Lost and Found
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAT IS MISSING:
- Firstly, check your own home, garden, and the immediate vicinity THOROUGHLY. Cats seldom stray far, but some of them have a positive genius for getting shut in sheds, garages, cars, greenhouses. Check also any standing water-butts, ponds or similiar.
- Check under all bushes, decking and in gardens, using a long stick and a torch if necessary. Knock on neighbours doors and ask them to check sheds/garages/outhouses WHILE YOU WAIT in case your cat has got shut in (cats are incredibly inquisitive!). Ask neighbours to prop open doors so if your cat is scared and hiding s/he doesn't miss the opportunity to get out if the door is only opened briefly.
- Your cat recognises the smell of home. Spread hoover contents around the outside of your house. Put your cat’s bedding and dirty litter try outside too. Hang dirty washing on your line, put smelly trainers in your garden. Anything that smells familiar will help guide your cat home if s/he has lost their scent.
- Go out looking at night to check, when it is quiet and there is less traffic. Work your way back towards home as you call them, so as not to inadvertently lead them further away from home. Take a powerful torch. Scatter used cat litter outside and leave out food. If possible, make sure there is a way for your cat to get back in the house even if you are asleep (eg, wedge open the cat flap).
- Next check all the surrounding streets, again checking under bushes and in undergrowth. If there are fields/woods nearby, thoroughly search these too. Check any empty houses as cats can get through the smallest of spaces.
- KEEP doing all these things as, when scared, cats go into survival mode and may not even respond to their owner at first.
- Make posters/fliers and put them up anywhere and everywhere (e.g. stuck to telegraph poles and similar). Stick one in the back window of your car. Local shops, post office, pub, local primary schools (small children are incredibly observant), anywhere really. Ask local vets to display a copy. Speak to the local postman and dog walkers to ask them to TELL you if they see your cat. Consider printing off enough fliers to put them through people’s letterboxes down your street and in the area. Not everybody is on social media. If there are any distinctive physical conditions or characteristics about your cat, make sure you feature them prominently in any fliers, online appeals,etc.
- Alert all vets in the area and give them a description of your cat. Ask local vets to display a poster of your missing cat. Even if your cat is chipped, not all vets routine scan for a chip!!! Ring the RSPCA and any rescue charities in the area, as any of these places may end up with your cat so best to give them a description too.
- See if the local paper runs free lost and found pets ads. Check the found and make sure your pet is listed as lost. Again, not everybody is on Facebook.
- Use Facebook (set to public and tag yourself in your kitty’s photo so you can follow up any leads from subsequent shares) to share your missing cat. It is ESSENTIAL to include a clear photo, colour/breed/distinguishing features, where s/he has gone missing from (road, district, town and county) and when your cat was last seen. Say if your cat is chipped and neutered or not. Ask people to share/retweet. Share your cat to any local lost and found pets pages, on national lost cat pages, on the Facebook pages of any local cat rescue groups, on local vets and larger community groups. The bigger the audience of the groups you share to the better. Always include your post code and a mobile contact number. Ask everyone to share. If you are not on social media, ask a family member or friendly neighbour to do this for you. KEEP DOING THIS at weekly intervals, to maximise the number of people who see your posts and to make sure that your cat stays in people’s memories.
- Follow up any and every lead you get until you have absolutely discounted 100% that this is your cat. Remember that people can be unobservant and quite capable of identifying a tom as a queen and vice versa.
- Contact all the local vets by phone to see if your cat has been brought in injured. KEEP DOING THIS at weekly intervals, as you may not speak to the same person every time, plus your cat may have been brought in the day after you phoned the last time.
- Contact all the local cat rescues by phone to see if your cat has been brought in injured. KEEP DOING THIS at weekly intervals, as you may not speak to the same person every time, plus your cat may have been brought in the day after you phoned the last time.
- If your cat is chipped, contact the chip company to ensure they have your correct and up to date contact details, especially your telephone numbers. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Alert the chip company that he's missing, put your cat on Animal Search and Missing Pet Register - both are national online lost & found pet databases and are both free.
- After a few days, contact the cleansing department of your local council. They often keep a record of when the street cleaning services pick up deceased animals in the road. While this may not give you the answer that you want, if they have no record, that is hopeful, and if the worst comes to the worst, at least you will finally know what happened.
- Also check local re-homing and rescue sites in case your cat has been found and is now being offered for re-homing.
- If your cat is pedigree (or looks like one!!), check Gumtree and other ‘free’ selling sites just in case your cat has been stolen.
- As a last resort, consider offering a reward, but make sure if you do that you set out the conditions under which it will be paid very clearly. The last thing you need is to get into some sort of Mexican standoff with a person who has found your cat and thinks they can con an extra £100 out of you over and above what you have offered before they will give you any info. Also be aware that there are people out there who will attempt to lie about having found your cat in order to claim reward money.
- Finally, keep a record of everywhere you have advertised your cat so that you can take down posters and update all social media posts with the good news. If your cat wasn’t chipped and neutered, please do both when they return home. If you live in a SE London postcode, call us on 020 8853 8666 and we can send you a voucher to cover the full cost of neutering at any vets. We may also be able to offer free microchipping.
This article was written by Louise Davies of the South East London Lost Found Pets Greenwich/Woolwich/Lewisham and Areas Facebook group. We would like to thank Louise for kindly giving us permission to reproduce this information.
Search first. Check small spaces – everywhere from cosy cupboards to garden sheds
If your cat is microchipped, talk to Petlog on 0844 4633 999 to register your cat missing
Contact all vet practices in the area
Make and put up flyers in the local area
Use social media! Post a picture and description of your cat on your own Facebook page as well as the page of your local Facebook group
Ask your neighbours if they recognise the cat – there might be someone searching for their lost pet
If the cat is sick or injured, call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 (UK), USPCA on 028 3025 1000 (NI) or SSPCA on 03000 999 999 (Scotland)
Check the cat for identification. Take it to your local vet clinic to be scanned for a microchip
Check local newspapers and Facebook community groups to see if the cat has been listed as missing