Can you help me find my mom's cat?
April 14, 2014 6:40 PM   Subscribe

My mom is out of town for a couple of weeks and she asked me to take her cat to my house, which is about an hour away from hers. The cat moved in here a week ago with no real problems. Today, she went missing, and I would really like to find her. Can you help me?

About the cat: she is a Siamese cat who is pretty friendly, about two years old. She knows me and gets along with both me and my girlfriend who lives here. She is indoor only, I do not know if she has ever been outside but I doubt it. She doesn't try to dart out when you open the door. . . I do not know how she got outside, she has been missing now for about six hours.

I live in a small city, but I live in a very 'rural' part of that city. I live on eleven acres of wooded land, with significant acres of woods on adjoining plots. In one direction I have light suburban style neighbors. Other people's cats roam the neighborhood and seem to have a pretty easy time of it. Light traffic.

I am worried that since she has been here such a short time she will range too far and not find her way back. Night has fallen now, we have been out all evening looking for her with no luck whatsoever.

I put out her food and some sardines on both my front and back porch. I put an old shirt of mine in a box, and now I've moved her litter box out. Is there anything else I can do?

What if she doesn't come back by tomorrow, what are the next steps I take?
posted by TheTingTangTong to Pets & Animals (25 answers total)
She might have found a super stealth hiding place inside that you'd never think of. I had a cat get inside a stair once, via a hole I never considered because it looked way too small.

Tomorrow, I'd call animal control in your city and see what they recommend; check in with local shelters (a Siamese won't go unnoticed, ask them to keep an eye out, keep calling) and put up posters offering a reward. Also maybe consider a post on Craigslist. Good luck!
posted by data hound at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Are you absolutely sure she's not inside? Cats are tricky, extremely flexible little creatures and there are dozens of places that she could be indoors -- holed up inside a piece of furniture or a box spring or under something that you are certain she's too big to fit in. Put some food out -- wet food, if she likes it, or another treat -- and lay low. She will probably come out and eat and even if you don't see her, you'll see that some food is gone, which will be a comfort.
posted by kate blank at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Are you positive she's not hiding in the house somewhere? One time when house-sitting / cat-sitting, I scoured the house for the cat, who had seemingly disappeared into thin air. I looked under every piece of furniture and in every nook I thought he could physically fit into. He re-materialized a day later and I never found out where he had been hiding.

Six hours is not that long for a cat to go missing. She could be having a nice nap somewhere in the house. This mefite located a missing cat in the underside of an upholstered chair.
posted by Orinda at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

First off, did you see her go outside? Cats are incredibly good at wedging themselves into hiding spaces, I regularly lose my own cats in my own house. Favorite hidings spaces have included inside my box spring (one of them clawed a hole through the fabric underneath), inside an armchair (same access as the box spring), through a hole in a wall behind the toilet, and a ledge inside the chimney that the cat accessed from the fireplace even though the damper was shut. Then there's the 'not really hiding as much as getting cozy for a nap' spots such as somewhere in your closets, or your cupboards and cabinets: linen closets and underwear drawers are especially attractive hiding places.

If you are certain she's outside, try standing in your yard and tapping her food dish with a spoon (if she eats canned food) or shaking her kibble bag/box (if she's eating dry) while making whatever noises you normally make before feeding her. Not loudly, just at your usual volume. Cats hear a lot better than they can smell.
posted by jamaro at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2014

And bring the litterbox back inside. I think it's unlikely the cat would need it outside (the world is a toilet!). Clean it, and maybe in the morning it will have been used.
posted by data hound at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nth'ing she may be in the house. My cat hid under a dresser (which looked impossible to get under) when my grandmother was taking care of her. The smell of cooking bacon lured her out, and cemented their friendship. Might be worth a try.

Edited to add: and another of my cats regularly hid inside an upholstered chair, and would climb up into the frame of the seat back so there was no way to see/reach him.
posted by pennypiper at 6:54 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can't envision how she got outside, then, as others have said, you should assume that she's inside. My wife and I foster critters for the SPCA, and underneath our couches (like, within the frame) is a popular place for the cats and kittens to hide—every one of them, at one time or another, has discovered curling up in there. But, really, you've got to check everywhere in your house, even places that you feel silly checking.
posted by waldo at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2014

Did you open and shut/shut any closet/cupboard doors six hours ago?
posted by kmennie at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Check your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and any closets you might have opened earlier in the day. I was absolutely sure I'd lost my roommate's cat in a similar situation until after an hour of frantic searching I found her curled up on some towels in the linen closet, completely undisturbed by having been shut in there for 8 hours.

