LOST AND FOUND CATS
What to do with a lost or a found cat
Cats are very often misunderstood and underestimated when they go missing. We are used to thinking about our beloved feline companions as creatures of leisure - carefree and totally dependable on us.
However, they are far from helpless and their true survival instincts are all but forgotten and once they find themselves lost. But you need to know what to do exactly if you lost your cat or found someone else's cat.
REASONS WHY CATS GO MISSING
Below are the reasons your cat may have gone missing. You need to know them and what approaches to take to cover all bases and maximise your chances of finding your beloved feline and bringing it home safe. So keep calm and follow the steps below!
The good news is that cats are great survivors and eventually most of them can be found within days or weeks, but months and even years are not that uncommon, so if it has been that long - stay positive!
REASON 1: Your cat got spooked and disoriented
Something spooky. There is always a possibility that your cat was minding its own business when something sudden and frightening happened. This could be a car, an aggressive dog, a loud noise, fireworks, a new territorial cat... whatever it is it made your cat bolt in a random direction and hide.
The great escape. Someone left a door open and your inside cat used the opportunity? Or you were traveling with your cat and the carrier got opened by accident and your cat bolted to freedom? Instant regret, but by then your cat is somewhere it has never been before, and the instincts say - hide first, think later.
Possible Injury. The same instinct kicks in when a cat is hit by a car or attacked by another cat or a dog - run as fast as you can and hide as best as you can.
Unforeseen travel. Totally unintentionally your cat may be taken for a long drive by unsuspecting humans in their car or van. Removalists, tradesmen or anyone else with a vehicle may have taken your cat to a completely different area without realising it.
Intentional malice. Sometimes it happens that your neighbours instead of talking to you directly about any problems with your cat's visitation of their property they will choose to deal with it by trapping your cat and dumping it in a different area.
BOTTOM LINE: any of the above situations cause your cat wild instinct to kick in which is always a short distance bolt and hide. This means that the cat will usually be hiding someone very close by, however it will be as still and quiet as possible - to be invisible to predators. Once ready - it will break the cover to find the closest available water and food source. This time is crucial! Some cats can take days and even weeks to get to that point, and you need to use this knowledge to your advantage by following the steps below.
REASON 2: Your cat is trapped in a shed, garage, etc
So your cat never missed a meal in years, but today it happened? Cats are inquisitive and curious creatures, they often go to neighbouring properties to check out what's new. Sometimes they can accidently get trapped in sheds or garages, especially when the property occupants go away for a weekend or holiday and lock everything up.
They can also get stuck in storm water drains, pipes, under houses, etc.
In most cases the cat will try to get out or cry for help.
REASON 3: Your cat was found by someone
Very often hungry and tired your cat will appear at someone's house or will get picked up on the street by people thinking it is lost or stray. They may start feeding it and caring for it and in the meantime will casually keep an eye out for any 'lost cat' posters. Not many people know what to do with a found cat or even have the time to find out.
In this situation it is your job to leave no stone unturned until the news of your lost cat reaches the right ears. With the steps below you can ensure you anticipate their most common moves and take appropriate action.
REASON 4: Your cat is deceased
It is a horrible thought, however you need the closure if it happens.
REASON 5: Your cat is stolen
This is extremely rare and if it is the case someone you know is usually involved: an ex-partner, a relative, a flat mate - someone who knows and possibly loves your cat as much as you and wants it for themselves.
Most people who find a cat do not intend to keep it, they give it a temporary home and if their attempts at looking for the owner are unsuccessful the cat may end up staying permanently.
HOW TO FIND A LOST CAT
Physical search tips
START WITH A THOROUGH PHYSICAL SEARCH
Use these Best tips to find your lost cat
LOST CATS AT VETS & POUNDS
Pet Professional Search Tips
START WITH MICROCHIP
Microchipping your cat was a great call and may save you a lot of heartbreake now. No, unfortunately, a chip is not a GPS tracker, but it's value can't be underestimated. A correctly functioning and properly registered microchip has helped to reunite many cats even those missing for years. Make sure your cat's chip number is registered correctly with your current phone number. Find out how to do that
FILE A REPORT WITH YOUR COUNCIL
Even if your cat is not regsitered with the Council, it may still end up at their animal control facilitiy (pound). Many councils have their own Lost & Found pet register, and your cat should be on it. So call your local Council for further instructions or check the links in the next step.
