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
  • 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!

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.
  • Call RSPCA helpline, who match up lost & found cats across the UK: 0300 1234 999
  • Inform all local vets practices (not just your own vet), for details of vets in your area go to: www.any-uk-vet.co.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 and place your cat was last seen
  • contact telephone number

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
  • 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
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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
  • 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 - Suggestions:

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 has previously had access to the outdoors. There is some good advice to help you find a lost indoor cat on the Indoor Paws Website.


!! 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!

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.


"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 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 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: www.any-uk-vet.co.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.


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

Vets Practices Online Directory 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: www.any-uk-vet.co.uk

Helplines 
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
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 - 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):
A Missing Pet: Online lost and found pets register, plus ready-to-print Lost/Found posters: www.amissingpet.co.uk 
Animal Search UK: Free website for Lost & Found Pets; post 10 pictures free of charge: www.animalsearchuk.co.uk 
Cat Aware: Free website for Lost and Found Cats www.cataware.co.uk
Cat Chat Forum
: Post details here under 'Lost & Found': the Cat Chat Forum 
Doglost: A computerised 'lost and found' register for both cats and dogs across the UK: www.doglost.co.uk 
ISPCA - 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 My Cat: A free site to advertise Lost & Found cats: www.lostmycat.org 
Lost Your Pet: Posting a 'pet found' is free. There is a life-membership fee for listing a lost pet: www.lostyourpet.net 
My Moggy: Lost & Found cats across the UK - www.mymoggy.com 
National Pet Register: Lost & found register for all types of animals (UK): www.nationalpetregister.org 
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!
Avon / Bristol - Bristol Petsearch - Tel: 0117 9571505
Cheshire / Lancs - (Warrington) Cat Homing & Rescue - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cumbria: Missing Cats Cumbria - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Website: www.missingcatscumbria.co.uk
Derbyshire / Staffordshire
: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals - Website: www.petsearchers.org
Dorset: 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 Iredland - 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: Tonbridge Catwatch, Tonbridge, Kent - Tel: 01732 367895
London (Within M25): Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - Tel: 020 7627 9245 (8am - 7pm) or complete their lost pet form: Lost A Cat
Merseyside: Petsearch L& F Register, Formby, Liverpool - Tel: 01704 870561
Northern Ireland: NI Pet Find- Website: www.nipetfind.co.uk
Shropshire: 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
Somerset: (Bridgwater, Burnham on Sea, Minehead) Petsearch - Tel: 01278 653137 - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staffordshire / Derbyshire: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals. Website: www.petsearchers.org
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. - Website: www.rosies-register.co.uk
Warwickshire: Petsearch - Free register of Lost & Found animals - Website: www.petsearchers.org
West Midlands: Lost & Found Cats - Free register of lost & found cats - Website: www.lostandfoundcats.co.uk
Yorkshire
(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