How to Find a Lost Cat? 8 Best Way to Get Him Back

Last Updated on July, 2024

First, take a BREATHER! Stay calm! Missing cats are more common than you think! Cats tend to wander the neighborhood chasing rats and whatnot. It’s entirely in their nature to go MISSING sometimes.

We know you are here, reading this article, because chances are, SADLY, your cat has gone missing. Fortunately for you, we have some great pointers which will give you the next course of action in finding your missing cat. 

Quick Summary

First, take a BREATHER! Stay calm! Missing cats are more common than you think! Cats tend to wander the neighborhood chasing rats and whatnot. It’s entirely in their nature to go MISSING sometimes.

First, Search Your Home (Immediate Area) Though indoor cats tend to wander around the neighborhood, your first search point should be YOUR HOUSE.

Get the Community Involved If you’ve done a thorough physical search of your home and neighborhood and still haven’t found your pet, it is time to get the greater community involved.

How to Find a Lost Cat? 8 Things to Do

1. First, Search Your Home (Immediate Area)

Though indoor cats tend to wander around the neighborhood, your first search point should be YOUR HOUSE.

Search through all the cat hiding spots in the house (you know, places that your cat might be hiding).

BEFORE you expand your physical search to include the whole world, look through all the tiny and cozy spots that your cat usually hides in.

(The same ground your cat usually wanders to.)

inside the house

Unless you saw your cat run out the back door, there is a good chance that your lost cat is still inside the house. Your cat could have climbed up the chimney and gotten stuck. Or, maybe, it is under the deck outside, hiding from people (as cats often do.)

You want to do a THOROUGH search of the entire house, both outside and inside, to ensure that your cat is actually LOST.

Try calling the cat’s name during the search to lure it back from where it may be hiding. 

Lost cats are often not lost at all; they are usually stuck somewhere in your own house or may be hiding from you.

If you’ve searched the WHOLE HOUSE, both inside and outside, and there is still no sign of your lost cat, proceed to expand the physical search and get the neighbors involved.

2. Ask Your Neighbors

It’s time to expand the physical search. Alert the neighborhood association, and start a neighborhood search. Cats usually stay hidden within a few houses from their escape point (your home.)

Simply asking your neighbors if they have seen your pet doesn’t cut it. When searching for a missing pet, you must actively search for it if you want your pet found ALIVE. 

Ask your neighbors to SEARCH their homes for the missing pet. Ask them to help you search the neighborhood. The more people you have on your search team, the more likely you will find your missing pet. 

If your cat tends to wander into your neighbor’s property, there is a good chance that they crawled into a tight spot and are stuck, unable to set themselves free. So don’t just ask your neighbor if they have seen your cat. 

Instead, say something like… ***with a worried look on your face – ‘I’ve lost my beloved cat, could you please search your house to check and help me search for it?’

A study led in 2017 stated that most missing cats are found within a third of a mile from where they lived. Hence, most likely, your cat is still within the vicinity of your neighborhood. 

If you’ve searched your neighbor’s homes and the neighborhood in general and still haven’t found your missing pet, it is time to EXPAND THE SEARCH even further.

3. Get the Community Involved

If you’ve done a thorough physical search of your home and neighborhood and still haven’t found your missing pet, it is time to get the greater community involved.

It would be best if you printed some lost cat posters with a nice picture of your cat.

You need some lost cat posters if you are going to expand the search to include the WHOLE COMMUNITY.

Once the posters are ready, you will have to break out of your comfort zone and knock on every door in the greater community of your neighborhood and ask people if they have seen this missing cat. 

missing cat notice

Though you can ask your immediate neighbors to search their homes for your cat, you can’t ask everyone in town to search their homes for your cat. 

Just hand out cat posters to as many people as possible (parks, schools, grocery stores.)

This will significantly increase the number of people aware of your missing pet. The more the number of people involved, the more LIKELY you will find your missing cat. 

Though this may sound silly, MAKE SURE to leave your contact information on the lost cat poster; some people forget. This way, if anyone finds a cat that matches the description and picture, they know how to contact you.

Make sure the picture used on the lost pet poster clearly depicts your cat’s description. The posters should be color prints to ensure that the exact color of your missing cat can be identified. 

You can even post this poster in the local newspaper. (Great way to find lost cats)

4. Submit Lost Pet Reports

Pet parents find themselves in an absolute nightmare when their loving pets go missing. Fortunately, some authorities can help you find a lost cat. 

It’s time to expand your search to include the missing animal response network.

Your first point of contact is the LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER. Even if they haven’t already found your pet, local shelters can bravely help increase the chances of finding lost pets.

