Missing Cat Action Plan

We receive many phonecalls every day at the Shelter from worried people facing a situation any cat owner dreads – their cat has gone missing. Often people want advice on what things they should be doing to try and get their furry back. Based on our experiences we’ve compiled the following ‘action’ list which we hope might be of use in the event you ever find yourself in that most terrible of situations:

  • Act fast but don’t panic – cats are resourceful and curious, and some have a tendency to swan off for short periods of time only to swan back when they deem it time. Try and wait at least a few hours before taking action.
  • Check your house – sounds silly but could your cat have hidden behind a curtain, or gone under a wardrobe for a sleep? Are you having any building work done through which your cat might have got trapped somewhere? Have you been into your shed/garage and could Wee Purry have followed you?
  • Speak with your neighbours – take a photo of your cat with you and go door-to-door asking neighbours if they have seen your cat, and asking their permission to check their shed/garage/outbuildings. Leave your phone number in case they have a sighting.

Pick up the phone – get in touch with the following people:

  1. hopefully your cat is microchipped – call the database with which your cat is registered
  2. local vets (not just your own)
  3. local rescue centre
  4. local environmental health.
  • Get online – register your cat as missing on national and local lost and found registers and on the facebook pages of rescues and lost pets groups.
  • Make and distribute posters – and get as many copies made as possible. The poster should include a photo of your cat and a brief description; details of when and where you last saw him/her and your contact email/telephone number. Place posters:
  1. Through every door in your immediate area
  2. On lampposts, bus stops, post boxes, telephone boxes
  3. In local business windows, community notice boards
  4. Give a copy to your postman, milkman, window cleaner or other people who are regularly in your area.
  • Think like a cat – your cat might have strayed a wee bit too far and simply be unable to find their way home. Help them use their sense of smell. Make your home stand out for them by leaving ‘scented’ items outside, somewhere sheltered, for them. These might include his favourite toy, an item of your clothing, a bucket with the contents of your hoover, your cat’s litter tray.
  • Search, search, search – hit the street in your local area to search for your cat. A scared and lost cat is often easiest to spot and hear at night or early in the morning when the world is quieter – take someone with you for safety. Call for your cat and listen for any reply. Shake a box of his favourite biscuits. Take your time and give your cat a chance to find you if he hears your calls.
  • If your cat is an indoor cat who has escaped, it’s quite possible they haven’t gone far.  Often indoor cats “freeze” when they get outside, and hide very close to their home.  Check under bushes and behind bins thoroughly.  Try looking when it’s dark – a torch shined into dark bush will reflect off a hiding cats eyes.
  • Don’t give up! Cats are independent creatures and are usually able to find shelter and food when needed. It’s not uncommon for cats to be reunited with their owners many days, weeks and even months after they disappeared.

We hope you will never need to go through this action plan – however, most cat owners will have had a worrying afternoon or night at some point. The best thing you can do to put yourself and your cat in the best possible position should you ever be separated is to make sure your cat is microchipped – and to make sure you keep your chip contact details up to date! For a cost of usually less than £20, it could really make the difference to you being reunited with your missing furry friend, or them ending up in a rescue centre as a ‘stray’.