergency contact.
How to find your missing cat
- Check your home: This may seem obvious but check inside your house thoroughly. This includes in wardrobes, cupboards, under beds, behind furniture, curtains, and appliances. Look inside washing machines and dryers. Cats can climb into extraordinarily small spaces which don’t seem possible.
- Post on social media: Use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to post about your missing cat. Social media sites usually have local groups in your area to take advantage of social media to spread the word.
- Call your vet: Many veterinarians have a lost and found book and people will usually bring a lost pet to the practice. If the cat is not microchipped, has no collar and ID, or the microchip details are not up to date, they will be unable to trace the owners (unless they recognise the pet). Even if the pet hasn’t been brought to the veterinarian, leave your contact details and a description of your cat in case somebody brings him or her up. When our cat escaped, he turned up in a local woman’s garden. Unable to catch him, she contacted our veterinarian. When I called later, they were able to give me her address and we caught him in her garden.
- Walk around the neighbourhood calling out to your cat: Try taking a box of biscuits or a can of food and make a noise. Even if it is daylight, take a torch with you so you can check dark areas such as under cars. A scared or injured animal may not respond to your calls, so not only should you search the neighbourhood during daylight but also have a walk around when it’s dark as your cat may be more responsive at this time.
- Ask local tradesmen, your postman, paperboy and garbage collectors: These people are out and about and may have seen your cat.
- Check stormwater drains and sewers (obviously, you can’t go down there but if possible look down grates and call your cat’s name). When walking the neighbourhood call out your cat’s name, make some sounds with the food and then listen. A frightened or injured cat may be quiet. Be aware of the sounds around you. Look both up and down. Check out trees, under bushes and cars.
- Ask neighbours: To see if they know of anything. It is not recommended that you do this alone, and definitely, NEVER send a child out to door knock. Ask your neighbours to check their houses, under their houses, garages, and sheds. It’s worthwhile asking your neighbours to ask their children to keep a lookout for your pet too.
- Print out flyers: Include a clear and preferably full body photo of your pet, drop them in as many letterboxes as you can. Offer a reward but don’t state how much you are offering. Don’t include your full name or address. Just include a first name and phone number. It is also useful if you put tabs on the bottom of the flyer with your phone number on it, this way people can rip off a tab and take it home with them for future reference should they come across your pet.
- Call all the animal shelters in your area: If it is at all possible, visit the shelters yourself as the description you give them may not translate well.
- New house: If you have moved house check your old location and put flyers up there too.
- Leave food and water outside: As well as your cat’s favourite bed and a piece of your old clothing.
- Contact the cat’s microchip company: List the cat as missing with the microchip database, that way if the cat has been stolen or ends up in another home, when a veterinarian or shelter scans the chip, it will show that the cat has been stolen.
Do not leave the litter tray outside. A dirty litter tray can attract neighbourhood cats or predators which will make the situation worse.
Stay calm. I know this is easier said than done. In almost all cases I have heard of where a cat has gone missing, he has been found.
Sadly sometimes cats do get hit and killed by cars so it is worth calling your local council and asking them what happens in the event of a cat being killed. They may know or will be able to put you on to somebody who you can leave your details with, in the event of the worst happening.