Before you panic, double check your home. Many "lost cat" cases are really cases of a cat who found a new and unexpected hangout spot inside the home.
If you know without a doubt your pet is lost, begin the search immediately. Indoor only cats tend to panic when they find themselves outdoors. They typically find the first suitable hiding spot and stay there. One study found that 92% of indoor only cats were found within a five house radius of their home, so keep your search close to home!
Alert all of your neighbors and provide them with a photo of your cat and reliable contact information to reach you. Let them know not to chase your cat. Ask them to search their property for your cat, or ask them if you can search with them.
Search under porches, under and inside sheds, and keep in mind that cats can fit in incredibly small places. Bring a flashlight to check dark places, cat eyes will reflect back at you!
A trap may be necessary to capture your cat. Cats often panic outside and may not recognize or come to you. Call your local shelter and they may be able to rent you a trap and instruct you on how to use it.
spread the word
Social media goes a long way to help lost pets reunite with their owners. Check to see if your town has a facebook group and make a post about your lost pet with a clear full body photo. Many states have their own lost and found pet facebook groups as well.
Submit lost reports to lost and found pet online registries. Beware that there are some online registries that sadly scam lost pet parents, so do your research.
Speak to as many neighbors and business owners as you can in person. People are much more likely to keep an eye out for your cat if they have spoken to you in person.
Create bright, large, simple neon flyers. In large letters include "LOST CAT" at the top, print a full 8.5x11 clear photo of your cat and a brief description and phone number. Do not include unnecessary information. Post these at intersections where drivers will be stopped. Don't get wordy as it makes drivers less likely to read it! Less is more.
call for help
There are many local organizations who may be able to assist you in keeping an eye out for your pet if they are made aware.
Call your local non emergency police department line to alert them that your cat is missing. Give them a description and a location last seen.
Call every local shelter and veterinary clinic to alert them of your lost cat in case a good samaritan brings them to these establishments. Check to see if your local shelters have the ability to submit lost and found reports.
If your cat is microchipped, reach out to the company to let them know your cat is missing and to ensure all of the information registered to your chip is still accurate.
Call your friends and family to assist you in searching for your cat. The more area you are able to cover, the better! It is less likely that a person will be able to capture a lost cat than a lost dog, and they are often mistaken for an indoor/outdoor cat or an unowned feral cat. Boots on the ground searches are the bread and butter of finding a lost cat!
don't give up
Looking for a lost pet can be so difficult and discouraging at times, but don't give up.
There are many cases of pets being reunited with their owners after long periods of time.
Lost cats will often hide for shocking amounts of time without leaving their hiding place. Often cats will not venture from the first place they hid until they are desperate for food.
Your continued efforts in physically searching your cat will go a long way. Double check hiding spots you have checked before, as your cat could relocate!