Lost and Found - a Cat Owners Tale.
If your cat goes AWOL it can be a huge worry, there are many hazards out in the world for them to face and your anxious mind will make you aware of every one of them.
Cars, roads, garages and sheds that have been left open then locked up again with your curious one trapped inside… the list is endless.
Friends will tell you that your unfaithful moggy has just moved in with someone new, someone who feeds them delicacies instead of Felix, and sometimes that is the case (ingrates!).
If your cat doesn't have their own cosy bed at home or a favourite chair, if they have to live outside whatever the weather, then it is a possibility.
However, he could be lost. If you love them and want them back, you need to take positive action. (This will also make you feel a whole lot better!).
First - wait 24-36 hours, they could be off having fun and get home under their own steam, tired but happy. Make sure you call their name and rattle the food bowl outside so they can hear if they are in the area.
Second- go out and look for them in the local parks and areas and keep an ear out for any miaows in reply to your calls. Don’t be embarrassed because your timidity might mean they are nearby but don’t hear you!
Third; if they don't show up - litter the area with pictures through doors and on lamp posts. Make sure the neighbours know and ask them to check any out buildings.
Put a good description on the poster so the public feels engaged ie; “My small black and white elderly cat is missing - she is scared of most things and I want her home safely - she has a distinctive white tip to her tail and a red collar - please ring this number if you see her”. People are generally kind and love animals. They will help if they can.
Make sure the poster is waterproofed so laminate it or you can or put it in a plastic folder sheet. Use a colour photograph of your cat that is clear with any distinctive markings on show. Put 25-30 about and tie them to the lamp post securely.
There will be a number that get taken down by unhelpful people (go figure) but ignore that and put enough out to combat it. Put them in areas where people go; park gates, outside shops, on local residential streets etc.
We put ours up for Woody, our lost ginger tom after he had been missing for 3 days. It was a dark wet October evening in South London, as a last ditch effort my husband ran down the road and put one outside Tesco, and this is the one that brought him home.
A local hairdresser saw Woody from the back disappearing into a bush while she was walking her dogs & she snapped a quick picture, the poster she had seen had been taken down so she called her vet & sent the picture, who then called my vet - who then called me while I was on a bus going to a meeting and sent me the picture!
We are a nation of pet lovers, people are genuinely amazing and they will call - you will be surprised.
You will need to scoot over to the area of the possible sighting, and above all be prepared for it to NOT be your cat (but it might be!).
Take a cat carrier with you if you can as well as some food and the cat bowl for tapping and calling.
Four; Tell the your vet - actually tell all local vets! If you pop a poster into the clinic they will display it, and if any good samaritan brings in an injured cat, they will know if they are yours and will call you.
Five - is your cat chipped? If so - good move! Call the company and tell them he is missing, they may well get notified if he gets found and scanned, they will also notify all vets in the area.
Six: If your cat has a littler tray leave it outside or scatter the used litter through the garden - the smell of their territory can drift quite far and may remind them of the direction they live in. The same works for beds and blankets - you can hang the cat blanket on the line and again their scent will act like a flag!
Seven; has your area got a local Facebook page? I'm sure they will have, put a post on there…. You will generally reap a lot of kind words and suggestions.
Eighth - If you have recently moved you will need to repeat numbers 1,2 and 4 but in the area you have moved from if you can. There are tales about cats travelling back to their old home so you have to cover that base too. As a minimum notify the local vet.
Nine - keep the faith - I had a full month of worry until the local business owner spotted Woody in the park. This was a park I had searched in a half hearted way not believing he could get over the railway line. I left work, scooted round to the local hairdresser who had seen her. She left a customer mid cut to show me where she had seen him and I had him home within 30 minutes.
I'm not sure who was more relieved to see whom as he was in a shocking state after a month and weighed only 2 kgs.
Once home I would suggest you whizz them to the vet for a check up. If it has been an extended period make sure you encourage them to drink, and if you can get some of the vet diet 'easy to digest' food for a few days, it will help them to recover more quickly as it is high in fat and nutrients. Keep an eye on their recovery, any cuts or split paws may start to fester and need antibiotics.
Ten- Finally - after the relief has subsided and the stray is fed, watered and has calmed down - you will need to go and take down the posters. If you had a good response and a few calls of sightings (whether correct or not) you may want to put a sticker on that says “FOUND - Thank you for your help”.
After all, it's nice to be nice!
I hope these tips help. I tried them all and got Woody back who, 4 years later, hasn’t got lost again despite a move to Scotland.
Meet Woody below - just found & exactly 5 years later!
Join me next time, or check out my next blog post when I cover "Travelling with cats on long journeys”.