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The Pawshank Redemption: Strategies for Finding Your Lost Cat

Updated: Mar 11

Let's review tips on how to keep your fur baby safe, secure, and happy in their indoor cat kingdom. But if they have escaped, you can follow this strategy and proven steps to find and reunite with them.

Indoor cats can make wonderful companions, providing us with love, affection, and comfort in the safety of our homes. However, keeping them happy and healthy requires a little extra effort on our part. As much as we'd like to let our furry friends roam free, it's not always safe or practical to do so. Fortunately, there are many ways to help keep your indoor cat safe, secure, stimulated, and happy. We’ll help you prepare your home, so your cat is at less risk of being separated from you. If your cat is actively lost, we provide a comprehensive strategy and checklist to find them.

Why would my cat want to run away?

As a cat owner, it's important to understand that even indoor cats may have the urge to escape, and it's crucial to take measures to prevent accidental escapes. It's important to keep in mind that cats can become lost or separated from their owners for many reasons. The first step in avoidance is to understand the many reasons they make a mad dash for the door.

  1. Curiosity: Cats are naturally curious animals and may be tempted to explore the outside world. They may be attracted to new sights, sounds, and smells beyond the confines of their indoor environment.

  2. Hunting instinct: Cats are natural hunters, and the instinct to chase and catch prey is deeply ingrained in their DNA. Even well-fed indoor cats may feel the urge to hunt and may try to escape to satisfy their hunting instincts.

  3. Territory marking: Cats are territorial animals, and they may feel the need to explore and mark their territory beyond the boundaries of their indoor environment. This can be especially true if there are other cats or animals in the area.

  4. Social interaction: Cats are social creatures and may try to escape to seek social interaction with other cats, animals, or even humans. They may be lured by the presence of other animals or people outside and may try to escape to satisfy their social needs.

  5. Boredom or lack of stimulation: Indoor cats may become bored or frustrated if they do not have enough mental or physical stimulation indoors. They may attempt to escape in search of more stimulation and excitement.

  6. Fear or stress: Cats can become frightened or stressed by various triggers, such as loud noises, unfamiliar visitors, or changes in their environment. In some cases, cats may try to escape as a response to fear or stress.

  7. Human error: Accidents happen, and sometimes cats may accidentally escape due to human error, such as doors or windows being left open or not securely closed.

  8. The Spring/Summer Itch: In the spring and summer, cats may be more inclined to explore the outdoors due to the warmer weather and longer daylight hours. Additionally, during the holiday season and other times of increased activity, such as moving or remodeling, cats may become stressed and more likely to try to escape or hide.

Think of these factors and try to minimize or eliminate the causes and circumstances your cat wants to or can escape.

What can I do to prevent my cat from escaping?

It's important to keep in mind that cats can become lost or separated from their owners for many reasons, and it's essential to take steps to prevent this from happening. Let’s look at the measures to prevent accidental escapes and small measures for a faster reunion if they do escape. Here are some things you can do to prevent your cat from wanting to leave and ensure that they cannot get out of your house:

  1. Provide plenty of indoor entertainment and stimulation: Offer your cat toys, scratching posts, climbing structures, and puzzle feeders to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.

  2. Keep your cat's litter box clean: Cats are very clean animals and prefer to use a clean litter box. Make sure to scoop out any clumps and solid waste daily and clean the litter box at least once a week.

  3. Provide plenty of food and water: Make sure your cat has access to fresh food and water at all times. Consider using an automatic feeder to ensure your cat always has access to food.

  4. Secure windows and doors: Make sure all windows and doors are securely closed and locked to prevent your cat from escaping.

  5. Inform guests of your pet safety rules: when guests come to visit don’t assume everyone knows you have an “indoor cat”. Advise them to be careful and close the door and make sure the cat doesn’t exit when they do.

  6. Install screens on windows: Installing screens on your windows can allow you to let fresh air into your home while still keeping your cat safely inside.

  7. Train your cat to come when called: Training your cat to come when called can help you keep them safe and prevent them from wandering outside. This is both fun and also provides stimulation.

