Finding a Lost Cat

Finding a lost cat can sometimes be easier said oops, written than done but when your cat is lost it is really important to take action right away. 

There is no time for hesitation or hoping that your cat will soon find its way back.  

The sooner the search is started, the better the chances of success. 

Cats are territorial animals, and for the first 1 or 2 days, they will not usually stray far into an alien environment, preferring to stay close to the safety of home.

lost cats

Your Cat is Lost and now you need to find it.

Where do lost Cats go?

A great question but if we knew the answer to that, then we wouldn’t need to search. Luckily, cats do not wander far from home and are often found within a few hours, close to where they are last seen.  But unfortunately, that is not always the case.

There can be many reasons why your cat wandered off and cannot find its way back home. Let us dive into more detail about finding a lost cat and getting it back home safely.


A long time ago, late 80s our cat who had already passed its 17th birthday did not come home, and I remember my father not only searching but also asking the neighbours if they had seen our cat. Unfortunately, that cat came never back.

Sadly, we imagine that the cat found a place to die but who knows, maybe it was something else. You might say, 17 years is a good age for a cat, which is true but still the thought of not being there for it was not a great feeling. This of course is now a long time ago, but still, it is something we talk about with others when they are missing their cat.

Start searching before it is too late.

Frightened Cats

A frightened or lost cat will hide in the first safe place it can find, and may stay there some days until it feels safe enough to emerge.  It has been known for cats to stay hidden in the local area for months, only emerging at nightfall.

Starting the search for the Lost Cat

Start the search near the place the cat has been lost, and work outwards to the furthest areas.  Open and carry a can of cat food, the sound and smell are a powerful attraction for a hungry cat.  Call the cat in a soft, calm voice. 

The cat is likely to feel frightened, and it is important not to show any signs of anxiety in your voice.  After each call, stop and listen for a response. 

Do not rush the search.  Move very slowly from place to place, calling the cat.  Tap the opened can of cat food with a spoon, and listen for the meow of the cat.

Favourite Cat Hiding Places

Possible hiding places are under cars, in bushes or trees, on roofs, inside sheds and garages, underdrain sewers and inside pipes and ducts.  If the weather is cold, the cat may be somewhere warm, such as behind a heating device, inside a heating duct or even a car’s engine.

A torch is ideal to search any dark places, and reflecting the shine of the cat’s eyes.

lost cat sign
lost cat sign

We Moved

If you have had a recent change of house, check to see if the cat has returned to the former home.  If you’ve moved some distance, ask your former neighbours to check if the cat has returned.  A cat which is new to the area may have been chased away by existing residents. 

Your Dog

If your cat has a trusted companion such as a dog, this may also be helpful to join in the search, as well as carrying a familiar toy.


If a daytime search has not worked, repeat the process after dark or around 7 pm.  By nightfall, a cat will start to feel hungry, and will also feel safer emerging from its hiding place.

Your neighbourhood

Place photographs of the lost cat all around the area, on walls, trees and bins.   If the cat has been lost for a few hours, speak to neighbours and ask them to check their sheds, garages and basements. 

Display flyers within a 1.6 km radius, and at vets’ clinics.  Offering a small reward will incentivise help from pedestrians and those who know the streets.

Consider the places where the cat may be trapped.  Construction sites often have pits, debris or equipment where cats become trapped.

Local Police and Animal Shelter

Notify the local police department and the local animal shelter.  Let them know your cat has been lost, take a photo, and give them all the relevant details.  If the shelter has many cats, it is advisable to revisit the information.

At your Home

Leave a baby monitor outside the back door. Keep the connected baby monitor device close to your bed, with the volume high enough to wake you up if your cat shows up and meows.

It may be possible to rent or borrow a cat trap from an animal shelter or purchase it from a pet food store.  Put some cat food in the trap and place it near the entrance to the home.  Check the cage every hour.


Implanting a microchip is a sensible practical precaution, that only needs to be done once in the cat’s lifetime. A veterinarian implants the microchip under the skin on the cat’s shoulder blades.

The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and contains the contact information of the owner.  It is important to keep the information up to date with the microchip supplier company and inform them of a change of address or telephone number. 

Most veterinarians and animal shelters will check if stray cats have a microchip when they are taken to their establishments.

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