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Lost a Cat? Found a Cat? Advice

Help, I've lost my cat! It's every cat owners nightmare. But don't panic - follow our step by step guide to finding a missing or lost cat. Equally worrying is when a stray cat turns up at your door, hungry and looking for help - follow our practical guide on what to do if you have found a stray cat. Also see below for details of lost & found pets registers and helplines, reuniting missing pets with their owners across the country.

Lost Cat AdviceFound Stray Cat Advicelost and found pets registers

Lost Cat | Indoor Cat Lost | Found Cat | Warning! | Don't Give Up! | Lost & Found Pet Registers

LOST A CAT? - Here’s what to do...

Help, my cat is missing! 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 around your home & garden:

  • every room in your house / loft / cellar / all cupboards
  • behind curtains / under duvets / behind settees / under beds
  • in and around washing machine / dishwasher / tumble drier / oven / microwave
  • chimneys / dustbin / water butt / compost bin / sheds / garages
  • green houses / outside toilets / vehicles / gardens / hedgerows / wheelie bins
  • 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 neighbouring roads, and also any houses whose gardens back onto yours. Take a photo with you, and leave them your phone number - or better still make up some small flyers for them to keep, which has your cat's photo and your phone number on.
  • Particularly helpful neighbours may allow you to search their garden yourself - your cat may be more likely to come out of hiding at the sound of your voice.
  • 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!

lost petlog logo

Action Point 3 - PHONE Calls to make:

(The sooner you report your cat missing, the more likely it is they will be found)

  • If your cat is Microchipped, call Petlog: 01296 336 579 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). Or visit: www.petlog.org.uk - Every vet and rescue centre knows of Petlog and they are nearly always the first port of call when a lost animal is brought in. If your cat's microchip is registered with a different company, inform them also.
  • Inform all local vets practices (not just your own vet), for details of vets in your area go to: findavet.rcvs.org.uk
  • Inform your local animal rescue organisations: Contact Details for Rescue Centres in Your Area (UK & Ireland)
  • Ring 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 owners.

Action Point 4 - REGISTER your cat's details as below:

(Whilst registering your cat's details, at the same time check any ‘cat found’ notices for your area)  

Action Point 5 - POSTERS! Make up a "Lost Cat" Poster / Flyer, as follows:

(If you have Pet Insurance check your policy; some cover 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, time and place your cat was last seen
  • contact telephone number
  • For a small cost you can get professional, printable 'Missing Pet' posters from www.petsreunited.com
  • Or, design your own poster, and get 50 free copies here: www.doxdirect.com/help/free-missing-pet-posters

Get plenty of copies made, and distribute as follows:
(NB: if you are under 18, please don't distribute leaflets alone after dark, take an adult with you or go in the daytime)  

  • post them through every door in your immediate area, including your road and nearby roads.
  • 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 Please don't nail posters to trees - this can cause infection in the tree, and you could also be fined by 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, 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, 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
  • hang some unwashed clothing or something with your cat's scent on the washing line, as cats can pick up scents on the air 
  • also put outside the contents of your hoover bag and/or any used litter from your cat's tray
  • all the above will smell familiar to your cat, and may help to keep him 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 when things are quieter; call for your cat and then stand still, taking time to listen for a reply. If your cat is shut in 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 a torch (or use the torch on a smartphone) as the beam will reflect cats' eyes in dark places
  • take some dry food, and a cat carrier with you, or if your cat hates carriers take a pillow case!
  • use the camera on a smartphone to zoom in on places that you can't see as well by eye, such as up trees, on rooftops, under bushes, gaps between buildings etc.   
  • 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 or rent, and contact the estate agent / letting agent. They may have shown someone round and shut the cat in, or a previous owner/tenant may have left a cat flap set to in-only.
  • when searching near cars or hedges getting down to a cats' level will make it easier to spot them
  • 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
  • remember to 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 your cat's details and check 'Found' listings on lost & found registers and websites.
  • post your cat's details on the 'Lost and Found' section of the Cat Chat Feline Forum
  • search Facebook for any Lost & Found groups covering your area, and post a photo there
  • 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 a week or more, ask local rescue groups for the locations / contacts for any known local feral cat colonies. If your cat has wandered further afield they may latch onto a colony for security, food and company. Anyone managing a feral colony will notice a newcomer!
  • 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 a 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

Lost an 'Indoor' Cat?:

We strongly recommend that even indoor cats are microchipped. If your indoor cat goes missing, a different approach may be needed to find them, as they will not be as streetwise as a cat who is used to being outdoors. On the plus side, due to being unfamiliar with the environment outside, they are less likely to move very far away. Once the cat is located, extra patience may be needed, as being in unfamiliar territory they may perceive everything as a potential threat - even you!

