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Your Indoor Cat is Missing 

                                                                     Here is advice from the experts…

Search Your Home and alert neighbors. 

One of the quickest ways to let your neighbors know your cat is missing is through Nextdoor, a neighborhood online forum where you can post a photo of your missing cat and your contact information. If someone in your neighborhood finds your cat, they can scan the lost pet listings to find you or they can create a post that they’ve found a lost cat. (I recently rescued a frantic dog on the loose in my neighborhood and through postings on Nextdoor, the dog and his owner were happily reunited within a couple hours).

In addition to Nextdoor, some other places that typically allow listings of lost pets include:

  • Facebook neighborhood or lost-pet groups (find one near you)

  • Craigslist (Lost and Found or Pets lists)

  • Local shelters

  • Animal control and more

When indoor cats get out for the first time, they are scared and do not know what to do.

Their first instinct is to find a place to hide.

If they have ever escaped before they will run the same direction and go the same place they did before (even if it was years ago).

Cats will usually stay within a 3-4 house radius from where they went out as long as they can find a place to hide within that area.

They look for the first place to hide and then they stay there (sometimes for days on end) as long as it is safe and dry.

If they venture out, from their hiding spot, it is generally at night when there is less activity.

They usually will only start to look for food/water after about 2-3 days.

The longer they are out the more confidence they gain.

The demeanor of your cat will play a big role in how they act when they get out.

As a rule – males will tend to come out of hiding sooner and wander farther than females.

Is your cat friendly to strangers that come into your house?

If so, they may approach strangers outside after they have gained confidence.

As soon as you notice your cat is missing, talk to your family members or housemates and ask where and when they last saw your cat.

Search your home carefully—under beds, in closets, dark places, small places, behind bulky furniture— in case your cat is hiding or sleeping somewhere.

If you are sure your cat is not in/around the home, take a slow ride or walk around your neighborhood. Bring along a recent photo of your cat and ask neighbors if they’ve seen him or her.

Check under porches and shrubs and ask neighbors to check in sheds and garages in case your cat was accidently locked in.

If you did not see the cat run out then make sure you check all hiding places inside your house.

The cat might not be feeling well and is hiding.

Figure out which door the cat escaped from. Go out the door and look both directions.

If you were a cat which way would you have wandered?

Are there objects that the cat can use as cover to make her way to a great hiding spot?

Cats will not run out in the open (across a driveway, yard, or field) unless they are being chased by something (you, a dog, or a predator).

Best time to find a cat is once it is dark, using a flashlight to catch their eyes in the light. Softly call their name and shine the light under all decks and objects.

Cats operate on the sense of smell first (before sight). They can smell 1000 times better than us. If the cat has been with you for longer than a couple weeks they are bonded to your house and the smell of the house.

Try to get as much of your scent outside so the cat can smell it and will stay in their hiding spot knowing that they are close to home.

Do not Fall into the trap of putting their litter box outside.

This is a myth and actually can attract predators or other cats and only drive your cat away. 

Shaking a food dish, treat jar or favorite toy will sometimes lure animals out of a hiding place.

If they are outside, cook up something smelly on your grill, bacon or liverwurst; something that might bring your cat home for dinner!

Open the windows of your house and get the house smells outside. Put your blanket or article of clothing outside. Cut strips out of a sheet or towel and hang them outside the house. Do not put the litterbox outside. Put canned cat food outside. Spread dry food around where you think the cat might be.

Put up posters and go door to door telling all of your neighbors to be on the lookout for the cat. Make sure they have a picture of the cat with your phone number on it.

Please note, we do not suggest having large groups of people out searching and calling for your lost pet.

This will only scare your pet and drive them out of the area.

People wanting to help can drive around and the call the owner with any sightings, but never chase the cat or call out to it if it is not your own cat.


When it comes down to it, prevention is critical. Luckily, there’s so much we can do to prevent our cats from ever going missing!

1. Reduce the chances of your indoor cat getting out.

Our quick and stealthy feline family members can’t help but be curious. It’s in their nature. The sights and smells of the outdoors are intriguing. Is it any wonder they take advantage of open windows and doors?

Indoor cats can slip outside by door dashing or exiting through open windows and loose screens. And visitors and contractors can leave a door open or ajar just a moment too long. All of these scenarios can lead to a potentially heartbreaking outcome. Check your screens often and place a reminder sign on your doors to keep your cat indoors.  


To release your indoor cat’s pent up energy and desire for fresh air and the stimulation of the outdoors,pet strollers

and catios, outdoor “cat patios” are great preventative measures to keep your cat safe.


The risk of getting lost or hurt is even greater for indoor-outdoor cats. Cats who roam freely outdoors are at risk from vehicles, predators, poisons, diseases from other animals, pesticides, getting lost or locked in a neighbor’s garage. Plus, expensive vet bills.  An outdoor cat enclosure can provide a safe alternative for the indoor/outdoor dilemma and provide peace of mind knowing your cats is always safe.

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