First, don’t panic too soon - cats often go ‘missing’ and then arrive home late, or even the next morning, wondering what all the fuss is about. So, give them a few hours at least before you take action, then print off this page so you can tick off each item as you cover it.
Action Point 1 - CHECK in and around your home and garden:
every room in your house / loft / cellar / all cupboards
behind curtains / under duvets / behind settees / under beds
chimneys / dustbin / water butt / compost bin / sheds / garages
green houses / outside toilets/ vehicles / gardens / hedgerows
check under nearby cars, also check engine spaces under car bonnets and in wheel arches
if you are having building work done, check under floorboards and in any holes large enough for a cat to get in
Action Point 2 - ASK the Neighbours:
Ask your neighbours to check their sheds, garages etc. Visit houses at least 10 doors in both directions, on both sides of your road, and also any houses whose gardens back onto yours. Take a photo with you, and leave them your phone number.
Make a note to go back to any neighbours who weren't in when you called. Just popping a note through the door doesn't always guarantee they will check!
If your lost cat is
Petlog: 0844 4633 999
Action Point 3 - PHONE Calls to make: (N.B. the earlier you report your cat missing, the more likely that he/she will be found)
If your cat is Microchipped, call Petlog: 0844 4633 999 so that they can flag your cat as missing, and also to check any 'found cat' reports in your area, (lines are open 365 days a year 24/7). Every vet and rescue centre knows their number and they are nearly always the first port of call when a lost animal is brought in.
RSPCA helpline, as they match up lost & found cats across the UK: 0300 1234 999
all local vets practices (not just your own vet), for details of vets in your area go to: www.any-uk-vet.co.uk
your local council’s Environmental Health Department. This can be a difficult call to make, but they will be able to tell you if a cat matching your description has been found killed on the road. Unfortunately most councils have no facility for checking for microchips, so they will not contact you in this circumstance.
Action Point 4 - REGISTER your cat's details here (and check same for corresponding ‘cat found’ notices):
Action Point 5 - POSTERS! Make up a "Lost Cat" Poster / Flyer with the following details:
(N.B. If you have Pet Insurance check your policy, as some help with the cost of advertising or a reward for a lost cat)
your poster should include a photograph of your cat (people remember photos better than descriptions)
a brief description of your cat, (leave out an important detail, that way if someone contacts you saying they have found your cat, you can check that extra detail with them to know if they are genuine).
date and place your cat was last seen
contact telephone number
Get plenty of copies made, and distribute as follows: (IMPORTANT NOTE: if you are under 18 years of age, please don't distribute leaflets alone after dark, take an adult with you or go in daylight hours):
post them through every door in your immediate area
display at: post offices, supermarkets, pet shops, boarding catteries, vets, library, launderette, hairdressers, pubs
and at: newsagents, fish & chip shops, corner shops, garages, doctors, dentists, police station, schools
and on: notice boards in halls such as scouts, brownies, playgroups, community centre, church halls, bingo halls, youth clubs, social clubs
whilst distributing posters, don't forget to check shop windows for a 'Cat Found' notice, just in case!
tie or tape leaflets to telegraph poles, lamp posts, phone boxes, bus shelters and post boxes (put these posters inside plastic wallets to protect them from rain) NB: Do not nail posters to trees. (As well causing a risk of infection in the tree, this can also result in a fine from your local council)
email the poster to friends in the area and ask them to forward to others they know
also display one on your own front gate and in your window
display in car windows - yours and neighbours's cars if they are willing
give a copy to your postal delivery worker, milk delivery worker, window cleaner, lollipop-persons, any regular dog-walkers
offer a reward if you can - it could be a box of chocolates for example, it doesn't have to be money
Action Point 6 - AT HOME do the following:
leave your cat's favourite toy or piece of his (unwashed) bedding in your garden, ideally somewhere sheltered from rain
also leave out an unwashed item of your clothing, which will have your smell on it, again in a sheltered place
also put outside the contents of your hoover bag and/or any used litter from your cat's tray
All the above will have familiar smells on them, and may help to keep your cat in the area, or even guide him home
go out into your garden and around the immediate vicinity of your home late at night or in the early hours, call for your cat and take time to listen for a reply. If your cat is shut in somewhere nearby, this is when you are most likely to hear him.
