Carol Preuett, Owner

Did you lose your cat (or dog)? Our precious tuxedo cat, Kokomo, slipped out the front door last fall, and we instantly went into panic mode. We searched and searched and after about seven LONG, EMOTIONAL and EXHAUSTING hours, we heard him wimpering and trapped under our own front porch just as we were ready to call off our search for the night.

Here are some tips to follow if you should ever lose your cat (or dog). Perhaps you have already done some of this, but these are always my suggestions in this situation.

In a nutshell, the best case scenario is that EVERYONE is informed that you are looking for your lost pet. In a perfect world where money is no object, a BIG reward is offered, ads are bought in ALL media including radio stations, newspapers, etc.. But in any scenario there are many things you can do to try to get your beloved pet back home.

Canvas the neighborhood. I simply cannot state this strongly enough. It’s about perspective … if we were talking about a lost child we would knock on EVERY DOOR in a several block radius. This is important! You need to knock on ALL doors and hand out your contact info. In particular, talk to the children in the neighborhood. Kids will often notice a cat that is ‘different’ or one they haven’t seen around before; whereas, adults will often drive right past without noticing. Chances are that your cat is not very far from you as we speak, so totally canvas the neighborhood. If you knock on a door and no one is home, make a note of it and come back later when you can talk to someone at that address.

Wait a couple of days and canvas the neighborhood again. When talking to people, always ask and observe other cats. Find out who has cats in the neighborhood that are indoor/outdoor cats. This is important, because lost cats will eventually tend to hang out with other cats — ‘cats always find each other’. A lost cat KNOWS where other cats live in the neighborhood, because he can see them- he can smell them– he can smell the used kitty litter when people put their trash out, etc. A lost cats gets hungry and finding other cats means finding food — think like a cat.

Offer a reward. Money talks. And MORE money talks loudest. Chances are the person who finds your pet will not accept the money when all is said and done, but Money does tend to encourage folks to take action and help with your search efforts. Enough said.

Call ALL local shelters, Vet offices, Pet Sitters and Police. And KEEP CALLING – one call is NOT enough. Make sure they know you are looking for this lost pet. Call the COUNTY shelter as well as ALL other shelters- humane society, rescues etc. AC PAW, Cherryland Humane Society, etc. Notify police and local pet sitters such as Whisker Sitters in Traverse City, as well. Call ALL veterinary offices, hospitals and clinics. Sometimes when a pet gets lost they get injured and good people take them to a vet when they find them, etc. It’s important to note that there are a lot of different people who work at these places and just because you have spoken with one person doesn’t mean they have passed the word on to everyone else that works there- get the picture? Sometimes one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing ok? Some employees are more efficient and concerned than others…

Call Your Local Road Commission. While a bit ‘grim’ it’s also important to find out who is responsible for removing killed or dead animals from the streets and roadways– sometimes a lost pet gets killed and the local city workers or whoever get a call to go out and remove it– so it’s possible a pet can get lost and be killed in a tragic manner and it’s body removed without the owner being aware of any of it.

— ALSO, when you talk to shelters, vet offices, etc., ASK THEM for suggestions on finding your pet– they may have some insight on animal behavior they can share and/or real experiences they have had in finding a lost pet that may help you in this task.

Flyers and advertising. Craigslist is EXCELLENT! Run ads in the PETS column as well as LOST AND FOUND and keep re-doing your ad on a regular basis so that your ad stays close to the top of the list each day. But remember that not everyone has access to or uses craigslist, so run ads in the local papers as well. Photo ads always get more attention. Even if your lost pet is a black cat or an orange tiger cat and some might think they “all look alike”. The purpose of a photo in a print ad is simple … PEOPLE LOOK AT PICTURES and the whole point is to make sure that people READ your ad, so having a photo in your ad or on your flyer will garner ten times more attention than an ad or a flyer without a photo. Paper the neighborhood with flyers and hand them out as well – be liberal with them– flyers can be printed quite inexpensively. Post flyers all over town — everywhere you possibly can, and keep track of where they are posted so you can replace them each week when they get routinely taken down, etc.

Don’t give up too soon and keep watching at home, too. Sometimes it takes weeks or months to find a lost pet. Stay on target. Keep watch at home. Pets who have been living at the same home for a period of time tend to have an internal “compass” setting for that place and often do not stray very far because they are “drawn” to the place they are familiar with. KEEP FOOD ON YOUR FRONT PORCH AND BACK PORCH!! Weather permitting, it’s also not a bad idea to lay some personal clothing of yours outside your house near the food. (A piece of clothing that has your scent on it). Watch and study other cats in the neighborhood. A lost cat will watch the other cats — other cats are eating ‘somewhere’, and a lost cat wants to know what they’re eating and where so they will naturally gravitate towards other cats out of instinct. Walk the neighborhood, and call for your pet. A lost pet is looking for something that they remember … something or someone familiar. A familiar voice, a familiar scent, a familiar sound like one of their toys, etc.

Refer to the internet for more help and suggestions. Sometimes you can find helpful tips and success lots pet stories on blogs just entering the plea of, “I lost my cat! How can I find him?”. And read the responses carefully.

As the owner and operator of Whisker Sitters … Dog & Cat Sitting In Their Own Home, I sincerely hope I’ve been some help to you, and hope you’ll keep me posted if you should ever lose your beloved pet. It’s absolutely terrible to lose a pet, and my heart goes out to you.

If you have other hints or tips that may be helpful to our blog readers, or have a lost & found success story to share, please add your comments below.

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