How to Get an Escaped House Cat to Come Home

Three Parts:Acting QuicklyMaking Your Search VisibleCatching And Taking Care Of Your Cat

Losing a pet is a traumatic experience for the whole family and can be heart-breaking for children. Cats are naturally curious and love to explore their environment. Unfortunately, they are not always able to find their way back. Don't panic, there are ways to bring Felix home.

Part 1
Acting Quickly

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    Make sure that the cat is not inside the house. Cats have a tendency to crawl inside drawers and love to sleep in confined spaces.[1] Before alarming everybody and panicking the children, make sure that the cat is really outside. Call it and offer food. Quickly inspect its favourite places and look for an open window or door.
    • Don’t forget to check the garage and the garden. Your cat might just be napping on the grass. Look below the car and in warm places, where cats love to sleep.
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    Call for help and explore the area around your house. If your cat just left the house, don’t panic. Ask your household and your neighbours to explore the area around your house. Cats usually don’t travel much and are likely to be close by.
    • Be organized. Assign a street or two to each member of the search party. Ask them to be systematic and to look below cars and behind bins.
    • Leave your front door open. The cat might want to come home after a while. Make sure that it can access the house. Leave its favourite blanket or litter box outside to let the smell travel. It will help your cat if it lost its way. Don’t forget to leave someone inside to check for potential intruders.
    • Don’t run. You might want to hurry while searching for the cat in the streets. Sudden movements will scare your pet. Cats dislike sudden movements and are wired to hide when threatened.
    • If you live near a major road, make sure your cat hasn’t been hit by a car. Cats are unfortunately prone to these accidents. [2]
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    Call the police. If you have a pedigree cat, it might be worth going to the police station. Breeds have a monetary value and are targeted by thieves.[3] Bring a picture and a description with you.
    • Bring a picture and a description of your cat. It will help the police.
    • Try to make sure that your cat hasn't escaped. You don't want to waste the time of the police.
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    Organize a new search party between 5 and 8 pm. It is worth searching again in the evening if you didn’t find your animal during the day. Cats hunt at night.[4] They also dislike noise and are more likely to get out when everything is quiet outside. Remember that they have a better night vision than humans.
    • Begin your search at dusk when the sun is still shining. The setting sun will create long shadows, which are ideal to spot your little friend.
    • Don’t forget to take a lamp torch with you. Remember that a cat’s eye will reflect the beam of your torch, making it very visible at night. Point your lamp torch in all directions and below the cars. Look for the typical reflection in the retina.[5]
    • Shake a can of the cat’s favorite food as you walk around. The sound might attract it.
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    Investigate door-to-door. Cats like to sneak inside neighbours’ houses for a nap or to eat food. It might be worth ringing bells to investigate. Start with the houses close to your home and extend the perimeter progressively. Don’t forget to bring a picture of your cat.
    • Give your coordinates to the people you meet. They might spot your cat soon after your visit.
    • Be polite and apologise if you are disturbing someone. If you leave a good first impression, people might be more willing to help.

Part 2
Making Your Search Visible

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    Placard missing posters in the area. Your cat is gone for more than a few hours and it’s time to be efficient. Create a poster with your computer and ask for a few friends to placard copies all over the area.
    • Your poster should include a colour picture of your cat, its name, your name, the date and location it disappeared from, a phone number and an email address.
    • Ask local business to placard your poster inside and outside their shops.
    • Don’t placard a poster if it’s illegal to do so. You don’t want to be fined.
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    Use the power of the internet. Cats usually stay in the area where they live but can occasionally travel further.[6] Using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, is the best way to alert a lot of people quickly.
    • Target local website and popular social media. It’s the fastest and most efficient way to make sure that the whole area where you live is covered.
    • Publish an ad in the local newspaper. It is less effective but you want to be thorough.
    • You could offer a reward. This might encourage children or other people to look for your cat actively.
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    Contact animal charities. Your cat might have been found and brought to a shelter. It is always worth visiting them and making sure your cat is not there. There are also charities helping with the search process. Check online to see if there is one in your area.
    • If you go to a shelter, bring a picture of your cat and its documents. They might want to make sure that you are the rightful owner.
    • Don’t wait too long to visit a shelter. In some countries, animals are sometimes put to sleep to make space for others. Fortunately, this is not such a common practice and most shelters will put only aggressive animals down.
    • Call local veterinarians. They might have your animal.

Part 3
Catching And Taking Care Of Your Cat

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    Approach your cat gently. If you or your friends spot the cat, be careful. Your animal might be afraid or wounded.[7] Call your friends for backup and try to talk to the cat. Look for potential escape routes and try to anticipate its movements. Approach slowly and, if possible, offer food. Let the cat sniff your hand and give it time to trust you. Gently take the animal in your arms.
    • If your cat is visibly wounded, try to be extremely careful. You don’t want to aggravate the situation or cause unnecessary pain.
    • Make sure you take the right cat! It’s not always easy to distinguish similar animals. Look for distinctive marks and try to see if he recognises you.
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    Make your cat comfortable. If your cat was away for a long time, you don’t want to traumatize it further. Let your animal rest for a few days and offer plenty of food. Talk to your animal and show your love.
    • Don’t let your cat out too soon after its disappearance. It needs to find its marks and get used to the environment.
    • If you decide to let your cat go out again, go with it. Let your pet explore a small area at first. Increase the zone in which it is allowed each day.
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    Bring your cat to the veterinary physician. If you cat was out for a few days, it might be worth bringing your animal to an animal clinic. Injuries, such as a rib fracture, are not always easy to spot. Your cat might also have caught a skin disease or flees. [8]
    • If there is a visible wound when you recover your cat, don’t delay the visit. An infection might spread quickly.
    • Don’t forget to take its medical history with you. It might matter in a treatment.


  • If you have other pets and are planning to leave a door open, lock your other pets in a room or they may escape as well.
  • Do not leave food out for your pet. Other strays or wild animals who are more familiar with the area and are more comfortable coming out at night will get it before your pet does, and will see it as an invitation to come back!


  • Planning ahead and teaching your cat to come to a clicker and specific command. Many lost cats are frightened and dog to ground. They may not even come out when the owner is close by, but if they are already clicker trained to come on command, that training can override their fear and encourage them to come out of hiding.

Article Info

Categories: Managing Cat Behavior