28 September 2020

Ultimate Guide UK: How to find my missing cat

Believe you me, I totally understand how traumatic it can be when a furry family member goes missing!

Thanks to running a cat sitting business—and being owned by a kitty myself—’how to find a missing cat’ is something I have researched hard! You’ll find this post is brimming with useful ideas and resources.

Before we start, just remember you are not alone! There are a multitude of people like me who will want to help reunite you. You just need to know where and how to find them…

Right! Let’s get this kitty back home!

Is there any chance my cat is still hiding at home?

Undercover Bliss ©purrplex.com

Do remember that cats often hide or get stuck in unusual spots!

With this in mind, check these areas, being as methodical and thorough as you can:

  • wardrobes and cupboards
  • behind kickboards
  • under beds and bedding
  • in or behind drawers
  • laundry baskets
  • in outdoor bins including compost
  • water butts
  • any outside storage
  • planters, hedges and trees
  • inside the fireplace
    (a cat of mine clambered up onto a ledge & didn’t have the decency to let me know)
  • cellars, basements and lofts
  • any outbuildings such as sheds and garages
  • roofs

Useful searching tips:

  • Use familiar sounds that your cat responds to, such as: 
    • the shake of a treat packet
    • tapping of a food bowl
    • the sound of your voice calling
    • whistling
  • Leave moments between calling/shaking treats to listen out for meowing or scratching noises
  • They may be scared, so sound calm to help keep pusscat at ease
  • Once you’re absolutely certain that a room is clear, secure it properly.
    You’ll want to eliminate any chance of the cat re-entering without your knowledge!

Once 100% certain that the cat is not hiding in a nook at home, I suggest following these steps:

  1. If you have a cat flap, set it to incoming only.
  2. Make sure internal doors are closed.
    This will ensure that if they sneak in, they can’t wander off into other rooms and hide.
  3. Can you see into your neighbour’s garden?
    Without being intrusive, have a look to see if your furball has found a cosy spot to snooze in.
Image by Varun Kulkarni from Pixabay

What documentation will be useful for finding my cat?

Gather together useful information about:

  • your vet’s contact
    You should let your vet know that your cat is missing. They will let you know if your cat is brought in.
  • microchip
    If you don’t recall who your cat is microchipped with, Check a Chip identifies which database holds the registration for the microchip number.
  • pet insurance
    Some pet insurance will cover the cost of printing, a reward amount & advertising in the local paper for a missing pet.If you have insurance, you may like to check whether yours covers any of these.

How do I make a missing cat poster?

Ideally, you’ll be wanting to find a couple of photos that clearly show your cat and any distinguishing marks.
Please bear in mind that some people just can’t see subtle differences between cats.
False sightings not only affect you emotionally, but they waste valuable time.

To save you time, here’s a Adobe Acrobat template poster to download.
Just add the photos and amend the appropriate information.

Now it’s time to fire up the printer.
If you don’t have access to one, consider asking friends, local libraries and shops, the vet or pet stores.

Try to get your missing cat poster printed in colour, if you can.

Where should I put my missing cat posters?

Something worth considering is how far cats roam. According to the data collected from Secret Life of the Cat our feline friends don’t stray too far from the house:

‘A cautious cat may only ever venture 10 metres from their cat flap, but we found the average roaming distance is just 40-200 metres from home. Farm cats were the real adventurers, travelling up to a kilometre away to hunt, with males sometimes roaming three times further.’

Dr. Bradshaw, Secret Life of the Cat

With this is mind, and perhaps the help of a map, have a think about where you will need to concentrate your search.

If you have moved recently, you should expand your search to include your previous location if it is within a close distance. Ask your old neighbours to keep an eye out and secure your cat for you, if your cat is found and is easy to handle.

Posters on lampposts at eye-level, in the local area, are a starting point.

Original image by coombesy. Adapted by purrplex

How do I ask my neighbourhood for help finding my missing cat?

Cats love to trespass!

Speak to your neighbours
So, first things first, speak to your neighbours on either side, front/back.
Don’t forget to give them your number so they can contact you immediately if they spot the wanderer.

Of course, some neighbours can’t resist feeding visiting kitties… and our kitties can be a sucker for a second home.
So do prepare yourself, as this behaviour has a reputation for causing unwanted friction between neighbours.

Pop flyers through doors
If you can enlist a helper or two, do.

Ask local establishments to display your missing pet poster
Try shops, vets, pet stores, post offices, doctors’ surgeries, pubs and cafés.

Image by IRCat from Pixabay

Social media can help enormously.

Facebook
Assuming you have a facebook account, write a public post on your wall.

Ideally, your post will include your missing cat poster.

Then, search for relevant and active, local facebook groups and send a request to join. Once accepted, add your post. Again, don’t spend too long on it, but ensure too include all information and upload a few extra photos, if you have.

nb. If a facebook group is ‘private’, members will not be able to share your posts outside of the group, so give them a link to your public post on your wall.

Nextdoor: If you don’t know it already, Nextdoor, in their words is “the neighbourhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services.”

Being the cat-lover that I am, I always pay close attention to missing cat posts & have witnessed so much support from the local Nextdoor network. I suggest joining.

Who should I log my missing pet with?

I recommend logging your missing cat with online sites such as:
petlog.org.uk, animalsearchuk.co.uk and petsreunited.com

Not only are sites such as these handy for reporting a missing pet, but they are also useful for keeping an eye out for found pets.

Consider getting in contact with local:

  • vets
  • animal rehoming charities
  • council’s street cleaning team
  • police
  • paper (lost and found department)

How do I help my cat find its own way home?

Astonishing as it may seem, sometimes our feline family find themselves off the beaten track and in need of a little help working out where home is.

The majority of cats have a supreme sense of smell, so I suggest leaving the following outside, sheltered from rain:

  • some of their used litter
  • bedding that smells of them, you or both
  • something that smells of you – a worn item of clothing perhaps
  • contents of the vacuum cleaner
  • a favourite toy

Calmly call them and shake their treats, making sure to take time to listen. Searching at nighttime when the world is sleeping, can be beneficial.

My cat has come home, what should I do?

First and foremost, lock the catflap and gently check for any signs of injury. If your cat seems unhappy to you, perhaps they are feeling unwell or have been hurt. Call your veterinary surgery if you see any signs of trauma or illness.

If all is well, then make them feel at home with fresh food and water, clean litter and as many or few cuddles as they like… and don’t forget to be kind to yourself too!

How can I prevent my cat from going missing again?

  • Microchip
    First and foremost, get your moggy microchipped. Chipped cats have a much higher chance of being found.
  • Tracking device
    Although remember not to force a cat to wear something that distresses it.
    Tractive trackers have a great reputation.

    As their website shows that they only sell leather collars, I contacted Tractive to see if they had alternatives:

When we started selling the trackers with the collars we had a batch where the collars were real leather collars. But now we only have artificial leather collars in our shop.

Annabelle | Tractive Marketing Team | 17th Aug 2020
  • Collars are a bit of a Marmite topic.
    • One upside of cat collars is their usefulness in sharing contact details.
    • Another is showing neighbours that they are not theirs to adopt.
    • It’s critical however to use fast release collars to avoid strangulation.
  • Train your cat to the sound of a bell
    Clients of mine in London had the ingenious idea of ringing a small bell every cat meal time.
    Over time, the kittens associated the bell ringing with food and now, they run home whenever they hear it.

If your cat is a grazer and doesn’t have specific meal times, try treats instead.
You could try whistling instead of ringing a bell – this works with my cat Bliss

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