Realizing your cat is missing is a horrible, heart-wrenching feeling. A feeling of hopelessness may begin to creep in, but don’t give up. Like all living creatures, cats prioritize food, water, and warmth, and know your home is the provider. These tips will help you approach the situation calmly and systematically.

Double-Check Your House

If you’re confident your cat has definitely left the premises, skip this step. But if you’re in the early stages of thinking, “Hey, I haven’t seen Mittens in a while…” I would still recommend thoroughly checking your home. Shake a bag of treats and call for them. Common places a cat might retreat to are warm and dark, including:

  • Under the bed
  • Inside cardboard and shoe boxes
  • Under and often inside furniture 
  • Behind curtains
  • Behind warm appliances
  • Inside suitcases, gym bags, backpacks
  • In the corners of closets

Cute grey small cat in cardboard box

Most cat owners know of the typical spots their kitty likes to hide. However, in the case of a fright like a dog encounter, the vacuum, a loud bang, or a stepped-on tail, a cat may feel the need to escape suddenly and might pick an unorthodox spot. If a ‘scary’ event has recently taken place in your house, this might be the culprit.

Scout The Neighbourhood

Cats like to stay close to home, especially if your kitty is typically indoors and has limited experience with the outdoors. A recent study reported that most found cats are discovered less than 500 meters away from the home. Check your garden, under your deck, in the shed, garage, under cars or any other hidey-hole they might find a warm and safe refuge. Every time my cat escaped, we found her hiding in our woodpile. 

Rope in your immediate neighbours if you can, and ask them to check their sheds and porches as well. If you belong to a homeowner’s association, use NextDoor, have a group chat etc.…  post recent photos and information so neighbours can keep an eye out. Being in an unfamiliar place with strange sights and sounds is likely quite scary for your cat, so

remember that even a very responsive pet might not respond to calls at first. Many stay put during the day and venture out at night, so we recommend shaking a bag of treats around as soon as it gets dark. 

Make Them Famous

Get out there and spread the word! Not only could someone have seen your cat and not known to report it, but often people take in a clearly lost pet and hand them over to shelters. Here are some Free Missing Cat Poster templates that you can customize for your kitty. It’s best to use big fonts and bright colours if you can to catch the attention of passersby. 

If you use social media, make a Facebook and/or Instagram post with a clear photo of your cat and the likely area/crossroads it’s sticking around, and kindly ask friends to share the post. Detail their behaviour, temperament, and a suggestion on what to do next – perhaps your kitty is notoriously shy, and friends should call you and avoid to find a lost cat

Lure Them In 

With an inundation of new smells, your cat may lose the trail back to your house. Strengthen the scent by placing their food, water, their litter box, toys, and their bed or blanket near your door. 

You can even use a humane trap stocked with fragrant food, bought or borrowed from a local rescue organization or shelter, to catch them. Be aware that other wildlife may take the bait and need to be released. 

Investing in a wildlife camera to monitor the area may show that your cat is returning to your house for food and water during the night, and how to catch them next time they do. 

Start Dialing

Fairly promptly, you’ll want to call the local authority. 

  • Shelters
  • Animal welfare organizations
  • Animal control
  • Veterinarian offices 

A cat who is clearly a pet can be brought into shelters or to local organizations, who often only have 72 hour hold policies. Make sure they are aware of your kitty and know to contact you with any new intakes matching their description. If, God forbid, your cat has gotten injured, a good samaritan may have brought them to a veterinary clinic.

If your cat has a microchip, alert your provider company to make sure your contact information is up-to-date and to flag them as missing. 

For Those In Vancouver

A couple Vancouver-specific avenues include:

  • Making a Craigslist post. The City of Vancouver says on their Lost Pets page that their staff checks these posts regularly. 
  • Posting to a Vancouver or BC centric missing pets page on Facebook like this one, or this one

Sleeping cute brown tabby cat. Tabby cat lying outdoor. Gray street striped kitten outside

Home Free

All going well, your sweet kitty will return safe and sound to its rightful place (near the heater in your bedroom). However, it’s still recommended to check in with a vet after an escape ordeal. Potential fleas and ticks, bites, cuts, ingestion of dangerous substances should all be examined so you can be sure of your cat’s enduring health. Take a look at Pep & Pup’s list of Symptoms in Cats that Require Medical Attention and monitor your kitty for a period after.