What to do if your cat is lost

1) Not all missing cats are lost or want to be found. Cats are notorious for hiding in impossible places. Before you assume your cat is missing, make a thorough search indoors, around the porch, garage and garden armed with a torch and the tastiest, smelliest treats. The odds are greatly improved by having a microchip [link] and wearing a collar and tag.

2) Don’t waste time. If you know your cat is missing, grab your phone with a photo of your cat, torch and treats and head out. Try to be calm and think like a cat. If you were a cat where would you go? Begin around your house and spread out to the immediate neighbours on all sides. Where does your cat normally head? What is the most likely escape route? What are their favourite bushes or hiding spots? Crouch low under porches, scan high on roof lines and tree branches.

3) While you’re searching, ask pedestrians, knock on neighbour’s doors and show the photo. Ask if you can check their garage, sheds, under the porch. This is no time to be shy. To save time, multi-task during the search: leave a missing cat report with your vet, Animal Control, all the other local vets, shelters and rescue groups.

4) When you return home, leave food and water outside your door. Fearful cats will often slink out after dark. Local TNR rescue rescues will often lend a trap. Using their suggestions, set up a trap. Be prepared, you may trap a possum or other cat. Go outside one last time to check and call your cat’s name before bedtime.

5) Make a missing cat poster. It doesn’t have to be fancy but make sure the words “Lost Cat” are large enough to be visible from a passing vehicle or pedestrian. Choose or crop a large close-up photo of your cat showing details of the face and another photo showing the entire body, ideally standing up.  If you’re not computer savvy, you can glue a photo on a piece of paper and use a marker to write the text by hand. Colour photos are preferable especially if your cat has a unique colour or markings. Include: your cat’s name, description, any special identifying marks or collar, when last seen and where, your phone number and amount of reward if you are offering one.

6) Post a missing cat report on your local community Facebook page. Other online sites to use are:

  • Lost Pet Finders - https://lostpetfinders.co.nz/
  • Lostpet.co.nz - http://www.lostpet.co.nz/
  • New Zealand Lost Pet Register NZLPR - https://www.facebook.com/NZlostpets/
  • Trade Me Lost & Found Pets (it’s free) - https://www.trademe.co.nz/pets-animals/lost-found
  • Neighbourly - https://www.neighbourly.co.nz/

7) If you’ve recently moved, extend your search to your old address.

8) Persevere! Cats have returned weeks and months later. Keep networking and asking neighbours if they’ve noticed anything. Keep your flyers or posters fresh with a “Still Missing” header.

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