Cat run away – what to do?

The shock is huge at first when you realize that your beloved cat has run away. But she is not doing it on purpose! Either she is spooked and can’t find her way back or the cause is pure curiosity or hormones.

Whether it’s a house cat or an outdoor cat that hasn’t returned , there’s no need to panic. Many options exist to help you find your missing cat. I have listed them for you in this guide.

Cat missing

You can’t factor the cat running away into your daily schedule. Even if the shock is huge at the beginning, it makes sense to stay calm. Before you rush off in a panic, you should make a few preparations:

  • Take a deep breath!
  • Think about where your cat might be hiding.
  • Approach neighbors about looking in their garages and basements.
  • Take to the search with high value treats.
  • Print out wanted posters to hand out.
  • Inform neighbors, veterinarians, animal shelters and animal registries.
  • Don’t give up!
A cat with tattoo in ear will be found more easily if it escapes
In the past, tattoos helped to find a cat, but today it’s microchips.

In addition to searching for the cat in person, you can use wanted posters to draw attention to your lost pet. Attentive passersby significantly increase the general search radius. You can also display or post the wanted posters at veterinarians in your area.

Then it is definitely helpful to ask in animal shelters and organizations that specialize in finding missing cats. In addition, it is very helpful in advance to identify the cat with a transplanted chip clearly and to register.(More about this below.)

Search for the cat yourself

The first logical step after noticing the disappearance is, of course, the personal search for the runaway pussycat. Especially when they have only recently run away and may still be around, calling and rustling or rattling his favorite food and food bowl will help.

Bengal cat, whole body, sideways on a meadow
You can attract many cats to you with the help of rustling treat packages or the clatter of the food bowl.

Finding the cat will be much more successful if you have a plan and know how your kitty thinks. Merely walking around and calling the name rarely helps. It is better to have something with you that the cat will recognize by the sound. For example, many cats come running as soon as they hear the familiar clack of a treat box. Others come running at the sound of a bell. Since the hearing of cats is much better than that of humans, the cat perceives the sound over a very long distance. Of course, it is even more helpful if you have conditioned your pet to this sound beforehand. An article on cat training, you can find here.

The most likely whereabouts

Cats have a mind of their own, but in a way they are predictable on the run, because their curiosity or even their fear, make them act according to a certain pattern.
The likelihood that you will simply run into the cat on the street is not very high. There are two ways you cat reacts outside: either it gets scared and hides or it is curious and wants to discover everything around.
A fearful cat will usually hide somewhere. That’s why you should first check under the cars parked nearby. You should also look hard under bushes or in small hidden corners. The search radius should not be too large at first, because even a house cat knows outside where it lives approximately and will probably crawl away nearby.

A cat looks out of its hiding place
Luring cats out of their hiding place takes some patience

For a curious cat, as far as the search radius is concerned, the same applies. However, cars, bushes and corners do not have to be the priority. Curious cats have a knack for locking themselves away somewhere. So many interesting things were already lurking behind the open door or window from which she escaped. It can certainly be much more exciting behind the next door.
Most often, the curious four-legged friend still slips unnoticed through a closing door. Or he jumps through an open basement window that he can’t get out of. Or he hides in a room, gripped by fear. Therefore, it is advisable to look especially in basements, garages or sheds in the area. Cats are such good sneakers that the neighbor may not have noticed them when he closed the basement door. So ask your neighbors if you can look in their sheds or basements for your pet.

It is well worthwhile to repeat an unsuccessful search later. Because maybe the animal got close again or was able to free itself. If it is quieter outside in the evening than during the day, the chance of being able to perceive the mewing of the imprisoned cat increases, in order to free him afterwards.

By the way, you must never forget the view into the trees. After all, firefighting missions because of a cat that climbed a tree and didn’t dare come down again are not uncommon.

A young cat sits on a tree
Young or inexperienced cats sometimes can’t come down from the tree

Attract frightened cats

Sometimes you may also see your cat but still not be able to catch it. Be it because she is too frightened by the unfamiliar noises, or because she hasn’t lived with you for long at all and therefore doesn’t have enough confidence to come back right away.

It can be very helpful to look for or lure the animal during the night. Especailly cats, they are often overwhelmed by the new stimuli outside their usual environment and instinctively look for a place to hide. Then in the evening, when it’s quieter and the noise from city traffic and lots of strange people and dogs has been minimized, you have a better chance of your frightened cat hearing you and daring to come out of hiding.

Frightened kitten
Coaxing frightened kittens back out of their hiding places can require patience.

Sometimes cats also run away because they had a fight with their fellow cats. Then it is important to attract them and rebuild their trust. She should again associate positive things with home. This can happen by giving her food near the house. You can also put a cat house outside for them during the transitional period, where she can retreat and in or in front of which she has food and water. This way you tie her to your home, but also give her the space she seems to need at the moment. With time, she will feel more comfortable with you again and perhaps move back in altogether.

