Your Missing Cat May Be Closer to Home Than You Think
Spring is coming to an end and summertime is just beginning. Doors and windows are being opened to let in the fresh air and all of the beautiful summertime bird songs. It is a truly precious time of year in the northeast and with houses being more opened up also comes more opportunities for our beloved indoor feline friends to find their way outside.
We always receive the most communications about missing pet cats this time of year and normally the owners are calling to see if anyone has brought their cat to us. It is common for people to think that their cat has ventured far away when they go missing, but pet cats (especially those kept indoors) will often hide inside the home or near the home if they have found their way outside.
Kat Albrecht who runs the Missing Animal Response Network conducted a missing cat study with Jacquie Rand, a University of Queensland emeritus professor using an online questionnaire and found that “75 percent of the cats were found within 500 meters (about a third of a mile) of their point of escape. Eighteen percent were hiding directly outside an entrance to their home.” (Best Friends, n.d.)
This is something I have experienced a few times with my cat Pooch. The first time he went missing I found him within 100 feet of the house and second time he was actually in the house.
The first time when he went missing, we were living out in the middle of nowhere in Brookfield, VT and someone had left the door open. There was a blizzard that day and we were very concerned. I shoveled my way around the property and walked down the road about half a mile to a mile over and over again for hours calling to him with no luck. It was starting to get dark and I was starting to worry that something may have happened to him and I might not ever see him again.
I was walking back home and was exhausted, so I stopped in the road in front of the neighbor’s house to lean on the shovel for a minute when I heard it. It sounded like feeble little meow’s coming from the neighbor’s property. I kept listening and pinpointed the location of the sound. It was coming from underneath the neighbors wood shed. I went over to the wood shed to look underneath and there he was. He is normally a very vocal cat, but he was so scared not being accustomed to the outdoors that he was only making very quiet calls for help.
One of the first tips in the referenced Best Friends article is to “Ask neighbors for permission to search their property and try to expand your search three to five houses in either direction. Make sure to look inside their garages or any other structures where a cat could get trapped.” (Best Friends, n.d.). It is possible that your cat has either gotten itself stuck in someones garage by sneaking in when they did not notice and getting closed in, or they might just be terrified and found a good place to hide on a neighbor’s property like Pooch had done.
Someone contacted us a few weeks ago because their cat had gone missing. We shared some of the tips from the Best Friends article about locating missing pet cats and it helped this person find their cat. The cat had gotten trapped in a neighbors garage and they had found him by hearing faint meows coming from under the garage door. Not everyone lives in a place where it is quiet most of the time, so it could be an effective strategy to try and do a search at a time when it is more quiet, like the evening.
Another common theme for missing pet cats is when moving to a new home. This can be very stressful on a cat and make them hide at times when they normally would not. The second time I thought I had lost Pooch is a few years ago when I moved to St. Johnsbury. It was the day that we moved in and at the time the house was almost entirely empty other than a few things that had been brought the night before.
Early in the day I noticed that I could not find him anywhere which was not too surprising because new places make him very nervous (even for cat standards). But after looking over the house many many times I started to get more concerned. The house was almost entirely empty, so I was convinced he had gotten outside and I walked around outside calling to him for hours (I even called KAS to ask if they would look out for him).
It was the end of the day, the move was finally complete and it had been almost a full day with Pooch being missing. I was once again feeling like something may have happened to him and that I may not ever see him again. I walked to the bedroom feeling defeated, opened the door and there he was cuddled on the dog bed with my dog Booger.
I later figured out that he had gone into a weird cubbyhole that is in the back of an entertainment center (one of the very few things that was in the house the entire day). It was a spot not visible from the front, barely visible from the back and he is a dark grey cat so he was almost invisible there. I later figured this out when I watched him get into this spot during a thunderstorm.
Cats are so good at hiding that they can often find hiding places you would never think of, so a thorough search of the house is a good idea unless you know for a fact that your cat has made it outside. “Sometimes, they are still inside the house. A near-tragic example is the case of Bess, a two-year-old cat who disappeared one night from her family’s home. Bess remained missing until a few weeks later — when the family suddenly heard a faint “meow” coming from, of all things, a hinged window seat in the living room.” (Best Friends, n.d.).
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the importance of doing thorough searching for your cat because they may be far closer to home than you think, or even in your home. But other options are still worth trying in addition to your own search. These include contacting your local shelter, posting on Facebook and posting missing pet signs around the neighborhood.
If KAS happens to be your local shelter, then we are always happy to make a missing pet post for you on our Facebook page and website. For these posts, a photo and as much information as you can think of are helpful for people in the community to identify your pet (area missing from, age, sex, neutered/spayed, behavioral traits etc.).
We are also going to start sharing the referenced Best Friends article “How to Find a Lost Cat” with anyone reporting a missing cat. It has many great tips for locating your missing cat like asking your neighbors for permission to check their property and varying the time of day when you search. Please see the reference section below for the link.
Thank You for reading!
Caleb Stone, Board Member
If you have a missing cat and would like us to make a missing pet post for you, please message us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KingdomAnimalShelter) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to make a post for you. Here is some of the information we like to collect to help people identify your cat:
• Cats Name
• Area Missing
• Date Missing From
• Behavioral Traits
• Has the cat been spayed/neutered
• Contact Information
• Best Friends (n.d.), “How to Find a Lost Cat”, retrieved from https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/how-find-lost-cat on June 7th, 2021
Tips to finding a missing cat: https://www.kingdomanimalshelter.com/finding-a-lost-cat.html