Cats are impossibly curious creatures. When an interesting new thing captures their attention they will explore no matter the consequences.
Ever find yourself wondering where your lost cat disappeared, only to find them somewhere they shouldn't even fit into?
The rule is 'If I fits, I sits.'
We've all seen those videos proving cats are actually liquid, cramming themselves into boxes, drawers, shoes, bags and even glass bowls.
If they are fearless enough to cram into a space they may not be able to get out of, what’s stopping them from exploring the next-door neighbour’s garage, or a backyard shed or a new roadwork hole nearby?
Such places are infinitely more interesting since they’re new and exciting, but unfortunately, they can also be unsafe or hard to get out of.
About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs and only 90,000 are cats.
This is mostly due to the high number of stray cats; people just assume your lost cat is a stray and don’t check further.
The second reason is that fewer cat owners put IDs or collars on their cats, while most dogs always have a collar on them.
Below we listed a few of the most common tips on how to find your lost cat or better yet, prevent your cat from getting lost in the first place.
5 tips to prevent your kitty from getting lost forever:
1. Get your cat Bluetooth or GPS tracker
It's the quickest and easiest way to track your cat. You won't limit your cat's freedom, but you'll still be able to check on their location when needed.
There’s a number of pet trackers already available and depending on your needs (and your budget), you’ll either want to go with a Bluetooth pet tracker or a GPS tracker.
Bluetooth trackers are usually smaller, cost less and don’t require a monthly subscription fee and are the perfect lost cat finder if your kitty is mostly an indoor creature.
You connect the tracker to the app on your phone, attach it to your cat’s collar and track your cat. They do have a limited range of how far it will stay connected and how far you can still make it ring. Once out of range (usually over 200 ft away) you’ll see a map with the last known location of your lost cat instead.
GPS trackers are bulkier and heavier than Bluetooth trackers, so your cat might resent having to carry it around and try to get rid of it, but the real-time location tracking will help you find your lost cat more easily.
The battery also doesn’t last as long as with a Bluetooth tracker (usually about 3 months compared to the 2 years on a Chipolo ONE tracker), but it is rechargeable, which isn’t the case with most Bluetooth pet trackers, where the battery is replaceable.
GPS also provides real-time tracking data, so you can always check where your cat is, no matter their location. This, however, comes at a price; GPS trackers have a monthly subscription plan that you have to pay for, on top of the tracker itself.
The best way to decide which pet tracker to go with is to ask yourself how far your cat is likely to go exploring.
If it’s only one house over or a few yards outside your home, then a Bluetooth tracker is what you’re after.
If you're trying to find a lost outdoor cat, then a GPS tracker might be a better choice.
2. Secure your cat's surroundings
Make it more difficult for them to escape in the first place. Put a screen on your door or windows, add a fence to your yard and keep your cat as an indoor cat.
Outdoor cats live half as long as indoor cats since they are exposed to the elements, traffic, diseases and even attacks from other animals.
Train your cat to get accustomed to the indoors. They are more likely to stay in the immediate neighbourhood when they go exploring, which will make them easier to find if they get lost.
3. Train your cat
Yep, cats can be trained. You might already be doing it without even realizing it.
Ever shake a box of treats while calling their name? If so, you’re on the right path.
Training your cat to come when called will prove useful in times when you’re not sure if they’re just hiding or if they’re actually lost. The key is to start early and to teach your cat that bad behaviour such as roaming around the neighbourhood or taking off their collar will not be tolerated.
While training is not 100% effective and instincts may prevail when they get frightened, it will significantly cut down the chances of them wandering off just because they’re bored or curious.
4. Implant them with a microchip
It’s a quick procedure that will provide an extra layer of protection in case your cat ever turns up in a shelter. The microchip the vet implants is about the size of a grain of rice, in fact, they’re so small that a syringe is used to implant them.
Any vet and most animal shelters can implant a microchip and it’s done in only a few moments, in fact, your cat won’t even notice it’s there. It’s the first thing a vet, an animal shelter, the pound or a humane society will look for if your cat ever gets lost and ends up on their doorstep.
Plus, it’s a great way to prove ownership if your cat ever gets stolen.
5. Add an ID tag to their collar
A collar on your cat is an absolute must. Not just so that you can add an ID tag, it will let everyone know your cat is domesticated and it will prevent kind strangers from taking it home and caring for it like it was a stray.
There is a wide variety of ID tags to choose from. You can go with a basic round shape ‘name on the front, phone number on the back’ one or you can opt for a custom shape one, or one that holds additional contact info for you (another phone number or email address) and additional info on the cat’s personality (shy or fearful).
Do regular checks to make sure the tag is still legible and that the info on it is up to date. Make sure the tag hasn’t been damaged in any way and isn’t likely to fall off. If your cat is still growing, also make sure the collar is the right size. A tight and uncomfortable collar is something your cat is likely to get rid of.
Cats get trapped inside all the time
More often than not, lost cats actually get trapped inside because they're exploring new and exciting places and people unaware of their presence just close the door.
To make matters worse, a lost cat that was trapped will also not make a fuss, but rather stay silent and hidden until the door opens again.
Most people remain completely unaware of the new inhabitant and never even notice when they trap the cat inside. Once the door is open, cats will make a run for it and get hopelessly lost all over again due to sheer panic.
2 useful tips for just in case
Take regular pictures of your cat
Given how cute and gracious cats are, you probably already take a ton of pics of your furry companion, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Recent (colour!) photos can be a literal lifesaver if your kitty gets lost.
Make sure to take at least one pic a week that shows off any unique identifiers, for example, unusual colour patterns on their coat or their face shape. Use that photo if you’re printing flyers to hang around the neighbourhood or to distribute to animal shelters.
Keep proof of ownership
If your lost pet is brought to a vet or an animal shelter, you will most likely have to present some proof of ownership.
This is especially important when you’re trying to recover a stolen pet, or someone else is trying to claim them as their own.
Make sure to keep records of their vet visits, immunization records, records of any procedures they might have had and, of course, a recent photo with you.
Ultimately, the decision of which suggestion you’ll be using isn’t really up to you, but up to your cat and what they feel comfortable with.
But do try to make at least one stick, since any one of them should be enough to have your kitty returned safely to you in case it ever does get lost.