Finding a Lost Cat
The first thing to do is make sure the cat isn’t somewhere in your house or garden. Cats are very good at hiding, getting into small spaces & finding warm spots. Check under beds, duvets, throws, in/behind/on top of cupboards, in drawers, washing baskets, the washing machine & tumble dryer. Check cellars, attics, rooms rarely used & any new construction work.
If your cat is neutered the chances are they haven’t gone far & may be very close by, possibly in nearby back gardens, a shed or garage.
Put strong smelling food (pilchards, sardines, roast chicken without any bones) & water out for your cat at the same time morning & evening close to where they went missing or where there have been any recent sightings. Keep doing this even if you think other cats or foxes might be eating the food. Your cat will be hungry & will learn to get there first.
Put leaflets (including a photo or a clear description of your cat & a contact number) through the doors of all the houses & flats around your block or estate. Start locally & keep extending further out to adjoining & parallel streets, keeping a record of the area covered on a map (especially if you are working with a team of helpers).
Blitz your local area with posters, including vet practices, pet shops & animal charity shops, as well as outside schools, post offices, libraries, community centres, churches, on supermarket notice boards, outside cinemas, in windows of public houses, anywhere that people are likely to gather. Put posters up at bus stops & outside tube & train stations. Ask your local postman if he’s seen a cat fitting your cat’s description. Print with water resistant pigment ink & put in an upside-down pvc sleeve so the opening is at the bottom & does not let the rain in. After finding your cat, remove all posters, tape & staples, as this can cause local hostility to such advertising.
Knock on doors of houses around your block & in nearby streets, actually asking neighbours to check gardens, garages, sheds, outhouses & basements to see if your cat might be there.
Include on your poster/leaflet a request for people to look in sheds, outhouses, garages, gardens, under bushes, basement areas & adjacent/nearby empty buildings, as well as in shops. Please note it is not a good idea to advertise a reward as this can attract hoax & distressing phone calls from people pretending to have found your cat.
Call local vets, animal rescue centres (catchat.org is a good source for these), your local Cats Protection Branch (see cats.org.uk or call 03000 121212 for your nearest branch) & your local council’s animal warden service to see a cat fitting your cat’s description may have been reported as a stray or handed in.
Go out late at night & early in the morning, which is when cats are most active, shaking dried food or banging a tin with a spoon & calling your cat’s name but stand still while doing this as, if you walk around you will confuse your cat, who won’t know where you are. Cats sometimes pal up with other cats to find food & maybe even for feline companionship, so it’s always an idea to have a good look where cats congregate together or where stray or feral cats are being fed.
If your cat is microchipped, please call Petlog on 0844 4633 999, so they can check if your cat is listed in ‘found cat’ reports for your area. Their lines are open 24 hours a day throughout the year.
nextdoor.co.uk - which people use to post about local issues, is a good site for publicising information about lost cats.
animalsearchuk.co.uk - Animal Search UK maintains a national database of lost & found pets. You can register your missing cat for free on their website or by calling 01432 266 900
catchat.org - is a good source for some of the websites devoted to lost & found pets & Facebook groups focusing on pets in their local area.
Check lost & found sections in your local newspaper & even consider placing an advert there.
Keep an eye out for FOUND posters, as people who find cats often advertise this way.
When cats first go missing, they often hide for a couple of weeks before they start appearing. The important thing is not to give up hope. Keep putting up posters & extend the area you leaflet and make sure to keep putting out food and water. Cats are resilient animals & have been found months, even years after they first went missing.