Action Point 7 - SEARCH your area:
It can be more productive to search for a cat at night when it is quieter, but if you are under 18 years of age please don't go looking for your cat alone after dark, always take an adult with you.
take some dry food, and a cat carrier with you, or if your cat hates carriers take a pillow case!
walk around your local area, paying particular attention to any garages, lock-ups, skips and empty properties
make a note of any empty houses for sale, and contact the estate agent in case they have shown someone round and shut the cat in
call for your pet by name (you may feel daft at first, but this often works) and take time to listen for a reply
shaking a box of his favourite biscuits, or squeezing a favourite squeaky toy may help
stop regularly, and listen - give your cat a chance to answer your call
stay in one area long enough for your pet to reach you if he is in the vicinity
Action Point 8 - OTHER Suggestions:
place a "Lost - Cat" advert in local newspapers, and also check the same for any "Found - Cat" adverts
contact local radio stations (they will often broadcast lost & found appeals)
post details on lost & found registers and websites - details at the bottom of this page
check the “Found a Pet” galleries (searchable by area) to see if the cat has been reported found, here: www.animalsearchuk.co.uk
contact the local fire brigade to ask if they have been called out recently to rescue any cats from trees etc.
if your cat has been missing for more than a few days, ask local rescue groups for the locations of any known local feral cat colonies. If your cat has wandered further afield they may latch onto a colony for security, food and company.
if you feel particularly spiritually connected to your cat, you may like to try some visualization techniques, employed by some animal communicators. This is still quite a new and little understood area, and will not appeal to everyone, however if you think this is something you would like to try, print off the following PDF written by a practising communicator »» Lost cat visualization PDF
!! Warning !! The "I've Found Your Cat!" phone call:
Take Sensible Precautions: If someone calls saying they have found your cat, please do not go to see the cat on your own, particularly if you are under 18 years of age. Take an adult friend with you - and a cat carrier of course!
Beware of Hoaxes and Scams: Be on your guard if you are asked to part with money for the return of your cat. Even if you are happy to offer a reward, NEVER hand over money until the cat is safely in your hands. (One scam reported to us even involved the request to arrange a money transfer – don’t be caught out!)
Finally... don't give up hope!
Don’t give up hope, cats can disappear for several days and sometimes weeks particularly in good weather, and turn up unharmed. We know of many cases where cats have been lost for weeks, and even months (and in very rare cases years!), but were eventually reunited with their humans. Cats are extremely resourceful, and will find food, water and shelter in the most unlikely places.
People will often feed a 'stray' cat for some time before it occurs to them that he may just be 'lost'. Microchipped cats are often reunited with their owners when finally the 'stray' is handed into a shelter or has to see a vet. Sadly, still far too many cats found as 'strays' are not microchipped. Microchips are tiny, but they make a big difference to whether a lost cat finds it's way home or not.
"He's home!" - When your cat comes home:
After you’ve made a big fuss of him/her and given them their favourite dinner, please inform any authorities who have been asked to look for them, and retrieve the posters you distributed round town!
Ellie re-appeared, meowing for help on a 20 ft high ledge, after being trapped in an old mill for 11 days.
Minimise the risk of Losing your Cat: Neuter » Microchip » Safety Collar
»» FOUND A CAT? - Here’s what to do...
If the cat will let you approach him, make up a paper collar with a note on saying: "If this is your cat please call this number...", so that you can ascertain whether the cat is definitely stray. Place it round the cat's neck and secure the two ends with a small piece of seloptape (don't put selotape right round the whole thing as that can be dangerous if the cat gets caught up anywhere). If no-one calls in 24 hours you can be fairly sure it is most likely lost or stray, then proceed as follows...
A simple Cat Shelter
if the cat is hungry, please feed it, and provide clean water, (not cows milk, as many cats and kittens are lactose intolerant)
If you cannot take it into your home, please make sure there is somewhere dry and waterproof outside for shelter. This can be as simple as a cardboard box covered with a bin liner or clingfilm, and weighted down against the wind, or tucked under a bush for stability. Ideal bedding to put inside is a thick layer of straw, which acts as a heat-conserving 'nest'. Alternatively, a jumper or towel will do, but this should be changed regularly as these retain moisture and can encourage mold or mildew.
contact your local animal rescue groups, in case they have been reported as lost - contact details for rescues across the UK appear on our: Shelters Pages
give the cat's description to local vets in case the owner contacts them, and if possible, take the cat to a vet who will check for a microchip - for details of vets in your area go to: www.any-uk-vet.co.uk
phone Petlog on 0844 4633 999, so that they can check their 'lost cat' records for your area.
phone the RSPCA helpline to register the cat's details, as they match up lost & found cats across the UK: 0300 1234 999
Check the “Lost a Pet” galleries (searchable by area) to see if the cat has been reported lost, here: www.animalsearchuk.co.uk
check the lost & found notices in your local paper
make up a small notice saying 'Cat Found' with a description, which can be displayed in local newsagents, shops etc. It is a good idea not to give a full description of the cat, so that if someone contacts you saying the cat belongs to them, you can check those extra details with them to know if they are the genuine owners, and not just someone after a ‘free cat’ (Template ‘Found Cat’ posters can be obtained from the Cats Protection helpline: 03000 12 12 12)
if the owner cannot be traced, and you are not able to adopt the cat yourself, contact your local rescue centre as above, so that they can arrange to take the cat in for rehoming. If you intend to keep the cat, take him to a vet for a health check, and to arrange for him to be neutered and microchipped
Check National and Regional Lost & Found resources for corresponding ‘cat lost’ notices, as below:
LOST & FOUND PETS - REGISTERS
(1) REGIONAL Lost & Found Pets Registers: Most Rescue Centres and Vets keep a register for their local area. Contact these first...
