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for Cat Owners who've lost their pets. If you're considering
contacting a "pet psychic", this is pretty much what they'll tell you.
How your cat will behave while lost depends
greatly on whether or not it had been accustomed to being outside.
Cats who regularly go outdoors have an area
around your home that they tend to consider their territory. Often the cat has a
specific route that it takes while patrolling this space. Cats can become lost
if they are chased outside of their familiar territory. They aren't paying
attention to where they are going and then don't know how to get home. Animals
that have not been spayed or neutered are naturally more inclined to wander.
Just one more reason it is important to alter your pet. Cats that have been
outside regularly are more likely to be seen by people, especially at dawn and
dusk. Putting up posters is particularly important. If there has been a
suspected sighting go there quickly to search and ask if you can set out food
and water or even a trap. Ask your neighbors if you can check their shed or
garage. A happily exploring cat can become a trapped and lost cat when that door
is shut. Find out if anyone in the neighborhood regularly feeds their own
animals outside. Ask local shelters and vets if they know of any feral cat
colonies in your area. Some of these colonies are cared for by volunteers who
feed them daily and may notice a new cat.
Cats that have never been outside are going to
be overwhelmed and terrified. They
will not adjust in a few days. It is quite likely they will not travel far,
They may hide in the first safe place they find and stay there. Go door
to door and ask your neighbors if you may look around their property. Don't just
walk through their yard calling your cat, it probably is too afraid to come to
you. Listen for faint meows, but remember it is a cat's instinct to be silent
when it is fearful. Actually look in sheds and garages, checking behind boxes,
in all the corners etc. Look under porches. Think about where your cat likes to
hide when it is afraid at home. Under the bed? In the closet? More than likely
it is a small, even cramped, dark space. Does it usually come out when you call
it? Probably not until it is no longer afraid. As long as your indoor cat is
lost it will be afraid. You actually have to find it. Don't assume your cat
won't hide somewhere strange, check every dark nook and cranny, no matter how
small. Leave fliers with your neighbors reminding them how easily a cat can
become trapped by a simple closed door. The good news is that a scared cat lacks
it's usual curiosity and is somewhat less likely to get it's self into further
trouble. Trapping can be especially effective with indoor-only cats
Look up into the trees as you search. While the
trees have leaves, go out at dusk and shine a flashlight up into the branches
and watch for the reflection from eyes. Not only are cats more likely to be
active at dusk, but a pair of glowing eyes in the beam of your flashlight may be
easier to see than the animal would be in full light.
If you are making an outdoor area familiar to
your cat with scent, you can sprinkle some litter from the cat's litter box
around the area in addition to using any fabric items that may have your and the
If you are getting repeated reports of a cat
that looks very similar to yours try to find it's owner. Ask if there are
specific times that their cat is outside. Ask if you can purchase a flourescent/bright
collar for their cat to wear so they can easily be told apart. If they agree,
make sure you buy a safety collar that will release if the cat becomes caught on
something. For less than ten dollars you can save yourself from repeatedly
"finding" the wrong cat over and over.
Don't forget to have a sturdy pet carrier with you at all times. Keep it in your car and move your car as you search or just carry it. When you find your cat you don't want to risk losing it again because you are trying to carry it home in your arms!
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