Losing your cat is a very stressful experience, but don’t panic! We’ve outlined our best tips for finding a lost cat fast.
Note: By law, the Atlanta Humane Society is not able to take in stray or abandoned animals. If you have lost your pet, please reach out to your local county shelters. You can learn more about that here.
1. Search your home. Although this may seem like an odd first step when you believe your cat is missing from your home, cats are experts at hiding. Unless you witnessed your cat bolting out of your door, it’s best to do a thorough sweep inside your home before expanding your search outward. Check for your cat in hard-to-reach spots, like in a storage area, under the couch, or in any exposed walls.
2. Once you’ve confirmed that your cat isn’t inside, check outside your home. Cats typically don’t stray too far, so you’ll want to check underneath your porch, inside your garage, and behind your shed, if you have those home features. You’ll also want to ask for your neighbors’ permission to search outside their homes. As the days pass, be sure to take several walks through your neighborhood and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of your cat.
Pro tip: search outside in the late evening/early morning hours. When outdoor activity has quieted down, you’ll be able to listen more easily for your cat – and they’ll be able to hear your calls for their return even better.
3. Place food and water outside your home. Unless they’re able to find another source of food and water, your cat will eventually need sustenance. Food that is especially stinky, like tuna fish and sardines, are great ways to attract a hungry cat and encourage them to come home.
Pro tip: Set up a camera so you can monitor whether your cat is returning home to eat or if another critter is responsible for any missing food. We also recommend setting up a humane trap so that if your cat does approach to eat food while you’re away, you’ll be able to catch them and keep them contained. Humane traps should be checked regularly.
4. Contact your local county shelters. Animals who are found as strays are required to be turned into the shelter within the county where the animal was found. Your cat will likely be placed on a stray hold to give you time to find them, but be sure to contact shelters regularly. We also recommend hanging posters around your neighborhood and sharing your cat’s photo on social media, NextDoor, and any other online communities you are a part of. Finally, Petco Love Lost allows you to submit a photo of your missing cat and search their national lost and found pet database.
5. While you’re waiting for your cat to come home or appear in a county shelter, leave a point of entry open. Leaving your garage door open slightly or, if it’s safe, leaving a door to your home cracked will allow your cat to go inside for safety the moment they return home.