If your indoor cat is located but won't be coaxed back, you might need to enlist the help of a local rescue organistion to trap them using humane cat-trap. You could also get extra help and advice on the following Facebook page dedicated to 'Indoor cats': Indoor Paws Cat Community.

Latest reports of lost and found cats

!! Warning !! The "I've Found Your Cat!" phone call:

Ask for a Photo: If someone calls saying they have found your cat, ask if they can take a photo of the cat on their phone, and text it to you - then you will know if it is your cat or not. That question may also catch out time-wasters.

Take Sensible Precautions: Even if you think a caller has genuinely found your cat, please do not go to see them 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. Asking for a photo of the cat can catch out scam calls. Even if you are happy to offer a monetary reward, NEVER hand over money until the cat is safely in your hands. One scam reported to us involved the request to arrange a money transfer – don't be caught out! Scammers have even been known to pose as a rescue organisation pretending the cat has been handed in, and asking for money to return your cat - please be aware that no rescue centre would ever ask for payment to return your own cat to you!

Finally... don't give up hope!

lost and found catsDon’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. Find out more about the procedure and benefits of this, on our Microchipping Your Cat blog post.

"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!

Minimise the risk of Losing your Cat: Neuter » Microchip » Safety Collar

FOUND A CAT? - Here's what to do...

1. Locate an owner locally: If the cat has a collar, firstly check for any ID tag or phone number. If not, and 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 lost or a stray, or whether he is just visiting other houses for extra food! Place it round the cat's neck and secure the two ends with a small piece of seloptape (don't put selotape around the whole collar as that can be dangerous if the cat gets caught up anywhere). If no-one calls in 24 - 36 hours you can be fairly sure it is lost or stray, then proceed as follows:

temporary cat shelter2. Provide food and shelter: Whilst you are making enquiries on behalf of the cat, please ensure it has food, water and shelter. If the cat is hungry, please provide regular food and clean water, (not cows milk, as many cats and kittens are lactose intolerant). If you are feeding a cat outside, sticking to the same time(s) each day will make it easier when it comes to collecting them for rehoming. If you cannot take the cat 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, 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 mould or mildew. 

3. Check for a microchip: Your priority now is to get the cat checked for a microchip, as he may have a worried owner looking for him! All veterinary practices, most animal rescue centres and the animal warden at your local authority will have a microchip scanner. If you can get the cat to a vet yourself, that would be the quickest way of getting him scanned. Otherwise, contact your nearest rescue centres as below.

4. Contact local rescue centres: Contact your local animal rescue organisations, to ask if the cat has been reported as lost, and to give them his description. Also ask them about scanning for a microchip if not already done. Contact details on our shelter listings here: Cat Rescue Organisations - UK and Ireland

5. Contact local vets: Give the cat's description to all local vets; most keep Lost & Found registers. Also ask about scanning the cat for a microchip if not already done. Find vets practices near you here: findavet.rcvs.org.uk

6. Lost & found helplines & websites:

 7. Leaflets & posters: Cats very often get 'lost' only a few streets from their home, so it's a good idea to pop leaflets through doors around the neighbourhood. Depending on your locality, we would recommend leafleting up to six streets away. Also, make up an A4 size 'Cat Found' notice with a description, which can be displayed in local newsagents, shops etc. Don't give a complete description of the cat, so that if someone contacts you saying the cat is theirs, you can check those extra details to be certain they are the genuine owners, and not just someone after a ‘free cat’ (be aware that cats are often obtained under false pretences by unscrupulous individuals for use as 'bait' in illegal dog fights). A template ‘Found Cat’ poster can be obtained from the Cats Protection helpline: 03000 12 12 12

8. A permanent home! If the owner cannot be traced, could you adopt the cat yourself? If you wish to adopt the cat, take him to a vet for a health check, and to arrange for him to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. If you are unable to keep him, contact your local rescue centre, so that they can arrange to take the cat in for rehoming.

Latest reports of lost and found cats

LOST & FOUND PETS - Registers & Helplines

Find local cat rescue centre detailsRescue Centres
Most cat rescue centres and rehoming organisations keep a Lost & Found cats register for their area. If you have lost or found a cat, you should prioritise contacting all your local rescue groups. Contact details here: find your local cat rescue organisations

Directory of Vets Practices UKVets Practices
Most, if not all Veterinary Practices keep a register of cats reported Lost or Found. They will also keep a log of cats brought in as a 'stray', or following a road accident. Contact details for your local vet surgeries (UK only) here: findavet.rcvs.org.uk

Animal Search UK – 24 hour National database and helpline for missing cats: 01244 355 247 
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: 01296 336 579

Email Cats Protection: 
Cats Protection Lost & Found Register: Email your full address and postcode to Cats Protection HQ Helpline - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. they can search for any Lost & Found contacts for CP branches in your area.