ASK THE HARD QUESTION
Ask your Council how they deal with deceased cats, do they contract companies to remove bodies, do they scan microchips and do they keep any records.
VISIT POUNDS AND SHELTERS IN PERSON
If you cat is found, Council pound is the most likely place to end up at. You need to start visiting pounds regularly and look at found cats and cats for re-homing with your own eyes. Even the best people make mistakes, verbal descriptions vary dramatically, microchips are not fail safe, and in the meantime your cat is in the pound getting ready to be adopted out.
Check Local Pounds And Shelters in:
In many cases initially a found cat is taken to a vet to be scanned for a chip. It can stay at a vet for a few days while they are waiting for the owner to come forward. From there it can be passed on to the Council Animal Control. You need to notify as many vets in the area as you can and send them the details of your missing cat via email.
CONTACT POLICE IF SUSPECTED STOLEN
Only if you have proof and solid grounds to suspect your cat was actually stolen we recommend contacting the Police. Make sure all your proof of ownership paperwork like council registration, microchip registration, etc. are in order and you have evidence of the theft. However, do not stop all your other search efforts, as the more awareness you raise in the community the harder it will become for the thief to hold on to your cat.
LOST CATS ON THE NET
Facebook and Web Search Tips
LIST ON LOST AND FOUND REGISTERS ON THE WEB
The finder will most likely try to reach out to you via the major web registies for lost and found pets by listing your cat as found. Especially if they are not on Facebook. So you need to list your cat as lost there asap. Start with ones like Gumtree and Lost Pet Finders. Register with Lost Pet Finders
ENGAGE PET RADAR
There is an easy way to review all newly registered found cat listings near you on Lost Pet Finders. You can get them in a daily email, or check your Pet Radar tab on the website. The Pet Radar is created for you automatically when you register your cat with us. It is absolutely free and can be adjusted to your needs: coverage area can be increased, more Radars can be created in other areas (which is very handy for when you have sightings further out). Register with Lost Pet Finders
SPREAD THE WORD ON FACEBOOK
Your local community noticeboard groups, local Lost and Found Pet groups and pages, buy/swap/sell groups in your area, neighbourhood watch, anywhere where they allow posting a lost pet you need to target. If you have a lost cat listing on Lost Pet Finders, you already have a professional post with all the necessary information and a private method of contact created for you (check your email). We compiled the list of Lost Pet Groups and Pages on Facebook where you need to share that post.
ISSUE A PET ALERT
Lost Pet Finders can send your lost cat details to local website members, vets and pounds and members of general public on your behalf. The system will select people and organisations closest to you and send them emails, phone broadcasts and SMS about your lost cat in a matter of minutes. This is a paid service, but well worth the investment. It saves you time and helps you connect with more caring locals. Find out more about Pet Alert
BOOST YOUR POST ON FACEBOOK
Now that you have posted your Lost Cat in all those groups and pages on Facebook, it is time to take your search further and beyond their limited followings. Boosting allows your Lost Cat Post to be shown as an ad to local Facebook users based on their location and not their memberships. Just like you regularly see ads on your Facebook timeline from different companies, locals will see your Lost Cat Ad. Depending on how much you are willing to invest, you could reach a few hundred and up to tens of thousands of people near you. Find out more about Facebook Boost
DON'T MISS OUT ON URGENT SIGHTINGS
Along with making sure your phone is always on and charged you also need to make sure you check your email regularly including your Spam/Junk box to make sure you do not miss any important sightings of your lost cat. Make sure you communcate with people and acknowledge the receipt of their message, they will be more willing to take the extra step to help you.
CONTACT LOCAL PAPERS AND RADIO STATIONS
Your local papers and radio stations may have a special slot for Lost & Found. Contact them and see if you can place your Lost Cat Notice in it as you need to cover all bases.
BUMP YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS
Most Facebook groups allow you to put a comment under your post saying 'Bump'. This comment will put your post back to the top of that group's timeline temporarily. You can use that feature regularly to remind people your cat is still missing and you still need help looking.