Animal shelters often search the community for stray pets, and if you give them a profile of your lost pet, they will be able to try to find them for you. 

Lost cats and dogs are reported to these authorities all the time. It is their job to help you find your lost pet. Caring for lost pets is what they do.

Hence submit lost pet reports to ALL the shelters within your vicinity. You can expand your search to the next town and submit lost pet reports there. Who knows, maybe your cat wandered out of town. 

A missing cat could be ANYWHERE, so getting the right people involved will significantly improve your chances of finding your lost cat.

Get ANIMAL CONTROL involved. Animal control (the animal control agency) works to locate stray pets; hence they could have already found your lost pet.

Check with animal control to see if they have found a cat matching your cat’s description. You should periodically check with them to see if they have found your cat (some cats show up MONTHS later.)

REMEMBER – animal shelters will only keep your pet in the shelter for around 72 hours before putting them up for adoption. Hence ensure to contact these authorities at the EARLIEST.

If your cat has a microchip, you should call the microchip company at the EARLIEST to inform them of a lost pet. This will dramatically improve your chances of finding your lost pet. 

5. Use the Internet and Social Media

The internet gives you access to more people you can involve in the search for your lost cat.

Social Media is used by practically everyone these days and is a great way to spread the word and expand the search.

You can place lost cat ads on online platforms such as Craigslist and offer a small reward to anyone who helps you locate your missing pet.

You want to use the internet to spread the word as much as possible. Using Facebook, you can share lost cat posts on local groups.

a human using mobile phone

Remember, you want to laser-focus your search on the locality. Use the internet to get the lost cat posters in front of as many eyes as possible. 

Many people share lost pets posts on the internet. Find the platform you think has the most reach in your locality and use the internet. You can significantly increase your chances of finding a lost cat.


Use the internet to check pet databases. When you provide these databases with a profile of your pet, they will search through their database to check if they have reports of cats matching that description.

Various national database of pets use facial recognition technology to search through listings of lost pets.

6. Lure the Cat

Cat owners know much about their beloved pets. When dealing with lost cats, you want to use their favorite cat food to entice them to return. 

This could mean leaving food (some of their favorite TREATS) out for them. This can be a great way to lure a cat hiding within the close vicinity of your home. 

TOYS are another excellent way to lure your cat. Anything that your cat has an attachment to, can be used to pull them out of those secret neighborhood hiding spots. (You need to understand your cat’s personality – things they like)

Outdoor cats have a greater tendency to wander the neighborhood. Even if your cat is an indoor-only cat, using various techniques to lure them from wherever they are hiding can be a great way to find a hiding cat. 

7. Set Up Humane Traps

Find a humane trap and set it up. You can either buy or rent one of these traps.

Ideally, you want to set up the trap in the last known location of your lost cat.

So long as the trap is humane, it won’t hurt your pet and could work to help track down your missing friend. 

Most of these traps are completely humane. You use water and food, which are placed into the trap, to lure your cat in.

Once inside, the trap door will safely shut.

Humane Trap on the floor

Don’t worry; they won’t cause any harm to your pet. Just ensure you use humane traps.

You have to be careful when opening these traps. When opening the trap door, be careful; the food and water could easily draw in and trap a wild animal.

8. Hire a Pet Detective

If all else fails, you should consider hiring a pet detective who are masters at finding lost pets. They know how to find a lost cat and can significantly increase your chances of locating your missing feline.

“When cats are displaced into an unfamiliar area, the cat is most likely hiding in silence, often not far from the escape point,” says pet detective Kat Albrecht.

These pet detectives have expert knowledge of how to find a lost cat. They will be able to help you locate your lost cat FAST!

Make sure you have your cat’s picture ready; the pet detective will need a FULL DESCRIPTION to help you find your cat (which probably ran out of the open front door!)

A more significant percentage of lost cats are found alive because pet parents crawl on their hands and feet, looking all over the place for their helpless feline. A pet detective could help you set up a humane trap and use the proper techniques to lure your cat back. 

Things You Need When Searching for a Lost Cat

This is a list of things you would require in your attempts to find a lost cat.

  1. Pictures of the missing cat
  2. Treats and toys to lure them from any hiding spot
  3. Contact details of animal control and pet shelters
  4. Humane trap
  5. Access to any national database of pets.
  6. Baby monitor (leaving a baby monitor near the food set to lure the cat will help you detect faint meows)

Why Do Cats Run Away?

a cat running on the ground

Many cats, especially outdoor cats, usually wander the locality, even if you don’t know they do. It is an entirely natural thing for a cat to roam the neighborhood.

