By Anita Kelsey – London’s leading cat behaviour councillor
It’s a cat owners worst nightmare when their cat goes missing. Panic sets in and we feel that our little fur babies will just curl up and die without us. Well, the first thing we need to know is that cats are VERY good at surviving and will go into survival mode if lost. They will hunt for food and find a warm place to hunker down in. They may be MORE hungry when they are found and slimmer, ahem, but they will not be starving.
There are different things to consider when our mogs go walkies. Were they street savvy? Did they know the area? Are they male or female, Spayed, Neutered? Are they friendly or very nervous? All of these things matter and can determine how our lost cats will ACT. Sometimes a cat isn’t even lost. It has just gone exploring its territory. This can especially happen when a cat has moved in a new area and is finally let outside (after getting used to his main core territory within the home). If you are lucky enough to own a pet tracker such as Petpointer (available in the Katzenworld Blog Shop) for your cat the first course of action, of course, should be to check out your cats location! For those of us that are not that lucky yet read on for top tips on what to do!
First things first.
Lost cat advice – MY CAT KNOWS THE TERRITORY.
Male or female? Male cats tend to roam much further than females. Females tend to stay in the garden area plus one garden but do not roam much further. Male cats, on the other hand, will roam quite far. Most cats are spayed and neutered nowadays but if your male cat is not then expect him to be roaming far and wide looking for females to impregnate and to fight off other male cats. If your male cat is neutered he will still travel much further than a female. Free roaming cats can sometimes disappear for a few weeks and saunter back in as if nothing has happened, whilst you have been tearing your hair out with worry. So, don’t always assume your cat is lost! It is also VERY common for free roaming cats to have more than one home they visit meaning more than one feeder!! Talk to neighbours if you suspect this.
Lost cat advice – PERSONALITY OF CAT.
If your cat is friendly and chats/rubs legs with any passerby then they may be visiting other peoples homes for food. These types of cats are known in the area and are stroked by every passer by. If they got lost, for whatever reason, they would surely meow outside of a home with a light inside. They know how to get what they want and are not afraid of humans. Someone in the area will be feeding this cat and may even be letting the cat inside. Some people see cats without a collar and automatically assume it’s a stray cat. The cat meows and the person thinks they are crying for help and are lost. If a cat is found without a collar always check the National Pet Register to see if someone has lost this cat. Also, take the cat to the local vet to see if it has a microchip. If not, then register the cat found online at the national Pet register and in local shop windows etc.
Lost cat advice – TIMID CATS.
Timid cats don’t travel too far away from their home range. If they become lost they will hunker down in bushes or a shed. This type of behaviour is a survival mechanism that kicks in straight away. The same goes for a cat who does not know the territory. They will be hiding nearby where they became lost. Cats that go into survival mode become quite because they are frightened. This is why, sometimes, with owners calling out there names, they will still choose to remain silent. They will be able to hunt or scavenge but fear will keep them not roaming too far from a shed, or bin hole or any other quiet area to keep warm and hidden in.
This site is very helpful in highlighting how a cat will start to think when it becomes ‘displaced’ from an area it doesn’t know. It highlights the survival technique allowing cat owners to adapt how they are searching for their cat. Worst case scenarios can be lost from a vets office, home boarding or a cattery.
Lost cat advice – TRUE STORY
Titus, whilst being boarded in a home not his own, rushed for the front door in a freak accident. This was not in character for when he usually stayed. This happened October 2016. He was missing for 4 days. he didn’t know the area so hunkered down nearby. The cat boarder was out everyday at 5am searching for him. He was finally found this morning in nearby bushes. He kept quiet whilst being called for. Survival technique. He was scared.
Also read the book LOST CAT. It will give you hope. A true story and the cat was found. 😉
Here’s another success story from a lost kitten case that appeared hopeless. The kitten was found by the vigilant cat loving society. So, never give up. Even this little kitten was resilient ;-). Notice how the kitten was found near to the crash site where it was flung out of the car.
Lost cat advice – WORRIED ABOUT FOXES.
Don’t assume your cat is going to be attacked by foxes! Cat’s are fearsome predators too and a fox knows that too well. Read this article for some peace of mind: CATS AND FOXES
Lost cat advice – EXPENSIVE CAT BREED.
It’s rare for a cat to be stolen but it can happen. This is why cat’s should be micro-chipped whether they go outdoors or not. This way, anyone who obtains your cat, whether knowingly or not, will be detected when they go to a vets. Also check places like Gumtree Cats and Kittens For Sale on a daily basis. We cannot hide the fact their are some horrible people out there who will steal an expensive breed of pet for their own means. May sure you use Gumtree’s Lost and Missing Pets section to highlight your cat is missing.
