Cat lost in unfamiliar territory
May 1, 2021 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Packing up to head home after a road trip with my cats, and the little one bolted. I have been calling and looking for him for almost 5 hours, I've put food out all over the property. Called the local animal rescue and posted on the local facebook lost pets page.

Other guests have the airbnb booked tonight so I'm going to have to leave in another couple of hours. I got a hotel nearby for tonight but at some point I'm going to have to leave. He is super nervous so i hope he is just hiding somewhere but I'm starting to panic that he is really lost.

I know rhe hive mind is good at this - what else can I do to find this little boy?
posted by tinymojo to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry, that sounds very stressful. When I've cats get out at home they tend to hide fairly close to the house and not respond at all to my calling, only to emerge hours or possibly days later. I'm assuming you've done this, but searching absolutely every little nook and cranny around the house might help. If neighbors are nearby ask them if they've seen the cat. Does your cat have bag or container of treats that they might respond to if you shake it?
posted by whistle pig at 1:39 PM on May 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I have a cat who is semi feral, who has done this three times now.

A live trap and open cans of sardines or pungent cat food worked every time. Occasionally this also attracts other unwanted guests. It's worth it to get the cat home.

Cats are crepuscular, calling morning and at dusk is the best bet- but if he's so nervous he's in a foreign place, adrenaline isn't allowing rest anyway. You may need to wait a few days. Good luck!
posted by firstdaffodils at 1:44 PM on May 1, 2021 [8 favorites]

My best advice is to go out on the small hours of the morning, 3am or so, and walk around calling him. Everything is eerily quiet at that hour and he stands a better chance of hearing you. Also have treats ready for incentive. So sorry you are going through this, I know how stressful it is!
posted by Athanassiel at 1:46 PM on May 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

I often see it suggested to set out nearby something that smells strongly of you, along with a blanket and some food, to attract them back.
posted by praemunire at 1:49 PM on May 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Weird idea: pray to St. Francis for help on this, hopefully in that the kitty returns to you ASAP.
I know, it's a hippie-dippie idea, but hey, a cat returned home within 24 hours of my trying it. Feel free to ignore me if that's too weird for you, though. Good luck.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:12 PM on May 1, 2021 [28 favorites]

Response by poster: Found! Thank you jenfullmoon and St Francis and other responders!
posted by tinymojo at 2:40 PM on May 1, 2021 [123 favorites]

posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:41 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yay! What happened? Did the cat JUST show up?
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:41 PM on May 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yep, he'd gotten under the fence to a neighboring yard and i think was too scared to come out before. Horrible naughty beloved little thing.
posted by tinymojo at 2:51 PM on May 1, 2021 [36 favorites]

I'm so glad to hear you found him. These questions always break my heart.
posted by primethyme at 2:52 PM on May 1, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Now that he's found again, it's time to wheel out the obligatory soundtrack for the thread
posted by flabdablet at 3:03 PM on May 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Almost forgot ... cat tax
posted by tinymojo at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2021 [33 favorites]

He's not sorry!
posted by praemunire at 5:24 PM on May 1, 2021 [12 favorites]

I'm delighted that St. Francis came through. If it happens again, you might hedge your bets with an additional invocation of St. Anthony of Padua, since lost things are his specialty. /hagiographicpedantry
posted by pleasant_confusion at 6:12 PM on May 1, 2021 [9 favorites]

so glad you found!
posted by leslies at 7:01 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I do the St. Francis thing when I see Lost Pet signs, and one time with a friend whose cat had disappeared for several days--the cat came back within 24 hours. But I previously had been doing it with St. Anthony, since I'd had some luck with things turning up when I tried him.

Someone had blanketed the parks with her lost cat posters--I forget how long, but probably a few weeks/months or something like that of some duration, and I'd been asking St. Anthony. No luck--I actually walked by one of the posters and she had written "STILL LOST!" on it. I told a friend about this and she said, "No, it's St. Francis for pets, Anthony is for lost objects." I tried St. Francis and the next time I walked through the park, those posters were gone.

I've started walking through the parks again since my all clear and have been trying it on the various lost cat posters. I hope they all turn up...
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 PM on May 1, 2021 [12 favorites]

This all unfolded while I was at work and I was all kinds of worried, so happy to hear the lil fella came back.
posted by vrakatar at 8:26 PM on May 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yay! I am so glad you found him.

(I have to admit, I thought flabdablet’s link was going to go to this. But your cat is not as naughty as that cat!)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:59 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Move over Sts. Francis and Anthony: St Ask of Hivemind has, once more, delivered.
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:21 PM on May 1, 2021 [15 favorites]

I'm just exceedingly glad that this was not the soundtrack for the thread.
posted by flabdablet at 11:24 PM on May 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

posted by flabdablet at 7:15 AM on May 2, 2021

Just for the record- seconding what folks said above. A live trap with preferred or stinky food will often do the trick within a day or two (far less if you happen to figure out where the cat is and can site the trap accordingly. Our tame cats are a breeze to grab when they get out, because they're very confident. But I have a semi-feral boy (hard on the semi indoors, hard on the feral outdoors) who has gotten out a couple times and a well sited trap has done the trick for me.
posted by wotsac at 8:45 AM on May 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

So glad kitty has returned! For anyone who is in a similar situation in the future, one tip I've read is to just sit in a spot near where the cat is lost, and just talk in a normal voice. Like pick up the phone and chat with someone, or just pretend you're talking to someone. Maybe with some stinky tuna nearby.

Basically, a freaked out cat may not come if you're going around shouting for him. But the sound of a safe voice at normal volumes signals to the cat that it's safe, and they'll come out.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

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