Depending on their lifestyles, Indoor vs. Indoor / Outdoor, cats will exhibit different behaviors when lost. After reading these tips for all cats, continue below for tips specific to indoor vs. indoor/outdoor cats.





First Steps To Find Your Cat:
  • Report your cat as missing to your local animal control and animal shelters
  • Create a flier with your cat's picture, description, tear tabs, your information
  • Post your fliers. Indoor Cats: Post flier within a 3-4 block area. Indoor/Outdoor Cats: Post flier approximately 1 mile diameter
  • Email the flier to nearby vets and shelters to post on their Facebook page
  • Contact us at info@charlesriveralleycats.org to report your cat as missing and include your flier for us to post
  • Continue with the tips below depending if your cat is an indoor only or indoor/outdoor cat. Be sure to read both, as all cats may exhibit different behaviors when outdoors.


Indoor Only Cats 

Indoor only cats that are not EXTREMELY social have very predictable behavior – they get outside, freak out, and hide the first place they see.

As a result, cats in this situation are typically found a block or so from where they got out. However, they will NOT come to you because they are in self-preservation mode and are hiding in fear. They essentially behave like a feral cat.

The way to get them home is to set out a “kitty buffet” in the same place and same time each night (don’t bother putting food out in the day – the cat will wait until the wee hours to come out and look for food – and sometimes it will take them five or more days to build up the courage to come out to do that). For the kitty buffet, put out lots of stinky stuff – tuna, wet cat food, dry cat food and water.

The water is important for two reasons:
1. Your cat will be dehydrated
2. The water will tell you if the critter feeding at the buffet is a cat (water will be clean and intact) or a wild animal (water will be gone or filthy).

Once they are used to eating in the same place and same time each night, you will remove the kitty buffet and bait a humane trap and trap your cat. You can borrow the trap from us or local animal shelter. Be patient. Several weeks outside is not long at all in the life of a lost cat and one displaced cat.

Indoor- Outdoor Cats

If you have a lost indoor/outdoor cat, they were most likely chased out of the area and do not know how to get home.

In this situation, fliers will be your key tool. Flier far and wide.

Track the calls you get on sightings (if it is your cat). Get the person’s name, phone number, day and time they saw the cat, and location. 

If you are having no luck, I consider hiring a tracking dog. below. This is also where you will find the tracking dogs. They are trained to scent by air and on the ground – all you need is a “scent article” – a bed or blanket or something with your cat’s scent on it. 

For more information on lost cat behavior, recovery and tracking dogs we suggest lostpetresearch.com and missingpetpartnership.org.