It might seem like tempting fate, but there are some simple things you can do to pre-plan for this eventuality.
- Take lots of photos of your cats. Having good quality pictures from every angle that show their distinguishing features, will be an absolute godsend, should they ever go missing.
- Put your phone’s contacts to good use. Add vet’s numbers, microchip company, the council, highways agency etc.
- Get your cats neutered and chipped. Neutering will greatly improve your cat’s chances of survival and make it less likely they will go missing in the first place. Microchipping will greatly increase their chances of getting home to you if found. Without it, they will most likely be taken in by someone, or end up in a rescue and re-homed.
- Search the house and garden thoroughly – Cats love cosy hiding places, check cupboards, wardrobes, under beds, in the washing machine or tumble dryer, sheds, garages, under bushes, up trees, bins and water butts, vehicles etc. Make sure your cat flap, if you have one, is unlocked, so if they return while you are out they can get in.
- Go out and call your cat taking something with a familiar sound with you, such as a packet of treats or biscuits, toys with bells etc. Keep doing this often, especially at times when it is quiet such as very early morning and late at night. Always call then wait and listen, before moving on.
NOTE - Cats can go into a self-preservation silent mode when scared and this can last for as long as 7-10 days. Panic mode will then set in and that is when they will meow for help. So it is important to not give up and keep searching the same areas over and over again. It is entirely possible for your cat to be shut in a garage or shed next door, but not respond to your calls for some time, so you have to keep trying.
- Speak to your neighbours and ask them if you can look in their gardens, sheds and garages yourself. Also ask them to leave the doors open for a while in case they are hiding out of sight and don’t respond to your calls.
- Put notes through the doors of any neighbours who are out, but make sure you go back in person later. Cover both sides of your road and at least 10 dwellings each way from your home.
- Check all the surrounding roads, including hedges, front gardens and under parked cars, in case your cat has been involved in an accident. Don’t assume your cat wouldn’t have crossed a main road. It may have been chased or tried its luck at night, and now be too scared to cross back.
- If your cat is microchipped inform the chip company that they are missing. Also go to http://scannerangel.com/en/lostpet.php and register them.
- If you are on Facebook join Lost and Found Cats in Norwich where you can post pictures and a description of your cat and this will be shared across the many lost cat groups. You will also find lists of local vets and rescues, which you should contact to notify them of your missing cat.
- Put your cat’s bedding outside and if it uses a litter tray, put that outside as well. Even better bury some of your cat’s poo shallowly near the perimeter of your property.
- Cats have an incredibly keen sense of smell over great distances, so anything with a familiar smell will help to guide them home. Hang unwashed clothes on the line and empty the contents of your vacuum cleaner around the perimeter of your property.
- Make the call you least want to make to the council, as they are often asked to collect animals that have been killed on the roads. This is particularly important if your cat is not microchipped.
- Get some posters and flyers made up and distribute them in ever increasing circles around your home. Include a photo of your cat, brief description, where last seen and when and a contact phone number, preferably a mobile, do not include your name. Also mention if your cat is microchipped and if it was wearing a collar or not. Be sure to leave out some distinguishing features, so you can check that anyone claiming to have found your cat is genuine, and if you offer a reward, do not specify any amount.
- Beware of hoaxers and scammers! If someone calls claiming to have found your cat, don’t go to see the cat alone and if you receive any demands for money, whether you have offered a reward or not, call the police. Do not hand over any reward money until your cat has been safely returned to you.
- Place posters in local shops, vets, community centres, church halls, post offices, notice boards etc. and give flyers to your postman, milkman, paper boys and girls etc.
- If your cat is insured, you may be able to get help with preparing and printing posters and flyers, so worth a call. Do not nail posters to trees as this may result in a fine. Ask permission before attaching them to private fences. Either laminate posters or put them into plastic wallets, then use a staple gun, cable ties or waterproof duct tape to attach to telegraph poles and lamp posts.Register your missing cat on as many websites as possible and don’t forget local buying/selling and community groups on Facebook, as well as lost and found pet groups, both local and nationwide.
- Consider the possibility that your cat may have got into a vehicle. Maybe you had friends visit, or had a delivery that day. Get in touch with the companies or couriers that made deliveries and ask any other visitors to check their cars, including under the bonnet.
- Contact local radio stations, newspapers and any local magazines, they will often run articles and pieces for missing pets.
Dog Lost (they list cats as well)
Norwich City Council – 0344 980 3333
Broadland District Council - 01603 430534South Norfolk District Council - 01508 533633
Highways England (A11, A47, A12) 0300 123 50 00