The Hervey Foundation for Cats

12 Tips for Finding a Lost Cat

12 Tips for Finding a Lost Cat

Cats are curious creatures, and their nature drives them to explore new places. Watching humans use the exterior doors of a house can drive that curiosity into overload and compel them to run past your feet, jump out an open window, or claw through a screen. 


If your cat isn’t used to being outside, their sudden disappearance may have you stressed out, but there is some good news. Cats are creatures of habit and they are also very intelligent. They remember sounds and places very well and there are some easy ways to bring them back home after a great escape has taken place!

Make sure it’s not hiding

Cats love to find new places even inside your own home. Before you assume they are missing, make sure you check around your home well. Be thorough. Sometimes cats will jump behind a pile of storage bins to find a new hiding place, climb under a blanket, or hang out behind a couch. Make sure you’ve exhausted all your options in the home before you confirm they are outside.

Shake treats

Cats love treats and will often automatically run over to you when you shake a bag of treats in their vicinity. If your cat is outside, walking around the neighbourhood with treats is a good way to bring them back home!

Open cat food tins

Similarly, to the shaking of a treats bag, opening a tin of cat food is another trigger noise for cats. Their brains instantly believe it is supper time and, in your case, hopefully, they come running home.

Put water and food in a box near your house

If your search isn’t panning out, that’s okay! Cats have incredible homing instincts and sometimes putting a box out front of your home with a bit of food and water can be just what they needed. With the ability to smell food from great distances, your cat may smell the meal and make its way over to it. 

Check nearby trees

Cats are great climbers, but they can easily get in over their heads. If your cat is missing, make sure you look around the trees in the surrounding area to ensure they haven’t climbed halfway up and are now sitting on a branch or hanging onto the bark – like Garfield on a screen door.

Go door-to-door and check yards

Cats like to roam, but not often do they roam outside of their established territory – which is normally within a block of their own home. They are smart animals and don’t like to venture out too far given the chance of not seeing food or water for a long time. Make your way door-to-door and kindly ask your neighbours if you can look in their backyard for your kitty. 

Call shelters, vet clinics, and animal control

These are all places a lost cat can end up in if someone comes across them and are worried they are missing. Give the corresponding places in your city a call and find out if any animals have been brought in and if yours is one of them.

Post online 

There are numerous groups on social media where residents band together to keep an eye out for missing pets. Check out Facebook and Twitter for groups where you can join to help out too! You never know if your animal will go missing and one day the group will help you find them.

Make flyers

An old school method, but one that has proven to work, is flyers. Print up a bunch of flyers with pictures of your cat and your phone number and/or email address. This helps as people outside will see the pictures and already be in a position to keep an eye out for you.

Set humane traps

There are such things as humane traps. Structures you can set up with food to lure your cat back home. Not all traps are made the same and you need to be ABSOLUTELY sure the one you purchase is humane. If you love your cat, you don’t want to hurt them or traumatize them. 

Search outside after dark

If your cat gets overwhelmed by the outside world, it may take shelter in a place until it feels safe enough to come out. This might be nighttime – when the world is asleep and there are fewer cars on the road. When things get dark, grab your treat bag and walk around the block giving it a shake. 

Stay positive

What is important here is to remember your cat is a cat… and not a human. Unlike a human child, cats will not run in one direction until they don’t recognize anything anymore. Cats are careful, they take note of their surroundings with great detail and will often leave a scent trail marking their path back home. If you don’t find your cat immediately, they may just show up in the morning rubbing their face on the front door.