A boyfriend once found his cat behind the refrigerator in the kitchen. (Despite being sure she couldn't have fit in the three inches between the fridge and the wall.) Also check for holes in the underside of the box spring on your bed. It's another favorite cat hideout.
posted by MsMolly at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2014

I once moved several states away, and then panicked and thought my cat was lost when we couldn't find him. Some hours later, we found him hanging out in the very back of a deep corner cabinet in the kitchen, behind the pots and pans. Nthing cats can be sneaky, and if you didn't see her go outside, she's probably still inside someplace.
posted by Andrhia at 7:02 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We did not see her get outside, and for that matter have a hard time imagining her doing so. . . But I don't own very much stuff. While the house is big and kind if rickety we have pretty much turned over every piece of furniture there is, and opened all the closets and cupboards. Here's to hoping she is behind a cabinet and will come out when she is good and ready. Thanks for your help so far yall. Tomorrow if she still hasn't showed up I will go to the SPCA and animal shelters.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:09 PM on April 14, 2014

Also -- my friend's cat has been super-obsessed with sitting inside the refrigerator lately. They can't open it for more than a second without her darting inside and settling in among the food. So really check everywhere.
posted by kate blank at 7:09 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every time my mom took care of my cat for a few days when I was in college she called me in a panic at least once because she couldn't find him. I bet you anything that cat is asleep somewhere weird in your house. Mine once crawled inside the walls, locating a small hole in a closet that had been opened up to provide access to the plumbing.

The good news is that even if she isn't, cats do not stray very far from home, even cats who spend most of their lives outdoors. Put some food outside along with some clothes that smell like you.
posted by something something at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2014

Ours darts in the dryer whenever it's open in search of warms. So maybe check there? So far the worst that happened was that she was shut in the dryer overnight (but it scared us enough that we now have a big label over the on switch which says "CHECK FOR PENNY")
posted by kimdog at 7:26 PM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

She is almost certainly inside somewhere very weird. Leave out a can of tuna or some smelly treat overnight, I'll bet that it's gone in the morning but that you still cannot find the cat.

Do open all appliance doors and check, though -- fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher.
posted by jeather at 7:28 PM on April 14, 2014

Do you know if she was microchipped?

If so, if someone finds her and takes her to a shelter or vet, they'll call the number registered with the microchip company. If that number is your mom's house or cell phone, they'll leave a message. Can you check those messages somehow?
posted by barnone at 8:05 PM on April 14, 2014

Ugh, cats are so sneaky! I was housesitting once and for days did not see the cat - which the owner said was normal. Then one day I let the dog out the back, and saw a flash of white streak by. The owner ultimately found the cat when he came back, hiding under the house.
posted by radioamy at 8:08 PM on April 14, 2014

Check INSIDE the mattress.
posted by k8t at 8:25 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our inside cat darted outside (we didn't even realize it until the next day) and was gone two weeks. Just as we were about to give up, he showed up on the patio, skinny and needy but glad to be home.
posted by tamitang at 8:26 PM on April 14, 2014

Is there anyway she could have climbed into one of the heat ducts?
posted by whoaali at 8:27 PM on April 14, 2014

About two minutes after we went to bed she started meowing outside the bedroom window. Once she got inside it started to pour rain. I don't know how she got outside but she is back now, I am very happy to say, and she is bathing herself like nothing happened. Thank you all for your suggestions you were very kind.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 8:56 PM on April 14, 2014 [90 favorites]

I have a Siamese too. For as loud and chatty as she can be sometimes, about once a week she practices her silent hiding technique, I think because it's the only survival mechanism that she's got, poor pretty but dumb kitty. I don't know how she still does it after 8 years and with a well-rounded physique, but she still finds impossible places I don't know. Cats are weird.
On preview, and sneaky. I'm glad she's back.
posted by dness2 at 8:58 PM on April 14, 2014

Bad kitty! Thank goodness she came back.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:35 PM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get yourself a laser pointer. They often sell them alongside kitty collars in the cat food aisles of many stores. When we first adopted our daughter's cat, she was afraid of us and everything. But she could not resist the lure of the red dot! And that's how we got her to eat and eventually she became the sweet bundle of kitty love that she is today. (obligatory Miss Kitty pic) So glad your mom's kitty came back!
posted by Lynsey at 9:42 AM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

So glad she reappeared!
posted by data hound at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2014

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