lost cat!!
April 3, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

My sister lost my cat. Now what?

I had to go away for 2 weeks because my niece got MRSA really badly after a botched surgery, and I wanted to help my sister prep her house for my niece's return. My OTHER sister was supposed to watch my cat. On Friday, sweet Angel somehow got out. She's been missing ever since. :( I'm really worried because we live by a waterway, there are several feral cats who've indicated a desire to beef with her already (even tho she's indoor-only), and there are snakes, armadillos and nutria (I don't know if they eat cat but I don't NOT know they eat cat, know what I mean?).

So far I've...

1. Posted to the NOLA Lost Pets FB page
2. Contacted HomeAgain, and had them send out an alert to different shelters in the area. I just called the vet nearest me and they didn't get it tho, so that might not be effective.
3. Posted to the FB SPCA page for our specific area of NOLA.
4. Walked and walked calling her name.
5. Put out a blanket that smells like me, and some of her favorite food (I think another cat that's feral ate the food tho)
6. Gone to the nearest shelter everyday. They don't scan microchips for cats, so I'm really scared she'll get caught in a humane trap and accidentally put down.

Tomorrow I'm putting up signs and little half sheets of paper with her pic and my number. What else should I do to get her home safe?
posted by spunweb to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Post something on Craigslist. Local signs are good, but a lot of people, if they find a cat, are going to turn to the internet, too. To amp up your facebook coverage, maybe create a page for your lost cat, invite your friends list to "like" the page, and more people will see it?

So sorry - good luck!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:30 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Craigslist -- done! Just got a message back from a person who works at a local shelter... who didn't have my cat, but who sent condolences and said she'd keep a look out.

Liketitanic -- there are a few abandoned houses near us; they're getting renovated for sale, so I'm hoping she doesn't get, like, sealed beneath a floorboard or something, Tell-Tale Hearts-style.

posted by spunweb at 3:37 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get your own humane trap and put her favorite food in it. Set it under your house or porch or wherever you think she might hide. When one of my cats escaped he was too scared to come to me but the trap did the trick. He was in the crawlspace.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

Do you have a neighborhood Listserv or Facebook page? Get your neighbors looking. This is the most effective method in my neighborhood.
posted by instamatic at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

there are a few abandoned houses near us; they're getting renovated for sale

Definitely check there if they're close. And check after builder hours. When one of my parents' cats disappeared for a while, that's where he turned out to be - but he was hiding from the builders and the noise during the day, and so didn't come out when my folks went to look for him. He was eventually found when my dad went round at night on a hunch, and called his name outside a window.
posted by Catseye at 3:58 PM on April 3, 2013

1. Acquire a humane trap as Violet Hour suggests. They're pretty expensive, so you want to try to borrow one. First call your local government or police. If there is an animal control department/officer, they will have a trap. (They may even put it out for you.) If not, start calling local shelters/humane societies and vet's offices. Try a plea on Craigslist, Freecycle, or Facebook to borrow a trap.

2. Get a demonstration on how to set the trap. They are not intuitive to set up, and you want it to work the first time.

3. Acquire your cat's favorite, smelliest food. Some kind of stinky human seafood, like tuna or salmon, is also good.

4. Acquire a tarp or blanket for covering the trap.

5. Figure out a likely place to set it up: somewhere out of the way, out of sight, out of the elements, near where your cat was last seen. You don't want passersby to be able to mess with it, or even see it really.

6. Bait the trap, set the door open, cover it in such a way that it looks cozy, but the blanket does not interfere with the workings of the trap itself.

7. Wait. Check the trap every few hours. Get friends to check it during the day if you're at work. Check it more often overnight.

8. If you catch a wild animal (a raccoon is likely), your safest bet is to call animal control to release it from the trap. If you catch a cat that isn't yours, then you need to either release it, or take it somewhere if you think it belongs to somebody.

9. Reset your trap and wait.

Last fall, I lost a cat in an undeveloped unknown area (to the cat) that was known for coyotes, and I caught it a week later. I checked that dang trap 4-5 times a day at first, including one last check around 11pm or so, and once in the early morning. I caught the same feral cat twice, and then on the morning I was going to give up and return the trap to animal control, I found the cat I was looking for.

Cats are surprisingly resilient, even with potential predators around.

Don;t just call the shelter. GO down and LOOK. Every day. Especially since they don't scan cats. (Yikes!)