Preparation of a profile

Profile cat
Profile cat

Generally, it is helpful if you have a recent photo of your cat so that you can create a profile if the need arises. This should be as informative as possible. For the profile you need a photo, on which your four-legged friend and their special characteristics are well recognizable. The chances of someone recognizing the animal and informing the owner are much higher if the color, coat pattern and special features are clearly visible in the picture. This can include a single white paw, a torn ear, or whatever visually distinguishes your cat.

A good wanted poster consists not only of the picture of the cat, the date of disappearance and the phone number of the owner. The text should contain as briefly and precisely as possible all other important characteristics of the animal. Important characteristics are, for example, the name, whether the cat listens to it and features that are difficult or impossible to see in a picture. This can be, for example, a particular idiosyncrasy in walking or posture. Of course, you should not forget whether the animal has a collar, tattoo or chip.

We have created a sample profile that you can download here and easily edit in Word.

It can not hurt to prepare the profile. Because then you’ll have a cool head and won’t be too upset worrying about your furball. If you already prepare the profile of your cat, you will not forget any important details. Then, in case of an event, you only have to enter the date and time before printing it out and distributing it locally.

Distribute your cat’s profile

You can distribute the notes on lampposts or trees in your neighborhood.

I would urge you to also display these at the vets, shelters, boarding kennels, or supermarket bulletin boards. On the one hand, you inform the responsible authorities that your cat has escaped and on the other hand, you increase the circle of those who can look for your cat.

Mewing cat on a meadow
The more people looking for your cat, the greater the chance of finding it.

For even wider distribution, you can additionally place wanted ads on the Internet (for example, on Facebook in local city groups).

If the search was not successful

If your beloved animal is simply not to be found, besides the posted wanted posters, then reach for the phone. The police can be helpful. It happens that people who have found a cat bring it to the police station because they do not know what else to do with it. The cat will then be registered as lost property and placed in an animal shelter. The local police station can then tell you in which shelter you can pick up your cat again.
Of course, it’s also a good idea to call the animal shelters in the area directly if you haven’t already done so by distributing the wanted poster. There you can leave your number for the staff to call you back should a cat matching the description be dropped off.
Veterinarians are also a good place to start. Maybe the cat was injured and someone took it to one of the nearby vets. If the cat is not identifiable, no one will report that it has appeared. Vets may keep the kitty overnight and then place her in the care of a home they trust.

A red tabby cat in a cage in an animal shelter
Many runaway cats end up in animal shelters

In addition to the self-posted wanted posters, you should also look at other notes on trees, lanterns, facades, etc.. Many people who are not bothered by a strange cat and who have not seen the wanted posters, post them themselves with the message that a cat has been found. Such messages are also often posted on supermarket bulletin boards.

If the free-roamer does not appear for a long time, it is also possible that he has simply looked for a new family. If there is someone in distant neighborhood with other cats or generally considered very fond of animals, the fugitive could also stay there. If the person does not know who owns the cat, they will probably keep it and feed it through until it runs back to the old family.

So you should not give up hope! Again and again we read and hear about cats that have come back to their families after months or years.

Precaution: Microchip

It is often better to take precautions than to suffer afterwards. Even though you certainly don’t like to think about the possibility of your cat escaping.

To make it easier to identify your pet, you can have them chipped by your vet. Each chip has a unique number, which makes the animal thereby uniquely identifiable. However, chipping your favorite alone will not help you yet. You also have to register the chip with the number. During this process, the veterinarian records all important data of the cat and the owner, including address and telephone number.

Register microchip

In addition, you should register the chip with at least one microchip resgitration service. This is very easy to do online:

  • Specify the unique coding of the chip (= transponder number = microchip number)
  • Add the data about your feline and of course your contact details.
  • Save your data.

Already your furball is registered.

This has two advantages:

  1. If someone finds your lost animal, the chip number can be read with a scanner. By looking up the registration services, shelter or veterinarian staff can determine the identity of the owner and notify them within seconds.
  2. As soon as you notice that your pet has escaped, you can report it to the registry and file a missing person report. This will make your runaway cat appear among the missing animals and even more people will be able to search for it.
The drawing shows a cat identified with a reader
Cats with a chip can be uniquely identified by a reader.

The chip is not expensive and remains active for the life of the cat. Your veterinarian can check to see if the chip is still readable during checkups. The system is uniform throughout Europe. Thus, the owner is still identifiable if the cat should have sneaked across the border.

Do not panic

The majority of runaway cats reappear within a few days. The important thing is that you act wisely.

Go about the search the right way, use great treats and repeat this at different times of the day. Take precautions by keeping an up-to-date wanted poster in your drawer. Have your cat chipped and don’t forget to register it. Inform neighbors, pet registries, veterinarians, animal shelters and boarding kennels about your runaway cat. So you increase the chances of finding your cat.

If this is not immediately the case, repeat your search. You shouldn’t give up hope so quickly!


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