Lost cat advice – DECEASED CAT.
If you are unlucky enough to find a deceased cat you must report it to the council or call your local vet. A vet, if the cat is close by, will come and collect the pet to scan it for a microchip. An owner will be worried sick about their cat and will appreciate being told what has happened to it, even if the news is extremely sad. The local council can also be rang to see if anyone reported a deceased cat to be collected.
Lost cat advice – IMPORTANT STEPS FOR CAT OWNERS.
** Many thanks to Catchat for their invaluable advice.
Action Point 1: CHECK around your home & garden:
Action Point 2 – ASK the Neighbours:
Action Point 3 – PHONE Calls to make:
(The sooner you report your cat missing, the more likely it is they will be found)
Action Point 4 – REGISTER your cat’s details as below:
|(Whilst registering your cat’s details, at the same time check any ‘cat found’ notices for your area)
Action Point 5 – POSTERS! Make up a “Lost Cat” Poster / Flyer with the following details:
|(If you have Pet Insurance check your policy; some cover the cost of advertising or a reward for a lost cat)
|Get plenty of copies made, and distribute as follows:
(NB: if you are under 18, please don’t distribute leaflets alone after dark, take an adult with you or go in the daytime)
Action Point 6 – AT HOME do the following:
Action Point 7 – SEARCH your area:
Action Point 8 – OTHER Suggestions:
|We strongly recommend that even indoor cats are microchipped. If your indoor cat goes missing, a different approach may be needed to find them, as they will not be as streetwise as a cat who has previously had access to the outdoors. There is some good advice to help you find a lost indoor cat on the Indoor Paws Website.
|Take Sensible Precautions: If someone calls saying they have found your cat, please do not go to see the cat on your own, particularly if you are under 18 years of age. Take an adult friend with you – and a cat carrier of course!Beware of Hoaxes and Scams: Be on your guard if you are asked to part with money for the return of your cat. Even if you are happy to offer a reward, NEVER hand over money until the cat is safely in your hands. (One scam reported to us even involved the request to arrange a money transfer – don’t be caught out!)
|Don’t give up hope! Cats can disappear for several days and sometimes weeks particularly in good weather, and turn up unharmed. We know of many cases where cats have been lost for weeks, and even months (and in very rare cases years!), but were eventually reunited with their humans. Cats are extremely resourceful and will find food, water and shelter in the most unlikely places.
People will often feed a ‘stray’ cat for some time before it occurs to them that he may just be ‘lost’. Microchipped cats are often reunited with their owners when finally the ‘stray’ is handed into a shelter or has to see a vet.Sadly, still far too many cats found as ‘strays’ are not microchipped. Microchips are tiny, but they make a big difference to whether a lost cat finds it’s way home or not.
|After you’ve made a big fuss of him/her and given them their favourite dinner, please inform any authorities who have been asked to look for them, and retrieve the posters you distributed round town! And don’t forget if you want peace of mind… get a pet tracker which will enable you to keep on top of the whereabouts of your cat at any time! When choosing a pet tracker it’s important to pick one that is not too heavy or bulky and of course allows you to track your cat from anywhere! One such pet tracker is the Petpointer which weighs a mere 28grams and allows you to track your cats’ location from anywhere in the world via their site or a handy mobile app. Being an active gps tracker a monthly mobile data subscription is required but that is a small price to pay for the peace of mind they offer! These are available in Switzerland via STMZ’s online shop or here in the UK via Katzenworld.
FOUND A CAT? – Here’s what to do…
|If the cat will let you approach him, make up a paper collar with a note on saying: “If this is your cat please call this number…”, so that you can ascertain whether the cat is definitely lost or a stray. Place it round the cat’s neck and secure the two ends with a small piece of seloptape (don’t put selotape right round the whole thing as that can be dangerous if the cat gets caught up anywhere). If no-one calls in 24 – 36 hours you can be fairly sure it is lost or stray, then proceed as follows
Check National and Regional Lost & Found resources for corresponding ‘cat lost’ notices, as below:
* Advice from http://www.catchat.org/ which is a site full of amazing information for cat owners.
If I can be of any further assistance please do drop me a line at email@example.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. Middlesex University also awarded Anita the Gerry Fowler Prize for achievement in recognition of her work and final result.
Anita is also a specialist mobile cat groomer who works closely with vets on aggressive or phobic cats. She writes for Your Cat magazine and is on their experts panel for cat grooming. Visit http://www.catbehaviourist.com.