  8. Consider microchipping your cat: Microchipping your cat can help ensure that they can be easily identified and returned to you if they do escape. Microchipping is a simple and relatively inexpensive ($15-$75) procedure that involves implanting a small chip, about the size of a grain of rice, under your cat's skin, usually between the shoulder blades. This microchip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned with a microchip reader, allowing your cat to be identified if they are found and taken to a vet clinic or animal shelter. The benefits are Permanent identification, Increased chances of being reunited, proof of ownership and safeguards against false identification, and Cost-effectiveness compared to the potential costs of searching for a lost cat or legal disputes over ownership.

  9. Add a customized Cat Tag or custom information collar: Customize with your cell phone number and/or address. You can order these in many formats on

  10. Supervise outdoor time: If you do allow your cat to go outside, make sure to supervise them at all times and provide a secure, enclosed area for them to play in.

By following these tips, you can help keep your cat happy, healthy, and safe inside your home.

Help, my cat is missing, what do I do right now?

Lost your feline friend? Don't panic, the odds are your fur baby is probably within 150 feet from your home. Even though they are most likely close you need to take measured steps to help get them back to their indoor cat kingdom. As cats are territorial animals, once they leave their territory (their home or yard) they are instantly on defense, no longer master of their domain.

Already on edge, most cats will seek shelter in unfamiliar territory when panicked. If you have an indoor cat, it is most likely close and hiding in fear which is a protective measure from predators. Meowing will give up its location to a predator so DNA kicks in its survival instincts and they stay quiet. This is why even if they are close, they will not be calling out (meowing) to you. As you know cats are stubborn and strong-minded and can take several days before they break cover.

Here is a list of steps to follow to help bring your cat home safe and sound, and let the “reunion magic unfold."

  1. Do a thorough indoor sweep: Cats can sleep from 12 to 18 hours a day. Before worrying yourself to death double check all of the indoor areas they can be knapping. I like to use the phrase “Look in every square inch of the house”.

  2. Call your cat calmly: The quieter your search the better, if you make unusual noises your kitty may hunker down and be more difficult to find. Cats are usually responsive to their owners' voices, so you can calmly call your cat using your “dinner time” voice while searching. Use familiar words or sounds that your cat is used to, such as their name, treats rustling, or their favorite toy squeaking. Shake a bag of their favorite treats or their food bowl to attract their attention. If you have trained your cat to come for a shaken bag of cat treats then make that that the only noise you use accompanied by your “dinner time” call – then wait and listen for a meow, be patient.

  3. Notify your neighbors: Inform your neighbors that your cat is missing and provide them with a description or a recent photo of your cat. Ask them to keep an eye out and check their sheds, garages, or other hiding places on their property. Ask permission to search these areas or help with it. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

  4. Do a thorough sweep of the area they escaped from Starting at 50 feet, extending to 100 feet, and then 150 feet. Think of it as a 5 house sweep as the odds are they are that close. Knock on your neighbors’ doors and ask permission to look in their yard. It is important to let your neighbors know your cat is lost as they may have seen and they will help your search or allow unfettered access to their property without issue. The best time to search is when it's dark and quiet - early AM and later in the evening.

  5. Use a flashlight while looking for them, a cat's eyes will shine when hit by a flashlight even in daytime. If your search has not found your fur baby, try repeating it again at night as the flashlight shining on a cat's reflective eyes will be the best way to locate them hiding. At night, you can even get to the highest point, maybe the top floor of your house, and use the flashlight to search for that reflection.

  6. Search all small spaces, under bushes, under the porch, under the deck, in small crawl spaces, and especially in tall grass. Look in neighbors’ sheds (with their permission) as they may have accidentally closed the door while cat was inside. Look under Car hoods and wheel wells.

  7. Look up trees as panicked cats or hunting cats can climb very high.

  8. Look in storm drains, not common but a cat can chase prey into them.

  9. Use Social Media: Post your lost cat pictures and situation to your local town Facebook group or on There are many "lost animal groups by county".Go to Facebook groups and perform a Search on "Lost cat". Provide as much detail as possible when reporting your lost cat, including your cat's description, any distinctive markings, and any relevant behavioral or medical information. Be very specific about where your cat got lost, include a few good pictures and any other pertinent information. Put in your post that you have already contacted the local animal shelter. Other resources are Nextdoor ( ) and the Ring Camera “Neighborhood” network ( ).

