How to find a lost cat

By | November 29, 2016
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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!

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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

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 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.

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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.

Search

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.

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If you’ve lost a pet in Thailand be sure to check the temples!

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.

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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.

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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

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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!

 

Facebook Comments

11 thoughts on “How to find a lost cat

  1. Netta

    Hey Alison:

    I loved the happy ending to your Mickey story. What a marvelous validation of the concept that if you invest in all-out effort for something that is very important to you, the Universe will work to help you get it.

    In the weeks before Mickey was found you had many people looking for him because you put out so much effort on your own. Also, you learned lessons that helped you prevent the same thing from happening again.

    Awesome story!

    Reply
    1. Alison

      Hi Netta,

      Yes absolutely.
      I knew I would find him so I did. It was a huge effort but obviously well worth it. We all slept soo well when we finally got him back, all four of us!
      That’s why now I really want to help other people who need the encouragement, other people who are going through the pain of a lost pet and need some advice or just someone to talk to who isn’t sick of hearing about it.
      It’s just my way of showing gratitude. I might not have found Mickey if it weren’t for a few very kind people helping me. There was a nice lady who translated my flier because my written Thai wasn’t up to scratch and then people who let me post fliers in their shops…people who helped look for him…and then of course the lady who finally found him at the temple.
      Through telling this story I’m paying it forward.
      And yes I did learn some lessons in responsible cat ownership that I hope other people and their cats will benefit from.
      Thanks for your comment Netta!

      Reply
  2. Evie

    I was so hoping for a happy ending in that story and so pleased that you found Mickey. Do you still leave him out or has he now become an indoor kitty? I decided before I got cats that I was never going to leave them out and so I have always had indoor cats only. Because mine were indoor from kittens and have lots of enrichment toys they are perfectly content. When I lived in a house the people living next door to me were always losing their cat – I think every few months they would post fliers through letterboxes as their cat used to have a habit of following people into garages and hiding before they saw him. Think the last time he went missing was for about 3-4 weeks.

    Reply
    1. Alison

      Hi Evie,
      Mickey is strictly an indoor cat now. He has toys and then of course he has his dogs to play with.
      His doggy sisters make sure he gets plenty of exercise, but I have had to modify his diet somewhat.
      I believe Mickey is fairly content as an indoor cat.
      I understand what you mean about the garages and stuff, when Mickey was missing I was so worried that someone might have accidently locked him in somewhere. The house next door was vacant at the time and it’s so hot here in Phuket, it was very worrying. I checked my own car many times!
      There’s just no way a cat can be safe let out to roam where I live.
      Thank you for your comment and you raised some great points for us all to be aware of.
      Warmest regards,
      Alison

      Reply
  3. Nancy B.

    Wow. I am so glad this had a happy ending! I don’t know what I would do if either of my cats went missing 🙁

    Your story has prompted me to get my cat chipped. One of them is – it was standard at the shelter where he came from – but the other is not (I got him from a different shelter). I never let my cats out so I really didn’t think it was necessary, but then you mentioned things like natural disasters. Not that there are many natural disasters where I live, but you never know – nobody expects them!

    Thank you for sharing your story. Here’s hoping I never have to use your tips!

    Reply
    1. Alison

      Hi Nancy,

      I hope you never have to use my tips too but yes it’s a great idea to get your other cat micro-chipped anyway just in case.

      We just never know what’s going to happen and in the event of a natural disaster, a car accident with the animals in the car, a fire…or just someone leaving a door or window open by mistake… well it just adds another layer of protection that I’m certainly glad I can give my precious little ones.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Warm regards,
      Alison

      Reply
  4. Adrian

    I’m glad all your hard work paid off in finding Mickey, for him to be missing for three weeks is a long time and you could be forgiven for wanting to give up on the search for him.

    I’ve got three cats at home and the one we got this year, his name is Rafael, he likes to go for a little wander from time to time.

    Sometimes he has been missing for up to nearly three days but he always manages to find his way home. The other two cats don’t wander off like him, they’re all desexed and we live in a quiet cul de sac with not too many other cats around.

    He has been micro-chipped, but it would be good if you could track him on your computer or smartphone, if the technology could be enhanced to do that, it would be great as I just wonder where on earth does he go.

    Reply
  5. sharoncl

    Hi Alison, my cat has recently gone missing it is so upsetting i have come across your site and i have been following your information which has helped me alot, it has been very frustrating calling her in the mornings, tapping her bowl,thinking that i have seen her or even heard her.
    I have followed your instructions hoping that soon we will be reunited, would you believe it i shook her food at the back door this morning and here she is with a damaged foot.I have just come back from the vets and they have told me that when a cat is injured it will stay away from home for a while, the vet seems to think it was caught in a mouse trap 🙁 bless her she has lost part of her paw , thankfully the vet said she should be fine. So just like you a happy ending 🙂

    Reply
    1. admin

      Wow, Sharon I’m so glad your cat finally came back.
      Yes I have heard the same thing, that cats stay away when they are injured and it was on my mind a lot when Mickey went missing. I thought maybe one of the neighbors cats had hurt him.
      I now think he may have been injured or lost and so someone took him to the temple. That’s what people tend to do here in Thailand. At least at the temple animals get fed by the monks.
      I’m glad my post was helpful to you and you got your happy ending, thanks so much for sharing.
      Alison

      Reply
  6. SanShar

    When cats go missing, there’s usually something very wrong.

    I say this because cats have the tendency to always return home. They may go out and occasionally stay extended periods of time, but they will always come home. I know because we had a cat, and she used go out, sometime overnight, sometimes just a couple of hours, but she always return.

    Male cats have been know to stay away longer, especially when their in heat. Still, they too eventually come home.

    Reply
  7. Shirley

    Oh my god, I read that whole thing with a lump in my throat. Losing my cat is my absolute worst nightmare, he’s my best mate. When he was a kitten he went missing for a day and I almost lost my mind, I found him when I saw him fall out of a tree across the road. That’s when I decided Sparrow was going to be an inside cat, he’s just far too ridiculous for the outside world. I can’t even imagine what you were going through and I’m so happy that you got Mickey back. I’m going to find my little fluffball and give him a big hug now!

    Reply

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