Although this is about how to find a lost cat it is our fervent hope that you might take some of this advice and use it to not lose your cat in the first place.
Losing a pet is every fur parent’s nightmare but there are some important steps that you can take that will help prevent this kind of ordeal.
Bet we’ll get to that later, first here’s a little story…
When Two White Dogs lost their Cat
Earlier this year the unthinkable happened. Mickey just didn’t come home one day.
I was not happy about it but I didn’t panic. Not for the first night anyway. It had happened before and I didn’t want to be one of those people (well alright one of those people again) who cry over their cat not coming home for one day and then in he comes like nothing happened.
Mickey was my first cat and I’d figured out by this stage that cats were not the same as dogs. My two white dogs never want to leave Mummy for all that long (most of the time!) but like most cats Mickey was just a little more inquisitive and independent.
So, one day he didn’t come home and then one day turned into two and then three and none of the neighbors had seen him either. I was so busy at work that a week went by pretty fast and then I had to accept the painful truth.
Mickey was officially missing.
I felt that since he’d been missing for a week a Facebook post was justified and sympathy was warranted.
But it was also time to take action and if you’re going through this yourself right now here’s what to do…
Search inside the house first!
I’ve been known to start panicking only to find that I’ve accidently shut Mickey in a wardrobe.
I always have to check the washing machine and dryer before I turn them on.
Mickey just loves to explore so any newly open cupboard or box is seen as a big adventure and sometimes he just seeks out a cozy place to take a nap away from fluffy little girl dogs.
Comb the house before getting too worked up
Then look outside
Mickey used to be a cat that was allowed outdoors and I knew who his friends were and where he liked to hang out.
Look in all areas around the house including any snuggly places your cat might like to nap or catch some rays.
Carry a bag of cat food and shake it and call your cat..
Ask the neighbours
So now assuming your cat is not snuggled up somewhere indoors or playing with his mates nearby, it is a good idea to ask your neighbors.
The crazy lady next door to me has about 20 cats but she still knows who Mickey is.
Take a photo and ask everyone if they’ve seen your cat. It helps if you know how long he’s been missing since that’s the first question people ask.
Have you moved house since you had this cat?
If you have you need to check your old place, cats have been known to travel very long distances to find their old homes!
Make some fliers
If like me you live in a non-English speaking country have the fliers translated.
Include a good photo and offer a reward.
The reward needs to be enough to capture people’s interest but don’t go over the top because you will be paying it and people need to believe that you will pay the reward or else they won’t be motivated to act.
I offered Thai Baht 5,000 which is about $US 140
I was so distraught I would have offered anything if I thought it would get everyone up and looking and get Mickey back to me sooner but I sought the advice of a local person before I got carried away.
Remember too that once you find your cat some nasty people might remember how much you were willing to pay for his safe return and be tempted to catnap him so there’s another reason not to offer too much.
Include the animals name, age, weight, color and of course don’t forget to include your phone number.
I strongly advise against including your address.
Stick the fliers ups everywhere and hand them out
I all but completely wallpapered my street in fliers.
I had to keep putting them up because they kept disappearing; either falling down or being taken away.
I walked up and down my street and surrounding streets handing them out every day and with permission stuck them in shop windows.
I changed the photo every few days as I felt that it might take just the right one to trigger someone’s memory and also to convey that the search was ongoing.
I actually went out and purchased a fancy new color printer for this as I realized it would cost me a fortune at the print shop otherwise.
Contact shelters and vets
I emailed fliers to all the vets, animal shelters and pet stores on the island.
Here in Phuket there’s PAWS (Phuket Animal Welfare Society) and Soi Dog Foundation and a government run pound.
I once lost a dog in Melbourne, Australia and found him right away by calling the pound, even though he had got out without his collar on following a bath. Someone had picked him up and reported him by the time I got around to calling them as a loose dog is such an oddity there.
Post in Facebook groups and create paid ads
Here in Phuket there are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to pets and pet services. Find groups relevant to your area and post an add.
I already had a Facebook page for my pets so I just made it public and utilized it to post adds which I paid to boost.
In no time thousands of people in my area knew Mickey was missing (or at least were seeing my ads on their mobile devices) and everywhere I went people were asking if I’d found him yet.
I got a lot of false leads of course but that’s to be expected.
At one point I was woken up at 5am by a drunk lady-boy calling me. She thought she’d found my cat and I went to the laundry she had told me to come to only to find an old street cat with a crooked tail and a lot of old scars on his face. He bore no resemblance to Mickey whatsoever except in color. Bless that lady though, she really meant well.
Get permission to search backyards or any fenced property that backs onto or is near yours.
In my case I couldn’t get permission so I just went in anyway but I’m certainly not advocating that.
I also went to the surrounding jungle at night with a flashlight to look in case Mickey was hiding somewhere afraid of the neighbor’s cats. Be sensible and take someone with you to do that. Stay safe!
Leave a trail
I put Mickey’s litter tray out on the front porch in the hope that his own scent might help bring him home if he was lost.
Online I noticed some people recommend setting traps and leaving food but there’s no end of critters I’d capture using this method in my neck of the woods!