Contact details for cat rescue centres near you...
Just choose your area from the drop-down menu below:
(2) Other REGIONAL Lost & Found Pets Registers...
»» Avon / Bristol - Bristol Petsearch - Tel: 0117 9571505
»» Cheshire / Lancs - (Warrington) Cat Homing & Rescue - Email: email@example.com - Website: www.catchat.org/charlf
»» Derbyshire / Staffordshire: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals - Website: www.petsearchers.org
»» Devon (Plymouth): Lost & Found Pets Plymouth - Website: www.lostpetsplymouth.net16.net
»» Dorset: Dorset Lost and Found Cat Register - Tel/Fax: 01305 751872 - Mob: 07745 219984 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: www.dorsetcatslostandfound.co.uk
»» Essex & Hertfordshire: Herts & Essex Petsearch - Tel: 01279 320511 / 07914 90826 - Emai: email@example.com - Website: www.communigate.co.uk/herts/hertsessexpetsearch »» Ireland (Cork) - Cork Society for the Prevention for the Cruelty to Animals - Website: www.cspca.ie
»» Ireland (Munster)- Munster Lost and Found Pet Helpline - Tel: 021 4287216 / 086 2112850 - Website: www.munsterlostandfound.com
»» Kent: (East Sussex & Kent) Lost & Found Cat Register - Tel: 01580 881620 »» Kent (Thanet) Missing Cats and Strays in Thanet - Website: www.facebook.com/MissingCatsAndStraysInThanet
»» Kent: Tonbridge Catwatch, Tonbridge, Kent - Tel: 01732 367895
»» Merseyside: Petsearch L& F Register, Formby, Liverpool - Tel: 01704 870561
»» Oxfordshire: Animal Finders - Website: www.animalfinders.co.uk
»» Shropshire: Shropshire Cat Rescue - Also covering Telford & Wrekin, Powys and parts of Clwyd - Tel: 01743 872857 - Emai: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: www.shropshirecatrescue.co.uk / www.facebook.com/shropshirecatrescue
»» Somerset: (Bridgwater, Burnham on Sea, Minehead) Petsearch - Tel: 01278 653137 - Email: email@example.com
»» Staffordshire / Derbyshire: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals. Website: www.petsearchers.org
»» Sussex: (Eastbourne & surrounds): Rosie's Register - Tel: 01825 873067 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: www.rosies-register.co.uk
»» Wales: (Dyfed) Animals Lost & Found, Penllwyn Horeb, Llandysul, Dyfed, SA44 4JJ - Tel: 01559 362800
»» Warwickshire: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals - Website:www.petsearchers.org »» Yorkshire: South Yorkshire Pets Lost & Found - Website: www.syorkspetslostnfound.co.uk
»» Yorkshire: Leeds area: Petwatch - Tel: 0113 268 9973 (please only call between 9am - 5pm) »» Yorkshire (West): (Dewsbury / Wakefield) Independent Cat Rescue - Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: www.catchat.org/indielost
(3) NATIONAL (UK / Ireland) Lost & Found Pets Resources...
»» Animal Search UK – National Database and Helpline for all missing cats. Open 7 days a week: 01432 266 900
»» AVID Pettrack - 24 hour lost & found helpline for microchipped pets only: 0800 652 9977
»» Cats Protection - National Cats Protection Helpline: 03000 12 12 12
»» MIssing Pets Bureau - Tel: 0800 0195 123
»» Petlog - 24 hour lost & found helpline for microchipped pets: 0844 4633 999
»» RSPCA - National RSPCA Helpline: 0300 1234 999
Email Cats Protection:
»» Cats Protection Lost & Found Register: Email your full address and postcode to Cats Protection HQ Helpline - email@example.com they can search for any Lost & Found contacts for CP branches in your area.
Does your organisation run a Lost & Found Pets Register? If so, please email us to get listed on this page:
Purrs of Thanks to Animal Search UK for sponsoring our Lost & Found page!
Minimise the risk of Losing your Cat: Neuter » Microchip » Safety Collar
Credits: Grateful thanks to various RSPCA and Cats Protection branches, and Cat Chat forum members, for their assistance and advice in compiling this page.