Lost & Found Websites (Nationwide Coverage):
Pets Reunited Lost and Found Pet Website

Featured Lost & Found Pets Register: Register your missing pet, and search Found pets at PetsReunited.com
Animal Search UK: Free website for Lost & Found Pets; post 10 pictures free of charge: www.animalsearchuk.co.uk 
Cat Aware: Free resource for Lost and Found Catswww.facebook.com/CatAwareFriends
Cat Chat Forum
: Post details here under 'Lost & Found': the Cat Chat Forum 
Cat Lost: Free site to advertise lost and found cats: www.catlost.com
 - Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Lost and Found: www.ispca.ie/lost_and_found 
Lost and Found Pets Ireland: Reuniting Pets & Owners in Ireland: www.lostandfoundpets.ie 
Lost-Cat (Great Britain): A free site to advertise Lost & Found cats: www.lost-cat.org 
National Pet Register: Lost & found register for all types of animals (UK): www.nationalpetregister.org
Pawboost: A database of lost and found pets: www.pawboost.com
Pets Bureau
: Offering a 24-hour pet identification and reunification service to protect pets: www.petsbureau.co.uk
Petlog: The largest pet reunification service in the UK: www.petlog.org.uk
Pet Located: Posting a 'pet found' is free. There is a small fee for listing a lost pet: www.petslocated.com
Pets Reunited: A searchable, UK wide database of lost and found pets: www.petsreunited.com
Scanner Angel: 
Reuniting lost microchipped pets with their owners: www.scannerangel.com
Siamese Cat Club Welfare Trust
: Lost & Found Siamese: www.siameserescue.org.uk
White Boomerang: Register Lost & Found cats across the UK: whiteboomerang.com

Lost & Found Registers (Regional Coverage)
Note: these are only the ones we know of - search online - there will be others! 
Facebook often has local lost and found groups for pets in your area. 

Avon / Bristol
- Bristol Petsearch - Tel: 0117 9571505
Bristol / South Glos - Lost & Found Pets in Bristol & South Gloucestershire Website: www.lostandfoundpetsinbristolsouthglos.co.uk
Cheshire / Lancs - (Warrington) Cat Homing & Rescue - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cornwall - Pirate FM have a list of lost and found cats on their website: www.piratefm.co.uk/listings/lost-and-found-pets
: Missing Cats Cumbria - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/missingcatscarlisle/
Devon: Cats Lost & Found in Devon - Facebook: Cats Lost & Found in Devon
: Dorset Lost and Found Cat Register - Tel/Fax: 01305 751872 - Mob: 07745 219984 - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Essex: Petsearch South East - Tel: 07724 075473 - Website: www.petsearchsoutheast.co.uk
Essex & Hertfordshire: Herts & Essex Petsearch - Tel: 01279 320511 / 07914 90826 - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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
Ireland (Ulster) - Pets Lost and Found in Northern Ireland - Visit their Facebook Page
Kent: Animals Lost & Found in Kent - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Website: www.animalslostandfoundinkent.co.uk
Kent: (East Sussex & Kent):
Lost & Found Cat Register - Tel: 01580 881620
Kent (Thanet): Missing Cats and Strays in Thanet - Facebook: MissingCatsAndStraysInThanet
Kent (Whistable / Herne Bay): Bubble 2 Bay M.I.S.F.A - Facebook: Bubble 2 Bay M.I.S.F.A
: Tonbridge Catwatch, Tonbridge, Kent - Tel: 01732 367895
Leicestershire: Lost & Found Pets in Leicester & surrounds: Lost & Found in Leicester Facebook
London (Within M25):
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - Tel: 020 7627 9245 (8am - 7pm) or complete their lost pet form: Lost A Cat
Peterborough: Peterborough's Lost Pets Website: www.peterboroughslostpets.co.uk/cats
: Portsmouth Cats Lost, Found & Rehomed Website: www.portsmouthcatslostfoundandrehomed.co.uk
: Shropshire Cat Rescue - Also covering Telford & Wrekin, Powys and parts of Clwyd - Tel: 01743 872857 - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Website: www.shropshirecatrescue.co.uk / www.facebook.com/shropshirecatrescue
Sussex: (Eastbourne & surrounds): Rosie's Register - Tel: 01825 873067 - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosies.register
West Midlands: Cat Alert - Free register of lost & found cats - Website: www.catalert.co.uk
(West): (Dewsbury and surrounding areas) Independent Cat Rescue - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Know of any other Lost & Found Pets Registers? If so - please let us know! Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Minimise the risk of Losing your Cat: Neuter » Microchip » Safety Collar