If you have lost a cat, quick action is essential. Most cats go missing between dusk and dawn and can become the prey of wildlife such as coyotes, so if you have other cats, do not let them go out at night. Immediately notify the entire neighborhood with flyers door-to-door and in mailboxes. On these flyers, ask people to search their basements, garages, sheds, chimneys, roofs and trees and to keep the flyer in case they see your cat at a later date. Put posters up for at least a two-block radius.
If your cat is taken to a shelter, there is a possibility that it may be mistaken for a feral cat and euthanized, or if it is seriously injured, it may be euthanized before you locate him/her. Be certain to personally check your local shelter at least every two days. Don’t just phone! Shelters receive thousands of cats annually. Less than 5% are returned to their owners. Be sure to check the isolation area as well as the Vancouver SPCA clinic. Also, check other shelters in surrounding vicinities.
Place a lost ad in all local papers and in the Sun and Province – many people that find strays rely on these sources for information. Repeat the ad at intervals for at least three months. Found ads are free, so be sure to keep checking them. Enlist the help of the children and the paper carriers in the area to keep an eye open for your cat and put a large “lost” sign in your front yard. If you have one, call your municipal pound, as they sometimes pick up stray, dead or injured animals.
Do not assume that a tattoo or tag will automatically result in the return of your cat to you. Many are unreadable, untraceable, or out of date. Be sure whoever tattooed your cat has your current phone number, as the tattoo is useless otherwise.
If the cat is blind or lost in unfamiliar territory, a fine trail of used litter leading in 4 directions from your house will help him find his way home. Also, leave something outside with your scent on it.
If sick or injured, he will hide under or behind something in the immediate area. This is a natural instinct to avoid becoming prey in a weakened condition.
If you have recently moved, be sure to notify old neighbours in case he returns there. Leave them your new number and put up posters. If his tag has an old phone number on it, call whoever has that number now and have them pass calls on to you or ask Telus to put an intercept on it with your new number for a few months.
If a cat sitter has lost your cat, chances are he is being fed by a neighbour nearby, usually only a few doors or a block or so away. Cats will not willingly leave their territory unless taken or chased. 1 in 5 are found miles from home but have obviously been taken by car, usually by accident or by design.
Pay attention to construction sites, vacant buildings, old cars, and dumpsters (particularly with lids).
Some cats are fed by people for months before they start to find the animal’s owner. Be persistent. Some lost cats are found weeks or months later.