WHAT TO DO WITH A FOUND CAT?
CONTAIN THE CAT
Do not chase after it as you may spook it, but rather stay where you are and try calling the cat, or better yet, try luring it out with some delicious smelly food like a can of tuna. Be patient, it may take you hours and even days to earn the cat's trust.
CHECK FOR A TAG OR A COLLAR
You may find a tag with a number on it, or the number may be embroided on the collar itself. If it is the phone number - you know what to do. Do not give up if the owner does not pick up immediately, we do not know their circumstances. If the number looks like it may be a council registration number call your local council for further instructions.
KEEP A SECRET TO VERIFY OWNERSHIP
It may be hard to tell if the cat recognises the owner when they are under so much stress. Make sure when you follow the next steps and create posters, online listings and etc. you leave something out of the description that only the owner would know and use it to check if it is really their cat. Don't, however, withhold the description completely, as you will be flooded with questions from highly stressed lost cat owners hoping a quick answer.
PUT SIGNS UP
If the owners are still walking the streets searching for their cat you may want to get their attention by placing a note on your mailbox saying something like "cat found here" or post a few found cat flyers around the neighbourhood including local supermarket noticeboards, schools, parks.
LIST ON LOST AND FOUND REGISTERS ON THE WEB
The best way to help the owners track their lost cat down on the Web is to put a found cat notice on all major Lost and Found Pet registers. The owners don't need to be on Facebook to find your notice. Start with ones like Gumtree and Lost Pet Finders. Register with Lost Pet Finders
Vets may recognise a cat as a patient of theirs. Owner will also notify vets of their missing cat and some vets are very good at keeping lost animal records. They may have had a missing report about this same cat and can put you in touch with the owner asap.
CHECK FOR MICROCHIP
One of the most important and effective steps to take is to take the cat you found to a vet to scan for a chip. This is done free of charge, and it the details registered to the chip are up to date, the reunion may happen almost instantly. Just don't forget to secure the cat in a crate or a carrier before travelling to the vet.
ATTENTION: some vets are required by law to surrender found cats to the Council Pound without making attempts at reuniting them with owners. If you are concerned call to ask them first.
NOTIFY THE COUNCIL
Most Councils have a Ranger that can pick up the cat and take it to the pound. Some will require you to bring the cat to the pound yourself. And some do not impound cats at all. While we understand you may be reluctant to give the cat up to a pound for the fear of it being put down, the pound is still the most likely place the owner will check to find their lost cat.
USE PET RADAR
Once your found cat is listed on Lost Pet Finders your Pet Radar is created for you automatically free of charge. This means that you will be getting a daily email with new lost cat notices near you.
Facebook is a good place to raise awareness, so start with local Lost and Found Pet groups and pages, your local community noticeboard groups, neighbourhood watch, buy/swap/sell groups in your area. Lost Pet Finders may have already created a perfect post for you to share with others containing all the necessary information and a private method of contacting you (check your email). We compiled the list of Lost Pet Groups and Pages on Facebook where you need to share that post.
BOOST YOUR POST ON FACEBOOK
If you wish to push your Facebook presence even further you can boost your found cat post via Lost Pet Finders which will turn it into an ad for local Facebook users based on their location and not their memberships in any particular group or page. You can get hundreds and even thousands more views depending on how much you are willing to invest. Find out more about Facebook Boost
DON'T MISS OUT ON IMPORTANT MESSAGES
Make sure you check your email Spam and Junk box regularly, check your Facebook 'Message Requests' as some messages end up there without you getting the notifications. Leave a comment under every Facebook post created for you so that people know who to direct message and Facebook gives you notifications of new activity on the post.
BUMP YOUR POSTS ON FACEBOOK
Your post in most Facebook groups can be regularly pushed back to the top of that group's timeline.You just need to put a comment under your post saying 'Bump'. Depending on the rules of a particular group you can use this trick regularly to remind people that the cat you found is still waiting to be claimed.
The owner may not be on the internet at all, so you need to keep an eye out for lost cat ads in your local papers. Also check noticeboards of you local supermarkets, clubs, pet shop, etc.