Lost Cat: 5 Hot Tips To Prevent Your Cat From Getting Lost
Cats are impossibly curious, and when something captures their attention it needs to be explored no matter the consequences.
They climb into boxes, cabinets, shoes, bags and even glass bowls, so what’s to stop them from exploring the next-door neighbour’s garage, their backyard shed or roadwork holes 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.
This is due to the high number of stray cats (people just assume your cat is a stray and don’t check further) and also because fewer cat owners put IDs or collars on their cats since, unlike dogs, they are mostly indoor creatures.
MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA THEY TRAPPED A CAT
More often than not, cats become trapped inside the new and exciting places when doors are closed. To make matters worse, they 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.
Here's what you can do in advance:
1. Secure their 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.
2. 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.
3. Have a microchip implanted
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.
4. 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.
5. Get a pet tracker
Take advantage of the constant connectivity and track your pet the smart way. 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. You simply connect the tracker to the app on your phone, attach it to your cat’s collar and track your pet. 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 up to a couple hundred feet) you’ll see a map with the last known location of your cat displayed 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. The battery also doesn’t last as long as with a Bluetooth tracker (usually about 3 months compared to the 1 year on a Bluetooth tracker), but it is rechargeable, which isn’t the case with most Bluetooth pet trackers. It also provides real-time tracking data, so you can always check where your pet is. 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 your cat likes to roam around the greater area of your neighbourhood, then a GPS tracker might be a better choice.
2 Useful tips for just in case
Take regular pictures of your pet
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 neighborhood 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.