How do I find a lost cat?
December 19, 2003 6:07 AM   Subscribe

How do I find a lost cat? [more inside]

I was putting up some weatherstripping on my door, and he must have run off when I went to get some tools or something. Humbert Humbert has always been an indoor cat (both he and his sister, Lolita, who is very worried), and is one of the most immature and downright stoopid cats I've ever encountered. It's only been about 13 hours, but I am a little worried that he won't come back (or that I won't be home if he tries to come back during the day today). I asked the neighbors to look out for him, and put out some water and food. What else can I do?
posted by adampsyche to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a great link detailing lots of little things that might not occur to you. Did you call your local animal shelter/spca/vet/whatever to have them be on the lookout? I hope you find him!
posted by iconomy at 6:28 AM on December 19, 2003


adampsyche, you might consider putting a blanket or sweater (something with your scent) near the food and water. If there are any sounds he's used to (like the rattling of dry food in a bag?) you could try that too. Good luck - please let us know when he comes back.
posted by stonerose at 6:31 AM on December 19, 2003


Set off on a cross country trip with your remaining cat leaving cryptic notes in hotel registries that only he will get. He'll find you eventually, but you may not like what happens next.

[on a real note... much sympathy. If you live in a safe enough neighborhood, I'd lock your other cat in a interior room, and leave your front door cracked, in case your cat comes back. I wouldn't start worrying in earnest for another 24 hours or so. Much luck]
posted by cadastral at 6:31 AM on December 19, 2003


Thanks, I think I'll try that (blanket and other suggestions, but not the cross country trip!). I just hope he doesn't join the circus or something. I'm having someone go by today to hang out and see if he comes back, and I'll have them leave out his bed.
posted by adampsyche at 6:33 AM on December 19, 2003


Last week my wife went to take the puppy out for a walk. At the same moment she opened the door, our normally docile cat went racing down the stairs and out the door. "Oh shit," I heard her yell as she closed the self-locking front door behind her to grab the cat, leaving the puppy inside to whine. Me, I threw on some shorts and went downstairs to find out what happened. She yelled back from the yard that the cat had gotten out. I told her to go back inside and take care of the dog, and that I would go look for the cat. The door closed. Me, my wife and a cat were outside in the dark and cold while the dog that needed to take a leak was inside behind the locked door. Neither of us had a key.

Anyway, when he does get out, usually just shaking the Pounceā„¢ is enough to coax him out of hiding. The other thing that works is listening for the sound of caterwauling, as a stray cat is bound to cross into the territory of other cats. Too bad there is not an Amber Alert for animals.
posted by piskycritter at 6:36 AM on December 19, 2003


Adam I don't have many suggestions to offer other than 13 hours may seem like a long time to you but not to the cat. If he never goes outside then there is lots of stuff for him to explore. I'm certain he will return to you in good shape.
posted by vito90 at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2003


shaking food/treats in the bag is always a good one i use when i can't find our cat inside the house... try putting out some shoes you just wore. they always seem to crowd to the scent of that stuff. i'd also be glad to hear about it when your cat comes back.
posted by lotsofno at 6:45 AM on December 19, 2003


There really is no substitute for talking to neighbors over an area of many, many blocks. Look for the Caddies and Buicks in the driveways, as old folks tend to be much more conscientious about keeping your phone number, looking out, etc...

After some friends found their cat, who was missing for seven weeks, they invested in these ID tags.
posted by trharlan at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2003


I hope your cat comes back, too - this might be extreme, but I have heard of dogs that are trained to find lost cats. I have no idea where you would begin to look for such a dog.

If it's any comfort, I had a cat once that left for ten days. We figured she was gone for good when she showed up at our door, hungry.
posted by drobot at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2003


Cats have been know to gallavant. While you're waiting for your little kitty to come home, I came across a hilarious Cat bloopers video on Crash's site.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:34 AM on December 19, 2003


In a very strange cat-name coincidence, adampsyche, I once had a cat named Nabokov, who also got lost - he had never been outside, and a neighbor opened my door, and away he ran. He came back 4 years later - I heard a mewwing at my back door, and there he was. It was the freakiest thing ever. The moral is - they always seem to find their way home eventually.
posted by iconomy at 8:00 AM on December 19, 2003


Do you have a garage? or a place with lots of small spaces to hide in? Our cat freaks when he's not in his natural environment and finds the smallest possible hiding space in the darkest corner he can find. Hope that you find HH.
posted by grimley at 8:11 AM on December 19, 2003


If your cat is unused to being out doors, it's a scary place. He may well have holed up someplace small and safe-feeling. The odds are that it will take a day of hunger to force him out, and he is more likely to come out at night than in the daytime, since that's when cats are more comfortable traveling. Do your calling, food-shaking, home-smelling-thing putting-out in the early dusk and leave your door adjar in the night, if you can.

An absence of more than a day does indeed begin to raise the question of whether he's gone to earth in someplace where he's subsequently been shut in. That's when talking to neighbors and postering starts to pay off, asking folks to look in sheds, cellars and such hidey places that may have been open on the day or day after he escaped.

Best of luck--this is a miserable situation, I know from experience.
posted by salt at 8:16 AM on December 19, 2003


13 hours is about 5 minutes in cat time i think.

i once had a siamese kitten, dune, disappear for about 4 days before he trotted home. i plastered the neighbourhood with signs and walked around in the morning and a night when all the dog walkers were out and talked to all of them asking them to keep an eye out.
posted by heather at 9:07 AM on December 19, 2003


Tuna fish. I always have a couple cans of this catbait on hand. Mine like to hide in the bushes and refuse to make their presence known until I make direct eye contact with them. In their self-centered world, they can't conceive of someone walking by and not just feeling their presence, so they just sit there for hours punishing me for not being more atuned. Tuna fish makes them forget that I'm such an obtuse servant. I just walk around with an open can and they're quacking at my feet within 5 minutes.
Good luck!
posted by dness2 at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2003


I don't know if it would help, but once you've exhausted the other possibilities, perhaps you could take Lolita outside (maybe in a carrier?) for 5 or 10 minutes, and if she's vocal, he might hear her... (nothing tried-and-true or scientific about this - just an idea).

Aside from this, in my experience, it could go either way. I had one that disappeared for weeks and then returned, and one that just completely disappeared (I'm pretty sure somebody picked him up, because he was too cute for his own good). Both of these were indoor/outdoor cats, so their vanishing acts remain total mysteries.

But, the cat I had the longest (the Methusela of cats, and one who never, ever left home once she got a home) was one that showed up while I was sitting on my front steps calling for/inticing my first lost cat. This one was starving and stinky, so of course I fed her, and really, really physical climbing all over me, and getting my clothes flilthy and smelly, so of course I bathed her, and then of course - just like that - we went from a one-cat household to a two-cat household once the original cat made her way back.
posted by taz at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2003


He came home!

I think he was in the backyard the whole time. He wouldn't come out for me or The Wife, but my son was able to get him out lickity split.

Now to beat love him senseless.
posted by adampsyche at 8:25 PM on December 19, 2003


Yeah! I'm so happy for you and the family!
posted by stonerose at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2003


can we get a picture??? congrats.
posted by grimley at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2003


Thumbs up!
posted by vito90 at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2003


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