For instance, if your cat has a cat friend in the locality, your cat could unknowingly stray in search of that other cat. 

Even most house cats love exploring the great outdoors (cats, in general, are outdoor creatures.) They love playing with other cats, who could entice them to wander unknown territory leading to them getting LOST

Unless your cat was treated poorly in your household, your cat wouldn’t willingly stray too far. However, if you make things difficult for your cat, your cat could run away and never return.

Myths About Lost Cats

When looking for a lost cat, you will come across many people with a lot of advice. However, only some things you hear are true. There are some MYTHS concerning finding lost cats, which you should be aware of. 

The Litter Box

You may have heard this,

 ‘placing the cat’s litter box outside can be another great way to lure your cat from an outdoor hiding spot. Most cats are drawn to their litter box.’ 

This is not true. Cats are more likely to return because they need food or water, not because you set the litter box outside. 

A Microchip is a Guarantee That I Will Find My Cat

A microchip in no way guarantees that you will find your lost pet. A microchip does not help you pinpoint your pet’s location. Instead, it can be scanned by pet shelters and veterinarians who may find your cat. 

Sure it increases the likelihood of locating a lost pet, but microchips in no way help you track your pet’s location. (Unless you try calling shelters to find out if they found a cat with your specific microchip.)

Lost Cats Can Take Care of Themselves

Lost cats, much like any lost creature, will find themselves helpless. Remember, your cat isn’t a wild cat ready to hunt and eat; it needs food, water, and a caring hand to ensure its wellbeing. 

You could fall prey to this myth and call off the search. DO NOT!

Cats Leave Their Home When They are Close to Dying

This is NOT TRUE. There is no scientific base to this statement, and you are confusing cats with wild elephants who usually go to an elephant graveyard close to death. 

Cats don’t simply stray just because they are old. You CAN NOT say that your cat is old and probably ran away because it’s OLD and doesn’t know what it’s doing. This is a MYTH!

Can Use the Same Techniques to Find Lost Cats and Dogs

Dogs and cats are very different breeds of animals. They don’t eat the same food, they don’t make the same sounds, and they don’t behave the same way. 

You CAN NOT use the techniques you would use to find a lost dog to find a cat!

As any pet expert would tell you, cats behave in a very specific manner, and you need to rely on specific techniques to find your lost cat.

What are the Chances of Finding a Lost Cat?

Sadly, not all missing cats find their way home. However, it would be best if you didn’t give up. Studies show that about 60% of missing cases end happily in reunion. 

You should most certainly give it a week or two. This is the time frame in which you will most likely find your lost feline.

Some cats even turn up after MONTHS gone missing. Surely, you don’t want to call off the search too early.

Depending on your search efforts, it is likely that you will be able to track down your lost pet. So DON’T GIVE UP! Please rely on our shared techniques to expand that search as much as possible. 

How to Stop Cats From Getting Lost?

a cat sleeping on the street

You can try to keep an eye on your cat, but it is never possible to always know where your cat is (unless, ofcourse, you use a GPS Tracker).

Your best bet would be a pet containment system or a GPS tracker-enabled ID tag which could all work to help keep your cat from going missing. 

As the myth we explained earlier, a microchip is no guarantee that you will find your lost pet. It is a helpful tracking mechanism; however, GPS trackers are much more reliable. 

Cats, by nature, love the outdoors; hence the best way to ensure that your cat doesn’t get lost is to install a GPS tracker, which will help you monitor your cat’s position and track its whereabouts.


If you’ve thoroughly searched through the immediate area and still haven’t found your cat, you NEED to expand the search as much as possible.

The more people you involve in the search, the better the chances of finding your lost pet. 

If you find your cat stuck on some tree, call the fire department, which can help you retrieve your cat. Otherwise, if you are still searching, rely on all the search methods we have discussed to expand your search.

Remember, cats, by nature, are outdoor creatures. No matter how careful you are, your cat will wander. It would be best if you considered a GPS tracker to ensure you have greater control over locating your lost pet.

If you need some direction on choosing a GPS tracker, we recommend you check out this article on the best GPS Cat trackers.


Yes, cats can find their way home if lost, although it depends on the distance the cat has wandered.

Yes, GPS trackers are a good option for finding lost cats, as they provide an accurate means of tracking a cat’s movements and mapping its exact position.

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Jason Bruno is a cat product reviewer and cat owner. He has two cats, one is a Maine Coon and the other is a Bengal. He has been a cat owner for over 10 years and have been involved in the Bengal cat community for over 5 years. He has experience with a variety of cat products, from food and litter to toys and furniture. He is passionate about helping other cat owners find the best products for their cats and providing honest reviews.

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