12 Things To Do If Your Pet Goes Missing (Besides Panicking!)

Denise Lessard
Authored by Denyse Lessard
Denyse is an in Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy, and the formulator behind most of Zumalka's natural health products for pets.

Believe it or not, my sister and I both lost our cats in the same week or so! What were the odds? Anyway, we were devastated. We both love our cats so much that we were ready to go to great lengths to find them!

If that ever happens to you, here are a few tips on how to find a lost cat (or dog or some other animals that you may have) based on our recent—traumatic—experience. Besides walking you through the things you should keep in mind when this happens, we've also got a few other useful bits and pieces that you're sure to appreciate.

I'd just like to emphasize that I will focus my discussion on what to do when your cat is missing since our recent experience is the inspiration for this blog post. How about we start with something a lot of cat parents seem to overlook?


Don't Ignore the Fact That Your Pet Can Go Missing

Woman petting her cat.

While this may sound surprising, one in every three pets will become lost at some point in his life. This has already happened to many cats and dogs (not to mention other domesticated animals) in and around the United States.

And what makes the whole thing even more alarming is that there is a big possibility that your animal family member could become a lost pet, too. Sure you may think that this won't happen to you, but there are so many lost and found pets almost everywhere than you can imagine.

Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly think, "getting lost" isn't just something that happens to an indoor-only cat or mostly indoor cats. This can happen to outdoor cats, too! Although not all cats get lost during their lifetime, it can unexpectedly happen to your feline best friend.

Mind you, while I am not saying that it's easy to find a lost cat, I'm not saying that it's impossible either. The message I am trying to send across is that there are simple and practical strategies to boost your chances of success in this situation.


A Missing Pet Needs Immediate Yet Level-Headed Action

Woman panicking.

Perhaps the most straightforward thing to do to help raise your chances of easily finding your cat should he stray is by making him wear an ID tag or collar. It should contain all the information needed when he gets lost.

Apart from displaying pertinent contact details like your name, mobile or telephone number, as well as email address, it's also smart to add your social media account name like on Facebook or Pinterest. Moreover, having your cat injected with a microchip can help a lot, too.

You can simply alert the microchip company that your cat is nowhere to be found and a search will be conducted. We'll expound on this one as we go along. There's no need to worry if you skip these steps and your pet becomes missing. Here are the things that you should do:


1) Don’t give in to panic (this is the worst thing you can do when you have a lost cat or dog).

I know this sounds easier than done, but you cannot act quickly and efficiently if you give in to panic right from the start. You LOVE your pet, we know, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by emotions when you see his favorite basket or blanket empty and he's nowhere to be seen.

Sure you may feel really helpless when you make such a discovery, but many cat parents who once lost their kitties found them. It’s not unusual to find stray animals, so keep the faith. He might come back on his own but don’t wait too long before you take appropriate action, specifically a thorough search.


2) Spread the word that you have a missing cat or dog or some other type of pet.

The more people who are aware you lost your pet, the better. Start by announcing in your immediate area or neighborhood that your cat is missing. Talk to your friends and family members. Knock on your neighbor's doors. Make sure you ask around. You can also make posters with a recent picture (it must be a clear photo, too) of your lost cat and a short description of him.

Additionally, you can hand out pamphlets in public places like grocery stores. Show a photo of your cat on your phone or tablet to people you meet on the street. Ask for help from local community centers. You can also place an ad in the local newspaper or online. Anything you can imagine to really pull off the happy reunion you've been waiting for!

(And no matter what you do, please refrain from contacting your fire department like you see on TV. They have more pressing tasks to take care of and you might be hindering them from responding to an actual emergency.)

The fact that I sounded so desperate in my search when talking to EACH ONE of my neighbors probably contributed to their being ready to help me and promising to call me if they saw my cat. Interestingly, it's not uncommon for some cat parents to actively join you in your search.


3) Start searching immediately.

Time is of the essence when you are looking for a missing cat. The first place to have an actual physical search is your local community. A lost cat will typically hide in a local area that he is quite familiar with. He may just be lying low someplace, too. Bringing along a clear recent photo of your cat (and his favorite food) will help a lot.

However, it is important to remember that other cats can end up in unfamiliar places, too, particularly when their families have just recently moved to a new house. Keep in mind to begin your search as soon as possible and not after a few hours.

