You won’t believe this: in the same week or so, my sister and I both lost our cats! What were the odds? Anyway, we were devastated. We both love our cats so much we were ready to go to great lengths to find them! If that ever happens to you, here are a few tips based on our recent (traumatic!) experience.
Start with Prevention
In order to find your pet easily in the event he strays, a good idea is to make him wear a collar with an identification tag. However, if you skipped that step and your pet is missing, here’s what to do:
1) Don’t give in to panic.
Easier said than done, I agree. You LOVE your pet, we know, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by emotions when you see his favourite basket or blanket empty. You feel so helpless. Yet many people who once lost their pet found it. It’s not unusual to find stray pets so keep the faith. He might come back on his own, but don’t wait too long before you take these practical steps.
2) Get the word out.
The more people who are aware you lost your pet, the better. Talk to your neighbors, ask around, make posters with a picture and a short description, hand out pamphlets, show a picture of your pet on your phone or tablet to people you meet on the street, place an ad in the local newspaper or on the Internet... Anything you can imagine to make it work! The fact I sounded so desperate in my search when talking to EACH ONE of my neighbors probably contributed to their being ready to help me and promising to call me if they saw my cat.
3) Don’t give up!
4) Call veterinary clinics and animal shelters.
Many people who find a stray animal are not aware of your personal situation and therefore have the reflex to take him to a clinic or a shelter.
5) Be organized in your search.
If you comb the neighborhood, try to go systematically from one area to another, not forgetting all the places where your pet could hide like shacks, narrow alleys, bushes, even in garbage. Be methodical.
6) Walk around and call him by name.
If your cat is as intelligent as ours, he will understand his name. (That depends on prior training though.) Your pet might recognize your voice and get closer to you. Keep calling him and listen carefully. His meow or bark might be hard to hear from behind a window or near a busy street.
7) Don’t chase your animal.
A stray pet may be scared and wild even if he used to be the nicest little kitty in your living room. So, if you catch sight of him, don’t chase after him; you’ll scare him away for sure. Sit down, keep calling him, speak in a way that is reassuring and wait. It may take some time but your pet WILL gradually get closer to you.
8) Set a trap.
If you know he’s in the neighborhood somewhere but you can’t get him to come closer to you, you can try setting a trap to bring him home. Ask your veterinary clinic or shelter about renting one and setting it properly and safely.
And most important of all, don’t give up hope! Things can take a turn for the better! For example, my sister found her cat, which was wandering around at the end of the street, frightened by everything as she was not used to going outside. It took about 10 days before she could see her and get her to come home by calling her name.
And what about mine? Well, I literally combed the neighborhood and annoyed all my neighbors. Among them, however, a nice lady steered my search in the right direction. I ended up looking for him in the nearby schoolyard since the last sighting of him had been there a few days beforehand. I was on the third floor and as I kept calling him, I heard a little meow from behind the window of... the science lab! Told you my cat was intelligent...
Have you ever lost your pet? Was he found? Please share your experiences, thoughts and tips with us.