Also, some advice and inspiration in this AskMe.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:15 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

They don't scan microchips for cats.....

Really, I mean really?

At a later date, I think you also need to start a facebook campaign to get them to start scanning. Do they have some rationale for why they don't? Like lack of money or staff? That definitely needs to change.

Seconding visiting the houses being renovated, be bold, get inside if you can and look around. When my cat was lost, I literally turned my neighborhood upside down, and didn't hesitate to ask people to search their property.

Signs with photos ARE good, I had many calls from people who had seen a similar cat, cat lovers do pay attention to the signs and the cats they see.

You might find the Cat Profiler's website helpful.

Please update and let us know what happens.
posted by nanook at 4:42 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

This recently happened to me. I did all the things suggested above. She was gone for 18 days and then one night at dusk I went outside, banged on the side of the wet food can, called her name and a thing flew past me straight into the house. It was my Fiona, a little thin, very demanding for wet food and very grateful to be home.

I would post her picture if I knew how.

Don't give up...she is probably close by.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am so sorry. If there are any local cat rescue groups or groups that deal with ferals you might try to get in touch and send a photo to them too as they may also deal with strays and the local shelter.
posted by oneear at 5:27 PM on April 3, 2013

Best answer: My cat went missing and sprinted through the door ten days later full of stories and no way to tell them. I took heart from this piece of internet wisdom and while I can't be sure, I like to think that walking the neighborhood at night calling for him and searching neighbors' yards, at least encouraged him to come home. Good luck.
posted by firstdrop at 5:45 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh I am so sorry! My little boy kitty recently scared the shit out of us by doing the exact same thing. I hope she comes home soon.

Putting up signs with pictures is good, but they get blown off really quickly. I would used staples and not tape, if you can. Also make your signs big, you want people to notice them. We also walked around neighborhood with the fliers and tried to talk to as many as our neighbors in person as possible. Especially the kids, and the mailperson. Many people have pets and will be sympathetic. The cat is most likely to be in the immediate area, so be aggressive in searching the area. Do you have anyone who could come help you look? I was given the number of a group that uses dogs to search out lost pets called Dogs Finding Dogs, however this in DC, maybe there is a similar group near you? I was also advised to put out catnip and some of his own cat litter to help attract him.

My kitty showed up at the backdoor three weeks later, so don't give up.
posted by florencetnoa at 5:58 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't give up on walking and calling. And listening. That is how we found my guy once.
He was trapped in a back yard with a high fence and couldn't come out, but he meowed back to us.

Good luck, she is beautiful.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:20 PM on April 3, 2013

Best answer: Where specifically in New Orleans do you live?

The Louisiana SPCA, which has a contract with the City of New Orleans for animal control, has a 5 day stray hold. Any animals that are brought in as "strays" (i.e. someone found them or they were picked up by animal control) are held in the stray hold area for five days before *anything* happens, so if you live in New Orleans proper you can breathe a little bit easier in the sense that she is not going to get put down immediately before you can get to the shelter to check.

Good that you posted on Craigslist. I would also post on the FB pages for as many rescue groups, vets, neighborhood orgs, as you can. I can give you more specific direction if I know what neighborhood you live in, but I'd start with Zeus Place, Southern Animal Foundation, SpayMart. Also just post a pic on your page with "Lost cat in NEIGHBORHOOD please contact EMAIL ADDRESS" and ask people to share.

That said, most indoor cats freak the fuck out when they get outside and go hide. I was housesitting in Old Jefferson and the cat got out. FWIW, I opened the back door to let the dog out and I saw a streak of white and the cat (who had been hiding under the bed the whole time) was gone. The owners found her a week later hiding under the house. I highly recommend getting a heavy-duty flashlight and some friends and start looking in very nook and cranny. Also you can usually rent humane traps from shelters and leave one out with yummy food in it.
posted by radioamy at 7:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Almost every lost-cat-is-found story I've heard recently has involved somebody seeing a flyer tacked up somewhere. In one case a couple walking to brunch recognized my friend's lost cat, who'd been huddling next to their backyard St. Francis statue. Color copies with a big photo are best, especially if they won't run if they get rained on. Good luck.
posted by lisa g at 7:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My cat went missing last spring (see question here) and what made the difference was hanging up signs. Use a google voice # if you'd like a little more anonymity. I was pleasantly surprised with how many people called with sightings. It really narrowed down the range that I need to look in to a few blocks. I just walked them every night with some food, and after about a week, I had him home! He was drawn to the food, not me, so make sure to have that extra attraction with you.
posted by munichmaiden at 11:26 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by Boogiechild at 11:51 PM on April 3, 2013

