Did you lose your cat? Missing Pet Partnership has some great descriptions of individual cat “types” why they might take off how far they might go and where they might hide. We’ve posted a bit of their article to give you some ideas
HOW TO FIND YOUR MISSING CAT
Finding Outdoor-Access Lost Cats
Cats are territorial. When an outdoor-access cat suddenly vanishes, it means that SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED to that cat to interrupt its normal behavior of coming home. The disappearance could mean that the cat is injured, trapped, or deceased within its territory. Or perhaps the cat was transported out of the area-either intentionally (by an irate neighbor who trapped the cat) or unintentionally (by the cat climbing into an open vehicle). Possibly the cat was displaced into unfamiliar territory (something as simple as being chased by a dog several houses away) causing it to panic and hide in silence.
The investigative question when an outdoor-access cat disappears is: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAT?
How to find your Indoor-Only Lost Cat when it gets lost
The territory for an indoor-only cat is the inside of the home where it lives. When an indoor-only cat escapes outdoors, it is “displaced” into unfamiliar territory. Usually, they will look for the first place that will offer concealment and protection. Their instinctive response is to HIDE IN SILENCE because that is their primary protection from predators. How long they remain in that hiding place and what they do from there is dependant upon their temperament. The investigative question when an indoor-only cat escapes outdoors is: WHERE IS THE CAT HIDING?
Feline Temperaments That Influence Distances Traveled by Lost Cats
Temperament influences actions. How a cat behaves when in its normal territory will influence how it behaves when it becomes “lost” or displaced into unfamiliar territory. In addition to posting flyers and checking the cages of local shelters, encourage cat owners to develop a search strategy based on the specific behavior of their cat.
Which cat personality best matches your cats?
- CURIOUS/CLOWN CAT – These are gregarious cats that get into trouble easily, run to the door to greet a stranger, and are not easily afraid of anything.
- CARE-LESS CAT – These aloof cats don’t seem to care much about people.
- CAUTIOUS CAT – These cats are generally stable but they show occasional shyness.
- CATATONIC/XENOPHOBIC CAT – Xenophobia means “fear or hatred of things strange or foreign.”
Owner Behaviors That Create Problems
Cat owners often behave in ways that actually inhibit their chances of finding their lost cat.
Rescuer Behaviors That Create Problems
One of the most tragic misinterpretations of feline behavior occurs when rescuers observe a cat with a xenophobic temperament and assume, based on the fearful behavior, that the cat is an untamed “feral.”
Indoor-only cats are likely to be found very close to home; in fact, sometimes they are stuck or hiding INSIDE the home!
They are most often found in or around the owner’s or an immediate neighbor’s home in the bushes, under the house, in a shed, under a deck, or some other hiding place. When they get out, indoor cats tend to be quiet and fearful and to hunker down and not emerge, even to the sound of the owner’s voice. We have counseled owners in many cases where they were calling and shaking the food bag right next to where the cat was hiding, but there was no response.
Indoor cats are in danger of being labeled as feral in a shelter environment, because they are not socialized to other people and environments and will likely hiss, strike, and display other “wild” behavior when stressed. This is why it is critical to get them back in their homes as quickly as possible.
Outdoor-access cats are also typically found close to home, but farther than the indoor cat, sometimes 2-3 blocks away.
The reason for an outdoor-access cat’s disappearance is usually that he is ill or injured, stuck, or has been displaced (chased by people, another pet, or a wild animal).
“Curiosity killed the cat” is an unfortunately true adage that leads cats to explore in places like inside a vehicle, in a tool shed or other building, or around outside obstacles.
Sometimes outdoor-access cats, especially those who have been missing a long time, will turn up at other people’s homes or in colonies of free-roaming cats. They will naturally look for things familiar and comforting to them like food, water, shelter, and other cats. This is why it is important for people who notice a new cat to ask around and check lost reports at their local shelter and not make an assumption that the cat was abandoned.
Shy cats will hide and avoid people for very long periods of time. We have experienced many cases where cats hid for days or even weeks and miraculously survived after being found, although with kidney damage and other medical issues as a result of starvation and dehydration. This is why it is critical to get these cats back home as quickly as possible and to encourage owners to not give up. After days or weeks of searching, the owner may give up, believing their cat is dead when he is still hiding (or stuck) nearby and in need of medical attention.
The outgoing cat may be vocal and approach people, even following them home. Because of this, he may travel away from his own home then become disoriented and unable to find his way back. Such outgoing cats are in danger of being taken in and kept by finders who mean well but assume the cat has been abandoned.
Cats are often miscategorized by both their owners and/or the rescue as to what they might be called. About half the time I look at a picture of a “Calico” cat it’s actually a “Tortie” Be sure to look through our list of how to identify your alley cat here.