  10. Contact local animal shelters and veterinarians: Search Google for “animal shelter near me” or “Veterinarian near me”. Call the ones close to you in case someone found your cat locally and brought them to the shelter or the Vet. Provide them with a detailed description of your cat and your contact information. Check with them regularly to see if your cat has been found or brought in.

  11. Leverage a cat’s incredible sense of smell: Empty the contents of a used litter box and/or household vacuum cleaner bag/canister across the lawn. Leave bowls of smelly food out - tuna/sardines, rotisserie, or freshly fried chicken. Turn on the BBQ and cook hot dogs, bacon or any food with a good aroma.

  12. Leave out food, water, and familiar items: Leave out a dish of your cat's favorite food and fresh water in a safe and accessible area outside your home. You can also place pieces of clothing, bedding, or socks with your scent on your porch or yard, as it may comfort your cat and encourage them to come back.

  13. Contact your microchip company: If your cat is microchipped, contact the microchip company to report your cat as lost and ensure that your contact information is up-to-date. Microchips are a valuable tool for reuniting lost cats with their owners, so it's important to utilize this resource.

After 12-24 hours expand your search and methods

  1. Put up flyers: Create and post flyers in your neighborhood with a clear photo of your cat, your contact information, and a brief description of your cat's appearance and any distinctive features. Place the flyers on community bulletin boards, in local shops, and distribute them to neighbors. Include "LOST CAT" in bold letters on the flyer for visibility.

  2. Leverage additional resources: Register your lost cat on many of the pet finder databases, these resources can help you find your cat and have a reach of millions of people. These databases allow you to create a profile for your lost cat with their description, photo, and contact information. They also have search functions that allow you to look for lost or found cats in your area. It's important to register your lost cat on multiple databases to increase the chances of finding them. Remember to keep your contact information up-to-date and actively check for any updates or sightings. Here are a few popular pet finder databases where you can register your lost cat. - Petfinder ( ) - HomeAgain ( ) - ASPCA ( ) - LostMyKitty ( ) - Petco Lost Love ( ) - PawBoost ( ) - Tabby Tracker ( ) - PetHarbor ( )

  3. Consider setting up Humane traps: If your cat is still missing after a day or two, consider setting up humane traps in your yard or the area where your cat was last seen. Place some familiar-smelling food or treats inside the trap to entice your cat and check the traps regularly. Some animal shelters will lend out Humane animal traps, they can be purchased on Amazon or you can request a local Animal rescue group.

  4. Use Cameras: Use a night vision motion detector video camera that sends notifications to your cell phone, if you don’t have one you can purchase one on or locally. Aim cameras outside at each door along with the humane trap.

  5. Consider hiring a professional pet tracker: In some cases, you may consider hiring a professional pet tracker who can use specialized equipment and techniques to locate lost cats. These individuals or organizations may have experience in finding lost pets and can provide specialized assistance. Some areas have volunteer organizations, google search or ask in your local social media group.

  6. Don't give up: Cats are known to return home even after being missing for several days or even weeks. Keep searching, putting up flyers, and spreading the word about your missing cat. Stay persistent and don't lose hope. Keep actively searching for your cat and maintain communication with the organizations and individuals you have contacted. Additionally, make sure to check your phone, email, and other contact information regularly for any updates or sightings.

In Summary:

Losing a pet can be a stressful and emotional experience, and we hope you never have to go through it if so it is a positive outcome for both you and your fur baby. That's why it's crucial to take every possible step to find your furry friend and ensure their well-being. Remember to take preventative measures to keep your cat safe in the future by securing your home, providing a stimulating indoor environment, and using identification methods such as collars and microchipping.

If you embark on a search for your lost cat, we understand the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that comes with the journey. We're sending you all our love and hope that you're reunited with your beloved feline soon. Please leverage the steps in this article to help drive a positive outcome. We're rooting for you and your cat, and we believe that you can bring them back to your loving home.

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Apr 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

LIfesaver Article! My fur baby thank you!

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