How to Find Your Lost Kitty

No matter how much your indoor kitty feels loved at home, most yearn to escape outside and will jump at the chance given an opportunity. If you have any doubt about this, you’ll find out fast when you accidentally leave a window or door open. As a cat parent myself, my heart goes out to people I see in my neighborhood putting up flyers hoping to find their lost cat. 

I’d like to offer some tips I learned volunteering for a local animal rescue organization on what you can do to find your cat if he/she should get out: 

1. Start Searching Nearby

When lost dogs are found they can be miles away, but cats tend to stay close to home once they find themselves outside. They may have gotten the courage to escape out the door, only to suddenly realize how frightened they are. If it’s their first or second time getting out, they will likely play it safe by hiding nearby. Start looking on your property behind potted plants, in the bushes, on the patio, and under your car if its parked in the driveway. You might even want to look up in the trees because cats are very good climbers. 

Do not give up. If he/she doesn’t turn up during the day, keep your search going at night. In the meantime, open your blinds and turn on your interior and exterior lights, so if he/she is trying to find their way home, this will help. Cats are nocturnal animals, but this doesn’t mean they won’t get nervous trying to find their way home at night. Carry a flashlight so you can see better. Hopefully, your cat will see you and meow or at least stay still until you find him/her. 

2. Lure Your Cat with a Familiar Scent

Cats have a very keen sense of smell, so it could be very helpful to place their cat bed, pillows, and blankets outside on your front porch, the patio and around the yard to lure him/her home. Some people have been successful luring their cat with the scent of their litter box. We all know how fussy cats are about where they do their business, and this could be just the smell that gets him/her to come back home.  

And we can’t discount the power of a fresh can of cat food or tuna. While searching outside it would behoove you to carry an open can of their favorite wet food or tuna. You can also shake a bag of treats and the sound of this might work if he/she is hiding close to the house. A word of caution: the scent might also attract someone else’s cat or even a squirrel or some other critter (hopefully not a skunk!). 

3. Inform Neighbors

If you don’t have any luck on your initial search close to home, you need to reach out right away to spread the word. Use every tool at your disposal, including social media. But what you might find most helpful is the NextDoor app so your neighbors can be on the lookout for your missing cat. Make sure you include a recent picture of your kitty, so people know exactly what he/she looks like. In addition, print out a stack of flyers with the photo and your phone number, and post them all over your neighborhood. 

4. Try a Humane Animal Trap

No one likes the idea of trapping their cat but setting a humane animal trap may be exactly what you need to do to lure him/her back home. These are used frequently to trap feral cats in order to get them spayed and neutered. Your local Humane Society may be willing to lend or rent you one. They are completely safe and easy to use and the food left inside is what will entice your kitty to come inside.  

5. Check Your Local Shelters

I don’t mean to scare you, but if a day goes by and your cat still hasn’t turned up, you would be smart to visit your local animal shelters. A phone call is not likely to help, you need to actually go there in person because they get way too many pets to check for one lost cat. Go every day and take a photo with you so you can prove you are the owner. Keep going as many shelters only have enough space to keep a pet for a few days before putting it up for adoption. 


It goes without saying that doing everything you can to prevent your cat from getting out is always best. Make sure your windows and doors have the mechanisms that automatically make them close immediately. To even be safer, make sure they are all screened. Cats can be very sneaky and quick, so I can’t emphasize this enough. 

To bring your stress level down, keep a collar on your kitty with an ID tag with your phone number engraved on it. You may also want to go the extra mile and have your cat microchipped. That way, anyone who finds your cat and decides to keep it will discover on their first visit to the vet that you are the real owner. The vet will then call you to come pick up your cat. 

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