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When to Stop Looking for a Lost Cat

It is a terrifying moment when you realize that your cat is lost. You might begin to immediately and frantically search in all of the places where your cat would normally be, and your heart races when you come up empty-handed. 

Questions flood through your mind: how likely is it to find my lost cat? How can I recover my cat? 

The answer is to never give up looking for your missing cat! Although most lost cats are recovered within a year, conducting a physical search periodically is one of the best ways to successfully recover lost cats even after one year.

Read on to discover how long it takes to find a lost cat, what you can do to recover your missing feline, and how to prevent it from happening again.

How Likely Is It to Find a Lost Cat?

How Likely Is It to Find a Lost Cat

Within a five-year duration, 15% of cat owners will lose their cat. 

If you are actively attempting to locate a lost cat, it might be reassuring to know that 61% of lost cats are recovered within a year. 

In fact, one-third of lost cats are found within seven days. These statistics suggest not to give up too quickly when looking for your lost cat. 

Importance of a Physical Search

A thorough physical search of the surrounding area dramatically increases the probability of recovering a lost cat. 

A physical search includes checking the house’s yard where the cat escaped, and walking and driving around the neighborhood. 

This is a valuable approach to finding your lost cat because 75% of missing felines are recovered within roughly 545 yards (or 500 meters) from where they ran away.

Will Lost Cats Return Home On Their Own

While 30% of cat owners find their lost cat through a physical search, 59% of cat owners are reunited with their lost cats simply because the kitties come home on their own. 

Cats have an excellent sense of direction; although, scientists are unsure what exactly gives cats their navigational skills. Generally, you should not overly rely on your feline’s directional abilities since we know that not all lost cats return home.

Indoor Cats Versus Outdoor Cats

If your lost kitty is an indoor cat, he is likely closer to your home than an outdoor cat who is usually outside without supervision. 

Typically, a lost indoor cat is more likely to be recovered than a lost outdoor cat. When compared side by side, 75% of lost indoor cats are reunited with their owners as opposed to 33% of lost outdoor cats. 

Lost Cats Brought to Shelters

Should a well-meaning bystander take your lost cat to an animal shelter, there’s a 1.5% to 4.5% chance that you will be reunited with your cat. 

This is because a very small number of cats have identification tags, and many microchips are not registered or updated. 

Numerous cities have short holding periods for lost cats before they become eligible for adoption at the shelter. In addition, it might be months before your lost cat is even taken to a shelter.

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Where Lost Cats Are Found

The majority of lost cats are typically found outside. 

They are often found hiding under cars, porches, decks, and other outdoor structures near their home. 

Sometimes, cats who are exceedingly inquisitive will venture into someone else’s home or garage in comparison to other temperament types. 

How Can I Find a Lost Cat?

How Can I Find a Lost Cat

Conduct a Physical Search

The most successful way to find your lost cat is through a physical search. You can consider these key recommendations while conducting a physical search:

  • Be proactive and immediately begin the search. The less time you spend idly worrying about your lost cat is better because this can ensure a quicker recovery of your feline.
  • Look inside your home and around your yard. It is a good idea to search at different times of the day because cats are usually active during the quieter hours of the morning and night.
  • Ask for your neighbors’ permission to check their property. You can search the interior of their garages and other outdoor buildings where your cat might be trapped or hiding. You can also invite your neighbors to assist you in your search.
  • Investigate areas where you used to live. Your cat might have wandered back toward your previous home if you had recently moved.
  • Summon your cat by name. It has been shown that cats know their names and recognize their owners’ voices.
  • Recheck the same places. Cats might leave one hiding place and locate a different one in an area you have previously searched. If you have an outdoor cat, broaden your search area.

Put Up Posters and Post on Social Media

It is helpful to put up posters in your neighborhood that include a picture and description of your lost cat as well as your contact information. 

Ideally, the photo should be a high-resolution picture. The description can mention your cat’s fur color and length, sex, age, and other unique identifiers. 

When putting up the posters, consider the reality that your lost cat might have traveled further than you originally imagined. 

You can place your posters near public transportation so that more people than just your neighbors see the information. 

You can also make posts on social media sites, such as This will allow you to reach a larger audience and connect with even more people who can potentially help. 

Similar to the posters, include a picture and description of your lost cat as well as your contact information.

Contact Nearby Shelters

It is vital to contact the shelters in your vicinity and not only the closest one to your home. 

Keep in mind that your lost cat will be scanned at the shelter for a microchip. If your cat does not have an up-to-date or activated microchip, leave your number with the shelter staff, as well as a picture and description of your cat. 

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This way, you can still be contacted if a cat matching the description of your lost kitty is brought to the shelter.

How Can I Prevent Losing a Cat?

How Can I Prevent Losing a Cat

As a cat owner, it is essential to take appropriate measures to prevent your cat from running away and/or becoming lost. You can follow these crucial steps to prevent losing your cat:

  1. Spay or neuter your cat. This is because cats will sometimes run off to find a mating partner. Spayed and neutered cats are less inclined to do this.
  2. Create an outdoor enclosure for your cat. This offers indoor cats an opportunity to explore while also keeping them close to home and safe. It also gives a perimeter to outdoors cats so that they are less likely to experience the hazards of free-roaming, such as encounters with cars or predatory animals.
  3. Take care of your cat by providing the appropriate amount of food, water, and attention. A cat is not as willing to completely vacate an area where his basic needs are met.
  4. Keep windows and doors closed. This is especially needed if you have a cat who jumps at any chance to run outside. In fact, 74% of lost cats initially run out through an open door.
  5. Put a collar and ID tag on your cat. This should be done along with microchipping your cat (and keeping that up-to-date with your current contact information).

Why Does a Cat Get Lost?

As you are actively searching for your lost cat, you might wonder why your cat is even lost. There are several reasons why a cat wanders away and does not instantly return home. 

It could be because it is time for your cat to mate, extend and defend his territory, give birth, or heal from sickness.

Finding a Mate

As previously mentioned, cats will sometimes run off in order to find a mating partner. 

This is particularly true for a female cat in heat or an unneutered male cat. They both possess an instinctual drive to mate, which can prompt them to leave to find a partner.

Extending and Defending Territory

Cats are territorial, which means that they will roam in order to extend their territory and defend it from other cats. 

Interestingly enough, cats are even more territorial than dogs. Cats mark their territory with urine, letting other felines know that this is their turf. 

Furthermore, they defend their territory by regularly patrolling it, which means that they might get preoccupied with safeguarding their land claim. 

Giving Birth or Healing From Sickness

When cats are pregnant or sick, they often seek hiding places and isolate themselves. 

During pregnancy, cats will find a private place to safely birth their kittens. If your home stresses out your cat (through loud noises or activity from multiple pets or people), a pregnant cat might leave to find a secure spot to deliver the litter. 

Likewise, sick cats will often seek secluded areas where they can heal without any interruptions.