Best answer: You might supplement your online approaches by putting up a few signs around your neighborhood -- for all you know, some sympathetic neighbor has been looking after her and wondering if she's a stray. Be sure to include a photo if possible!
posted by acm at 6:34 AM on April 4, 2013

I distributed little flyers in my neighbors' mailboxes when one of my cats went missing, as well as posting larger flyers on poles in the area.

One of the larger flyers was what ultimately did the trick (my kitty was trapped in a swimming pool enclosure at an apartment complex a couple blocks away and some residents spotted her--and the flyer--when they went out for a walk), but I also got calls from several of the mailbox-flyer folks AFTER I got her back and they spotted a look-alike. One of those came in a good month after I'd found her. I was impressed by how kind and responsive folks were.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:21 AM on April 4, 2013

SIGNS WITH PICTURES!!! My kitty got found that way!
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 8:47 AM on April 4, 2013

Response by poster: ANGEL'S FOUND! Thank you all for your advice and your kind thoughts. It was a combination of half sheet pics of her and walking around that got her found. My mom gave out some and put some signs up in the morning near the school bus since my cat likes kids. Around three, I started driving around and giving them out too,* and met a 3 yr old and his mom. The 3 yr old INSISTED he saw her, lying down by a pond. His mom and me were all ?!?! since there are NO ponds near here. Canels, sinkholes, marshes, sure, but no ponds. After she and I talked with him, we figured out he meant either this elaborate Virgin Mary fountain some folks down the street had on their lawn OR the giant drainage ditch where the possums are. Or both. I walked by both, stuck some pics in mailboxes near them, and then started driving again, figuring I'd ask an adult when I got home.

Around 6 or 7, I met up with my big sister, who of course is feeling horrible about losing my cat, and we walked all around looking for Angel, calling her name, giving out pics, etc. No one saw her... until we met a couple of kids (maybe 5 or 6 yrs old) who said they saw her walking around. Here's what went down.

Sister: We're looking for a fluffy-fluffy black and white cat. Have you seen a cat like that?
Kid1: Yes, but she was walking away.
Sister: !!! Where???
Kid2 and Kid1 look at each other, visibly confused.
Kid1: We don't know? She didn't say where she was going.
Sister: :blink: :mental adjustment: Okay... where were YOU when you saw her walking?
Kid1 and Kid2 begin gesticulating wildly, with the only clear words being "down the other way, by that man's house, no the OTHER way, where it's sideways, and the man has the RED car."

This was simultaneously useful and not.

We started walking towards home, and I saw a weird lumpy shadow under a car near a house one down from the one with the fountain. I was like, IS THAT MY CAT? I CAN'T TELL AND EVERY TIME I LOOK IT'S JUST A BUSH. (or an armadillo.) Anyways, I looked under the car, and THERE WAS MY CAT. She was brown instead of black/white but that was MY CAT. She meowed all sadly, and I belly crawled up the drive way and stuck my arm all the way under the car. She came out, and that's the end!

I'm not sure why she smells like mustard and mud. I'm not sure I WANT to know.

There have been no barbecues recently.... sooooo.... yuck.

And before you ask: yes, she WAS at the house by the pond, where there was a man with a red car that goes fast. :D

*I felt a little weird going around with the pics, because she's such a pretty cat that I'm always like, That's what she looks like! I didn't do GlamourShots for my cat!!
posted by spunweb at 6:46 PM on April 4, 2013 [14 favorites]

I would used staples and not tape, if you can.

I know the cat for this question has been found, but for anyone else reading this thread for tips on finding lost pets, do NOT do what's quoted above.

Staples and nails in a pole create a major hazard for any utility lineman who would have to climb that pole later. When the sign is torn/blown down and the staple left behind, the exposed part can rust away, leaving the remains of the staple legs sticking out as sharp rusty shards. Use tape for your lost pet signs, please.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:35 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That fountain, appropriately enough, is St. Francis of Assisi, not the Virgin Mary.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:51 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

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