Keep the faith
Believe you are finding your cat. It’s only a matter of time. Fantasize about how you’re going to spoil him when you get him home.
I went out and bought a new basket to keep in the car ready for when I would be picking him up and a new collar for him to wear and wrote his name and my phone number inside it so it would be ready for him.
Leave no stone unturned. Keep up all the efforts, Keep up the Facebook posts, let anyone following your story online know about any sightings or whatever else. Encourage other people who are also looking for lost pets, I found other people online in the same boat and we helped each other.
Post in the comments section below and I’ll support you.
I already mentioned I created a Facebook page for my pets and it was also at this time that I finally registered the domain for this website. I toyed with the idea of calling the website “Finding Mickey” but figured I would find him soon and the name would be redundant.
Stay strong, keep going about your day, go to work and do what you have to do but when you’re off you keep looking. Keep putting fliers up in the neighborhood, they don’t stay up long.
Prevention is best
Sterilize your pets; they will be less inclined to run away or get into fights and they won’t contribute to the worldwide problem of unwanted domestic animals
Don’t let pets roam; especially in densely populated neighborhoods, you will come to regret it
Fit them with species appropriate collars and ID tags; there are safety collars specially made for cats that won’t strangle them and they will get used to wearing a collar
Get them microchipped; in the event of a natural disaster or your fur kid just wandering off you will be so glad you did
Having said that, we all make mistakes and even when we do the right thing our fur kids can go missing so I hope our experience helps someone out there.
When Mickey went missing he wasn’t wearing a collar and he wasn’t microchipped and you can bet I kicked myself every day for this.
Both of my dogs wear collars with ID tags and are microchipped.
Why not my cat?
I had had what I thought were good reasons for not chipping and collaring him; he didn’t like his collar and kept taking it off. He might get hung by his collar. No one would ever check a cat for a microchip. He stays near the house anyway whereas the girls come places with me and the car and might get lost further afield…blah blah blah…
I was full of regret when I realized Mickey was lost in Patong among tens of thousands of other cats with no identification whatsoever. My sweet, snuggly little man was just a needle in a freaking huge haystack.
I also regretted allowing him to roam free.
How had I not noticed the ever-growing cat population on my street alone?
They were not all friendly either, they could be quite territorial and vicious. Cat fights could be heard every night. I should have noticed and stopped letting him out.
I had held an idealistic view of him enjoying his freedom but with all the perks of being a beloved pet and I had even said I felt he needed to be free sometimes to be a fulfilled cat and that if something happened I would just have to accept that as what nature intended…blah blah blah…
What the hell was I thinking?
I assure you I was anything but ok with what nature might have intended.
I was devastated.
I wondered what would become of the situation if I never found out what had happened to him and I knew I would never stop searching. I couldn’t stop searching.
Ok, so here’s the happy ending….
I made it through each day and did what I had to do for the sake of my dogs and in the hope that I would be reunited with Mickey but it was truly heart wrenching and every time I heard “our song” I would tear up (yes alright it’s “Thinking out Loud” not very original but Mickey actually looks like Ed Sheeran )
It didn’t help matters that I was working in a pub at the time and the band played that song almost every night. There were plenty of times it was hard to keep it together.
But I did.
And then one day an old lady came to me as I was walking my dogs and in Thai told me that she had seen Mickey at the local temple.
So, off I went. And I saw a lot of cats that looked like they could use a good home but not my Mickey.
I returned home downcast.
He had been gone three weeks.
Three long weeks of intense heartache and false leads.
I argued bitterly with my crazy neighbor and told her that she had too many cats and that they had chased my beautiful boy away and why did she have so many and not take care of them properly?
She said she didn’t want so many cats but she didn’t know what to do because they kept having kittens so I called Soi Dog and asked them to talk to this lady about sterilization (before I did something drastic) which to their credit they did but my neighbor and I were still arguing, and I was really getting close to breaking point by now, when along came the old lady who had said she’d seen Mickey at the temple.
I told her I’d been to the temple and he wasn’t there and she just looked at me strangely and got on her bike.
I waited a while but saw no sign of her and in complete desperation decided to take the car and go back to the temple myself.
I was just about to pull out of the street when I saw her on her motorbike and she waved me over urgently.
She had a sack. It was meowing.
I opened it and there he was.
It was Mickey.
She’d found him! This amazing lady had spotted Mickey at the local temple recognizing him from the fliers. His image and the reward offered must have gotten stuck in her mind.
I kind of shrieked with delight and laughed and hugged him and hugged her and came very close to hugging the motorcycle taxi guy who had wandered over to see what was going on. I’m sure that guy wasn’t as happy as we were because he was wishing he was the one getting the 5,000 baht reward but he still smiled politely sharing in the moment, probably wondering what the hell was all this fuss about a cat.
And then I bundled Mickey into that new blue crate which was ready in the car and took him home to see his dogs.
It was one of the happiest moments ever at Two White Dogs HQ
Do you have any tips to add for someone who might be looking for their pet?
Have you lost your cat or dog?
Do you need some advice or just some support?
Post a comment or question below.
Two White dogs and their Cat are here for you!