You won't believe the distance most cats can cover if they feel scared and afraid. A frightened animal will typically keep on moving. This is the biggest reason why your search for your missing cat should start as soon as possible.


4) Call veterinary clinics and your local animal shelter.

Man working.

Many people who discover a found pet usually have the intuition to take him to a nearby vet or a local shelter. Unless they can get useful details from the cat's collar or ID tag. Just to emphasize, animal shelters and rescues will be empty if there are no lost cats or dogs.

I highly recommend contacting the local shelters in your area when your cat goes missing. The same goes for local animal rescues in your vicinity. You can also use this time to browse pet websites that usually have a "found section" or page.


5) Be organized in your search.

If you comb the neighborhood, try to go systematically from one area to another. While your cat can be practically anywhere, try to focus on key places that you believe he might be in. Be methodical. Missing cats often prefer easy hiding areas like shacks, narrow alleys, bushes, abandoned houses, and even garbage bins, possibly to look for food scraps or leftover treats.


6) Walk around and call him by name (missing cats and dogs usually respond).

A lost cat is usually a scared cat. Use a gentle voice to persuade a missing cat home. Your kitty might recognize your voice and get closer to you. Keep calling him and listen carefully. Cats are extremely cautious. Your cat will just hide if he feels threatened or scared.

Cats tend to be a bit cautious so make it a point to call him in a persistent manner. However, this should always be as gentle as possible to coax him out of hiding. Remember that his faint meows or barks might be hard to hear from behind a window or near a busy street.


7) Don’t chase your animal.

A lost pet may be scared and wild even if he used to be the nicest little kitty in your living room. So if you catch sight of him, don’t chase after him. You’ll scare him away for sure. Sit down, keep calling him, speak in a way that is reassuring, and wait.

It may take some time, but your pet WILL gradually get closer to you. A cat lost is still your feline best friend! Bringing food or treats along can help a lot. A cat's instinct is to run and hide when he feels scared or spooked. Patience is definitely a virtue in this situation.


8) Set a trap.

Using a trap may be resorted to when a lost cat is hesitant to come back home.If you know he’s in the neighborhood somewhere, but you can’t get him to come closer to you, you can try setting a trap to bring him home. Ask your veterinary clinic, local animal control or animal shelters about renting one and setting it up properly and safely.

Whether it's a few hours or a few days since he escaped from your house, a cat lost (especially indoor cats) may be a bit feisty, so be very careful when you do this. A cat's instinct is to get free, so make sure you're ready. Using his favorite food as bait is a smart strategy.


9) Maximize your social media accounts.

You can boost your chances of finding a lost cat when you spread the word using social media. You can share the situation with your friends on Facebook and similar platforms. One very important detail you should remember is to provide as many contact details as you can. This to get the best reach possible.


10) Be very cautious of scammers.

When it comes to lost cats, there is always the possibility that a scammer or two will contact you to make a quick buck. They will usually claim that they have your missing cat or dog. However, they won't give you your kitty or pooch unless you give them a monetary reward.


11) Use online resources that may help give you leads.

There are actually websites that have databases of missing cats. You just have to key in "lost cat database" in your search bar and several results will appear. As I've pointed out earlier, they usually have a "found section" where missing felines are featured.


12) Never give up.

Men shaking hands.

Sure you may feel frustrated but keep on going! Continue dropping by vet clinics or animal control, shelter as well as rescues. Your kitty might just be hiding somewhere nearby. If not, he might just be feeling a bit disoriented to come out of hiding yet. And you better have his favorite food, too!

Well, I literally combed the neighborhood and annoyed all my neighbors. Among them, however, a nice lady steered my search in the right direction. I ended up looking for him in the nearby schoolyard since the last sighting of him had been there a few days beforehand.

I was on the third floor and as I kept calling him, I heard a little meow from behind the window of... the science lab! Told you my cat was intelligent!

Have you ever lost your pet? Was he found? Please share your experiences, thoughts, and tips with us.


About the author

Denise Lessard
Denise Lessard


Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Seeking a Natural Solution for Your Pet's Health?

We are here to listen and guide you. We're dedicated to supporting your pet's well-being naturally. Contact us to explore how we can help together!