How do I get my cat back after letting him outside too early after a move?
September 12, 2011 9:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my cat back after letting him outside too early after a move?

I moved on September 1, and followed the advice of keeping a cat inside at a new place until he seems desperate to get outside. So, I let him out about 5 days after the move.

He seemed to be adjusting great--coming and going like normal. Then last Thursday evening, he wouldn't come back inside. (In the past, he's staid away longer during full moons, so I'm assuming this is part of it.)

He hasn't come home since then, but he's still alive as I've had a few neighbors return my phone calls saying they've seen him. The last call was an hour ago--I rushed to the place he was spotted, but couldn't get him to answer my calls. (And the place he's been spotted the most is a wetland that is similar in feel to his favorite hunting ground from old location.)

Any advice on how I get him back and adjusted properly to new location?
posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Do you give him treats? If so, go out and shake the bag. This may sound like bullshit invented for cat treat commercials, but it actually works really well in my experience.

(I later modified this my making a clicking sound every time I gave her a treat, and within a couple of days she would come running full-tilt whenever I made that clicking noise. Those things are like magic.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:26 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Catnip or a smelly can of tuna/cat food.

He is neutered, I hope?
posted by desjardins at 10:12 AM on September 12, 2011

He can smell you and your food. Go out there with his fave eats. Patience is a thing here. Is he accustomed to food noises? (Because yeah, treat-bag-shaking is a real thing.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:27 AM on September 12, 2011

I found my runaway cat (and I hate to speak ill of the recently cremated but really! that cat was a schmuck!) was more receptive at night or very early in the morning when the distractions were fewer. I was able to tempt him close with smelly food and once I'd got him off guard by pretending to be an apricot tree I'd reach down and grab him. Simple. Tapping the can with a spoon was effective too.
posted by firstdrop at 10:34 AM on September 12, 2011

Stand in your back garden / at your front door / in your kitchen and call his name. Sounds silly (ignore neighbours) but worked when something similar happened to me. Also, leaving the back door open whilst banging about and making familiar noises seemed to work – boiling the kettle, cutlery against plates, the sounds of my cat's good bowls being put on the floor, etc.

Hope you get him back.
posted by Gentlemanhog at 11:28 AM on September 12, 2011

Aw, pretty kitties!

Shortly after we bought our house (a mile from where we had previously lived), my cat was so desperate to go outside that he chewed through the screen in the back door. Schiller was 18 by then, and I assumed he had gone off to die.

I kept looking for him anyway, and 16 days later, he turned up in the back yard during a rainstorm - soaked, pissed off, and not at all certain of where he was. Shaking the Pounce can at him got his attention, but we still had to chase him in the rain and throw a coat over him to catch him. After that adventure, he ceased being interested in Outside.

When you get your little gadabout back home, make sure you take him to the vet for a checkup, and don't let him outside without close supervision until he's latched on to the idea of staying in the yard.
posted by MissySedai at 12:57 PM on September 12, 2011

Here's how I got my cat back. Good luck to you and the roaming boy.
posted by virago at 1:32 PM on September 12, 2011

Got him! Thanks for the advice--it didn't occur to me to shake a food canister or bring some favorite wet food out.

In any case, the shaking of the food seemed to work after another neighbor said he spotted him this evening--cat came out of hiding and then followed me home. (And he looks quite well for 4 days and nights on his own...)
posted by Jon44 at 5:11 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

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