My pet is missing, what can I do?
Although these tips are written for cat lovers, many ideas will apply to other animals as well!
If your cat goes missing the greatest heartache is often caused by not knowing what has happened to him. Even if you find that the worst has happened at least you can begin to grieve. Here are a few tips that may help you find your cat in the event of him going missing:
The simplest way to ensure ‘peace of mind’, even if your cat is eventually found and the worst has happened, is to ensure that a collar is worn with an I.D. disk. This should display your telephone number and YOUR SURNAME (not the cat’s name). The plastic barrels containing a piece of paper are okay, but over time the paper can disintegrate, the ink can fade and some people have an aversion to touching a dead animal – the barrel system requires them to come into close contact with the body. Far better is an engraved (metal or plastic) disk because this won’t tarnish or fade and is always on display. A good backup is to have your animal ‘microchipped’ by your vet – the animal is then on a register and if it turns up and is ‘scanned’ it can be traced back to you. A cat flap can sometimes keep an adventurous or ‘wandering’ cat closer to the locality of your house because the cat ‘knows’ it can take shelter indoors or maybe get a snack at will, rather than relying on the owner to always be present to open and close doors. The earlier you let people know that your cat is missing the more likely he is to be found. During hot summer months, if the cat is trapped in an outbuilding or garage, time is of the essence – delay can result in death.
Search your own house/garden shed/garage thoroughly, especially if you have recently been clearing things out. Have you checked drawers – especially those under your bed? Check the loft/attic if you’ve been there recently and in airing cupboards. Look for local houses that are being renovated – have they had floorboards up and external doors left open? Ask the builders or owners to search or leaflet the property if no one appears to be there at the time. Have builders been coming and going in vans? We know of suspect cases where cats have climbed into vehicles for ‘a nap’ and been transported for hundreds of miles without the driver ever realising!
Search the immediate area around your house. Take a food bowl and his biscuit tin to use as a rattle. Call his name, close your eyes (it helps to amplify your own hearing) and wait for a few seconds to listen for his meow or cry – he may be out of sight so give him time. Tell as many people as possible as you search – children are very often the best helpers! Look under cars and under bushes in case he is injured and has crawled to a ‘safe’ place.
Place LARGE posters on trees and other suitable places, include a picture. Keep the wording short and concise. Look at the attached example for a template. If you manage to find your animal or he comes home of his own accord, be thoughtful and remove all the posters you have put up – someone else may have lost an animal and need ‘the tree space’! Also it will be a big relief to people who may have been searching, on your behalf, for your cat. Hand out leaflets with more details to local houses, shops, and vets, asking people to check their sheds and garages. Knock at your neighbours doors and ask if YOU can have a look in their garage (sometimes people say they will check, but end up not doing it…).
At night when sound carries and it is quiet call his name out and listen for an answering call. Even ‘quiet’ cats can call out if they are in distress or trapped somewhere. If you locate a cat trapped in a garage or outbuilding and it is apparent that the residents have gone away DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FORCE ENTRY but contact the police. In the short term people have pushed ice cubes under doors or through letterboxes to provide a source of drinking water. At all times be aware of the damage you may be doing to someone elses property if you act alone and consequently think about your own liability.
Inform your local animal rescue groups. Ask your vet for a list of names and numbers. The local council health department usually keeps records of any cats that they have picked up from roads if they have been killed. Although the police don’t seem to deal with lost or injured cats as they do dogs, somebody may have reported one to them.
These hints and tips are only guidelines, but should go someway to being as proactive as possible in helping you find your animal and hopefully being happily reunited.