When a beloved pet goes missing, you may feel powerless against the ticking clock. Your indoor cat may have escaped or your outdoor cat has been gone too long and all you can imagine is the worst case scenario. But don’t panic. With help from family, friends, and the City of Sacramento’s excellent cat-finding strategies, you’ll be able to find your feline hide and seek champion.
Lost your cat?
Cats love to go outdoors. Many indoor cats will sneak out whenever they have the chance and without close supervision, dash out the door or leap from an open window. All cats are territorial, so they don’t intend to leave their homes; they just get lost. Cats that are unfamiliar with the great outdoors often panic. They may run to find safety, get confused, and find themselves lost. Indoor/outdoor cats can get lost, too, but usually only if something frightens them or they find themselves in danger.
When looking for a lost cat, start as close to home as possible.
Before you assume the worst, check to make sure your cat isn’t just playing hide and seek! Cats are small and enjoy clever hiding spots, so check every corner of your home before tacking up lost cat flyers. Look underneath furniture, behind appliances, and on top of the cupboards for your missing kitty.
If your indoor cat really isn’t in the house, chances are it’s still very close by. Most indoor cats that get lost stay within 50 yards of their home; they’re probably not going to run far, so check your own backyard first. Check the shrubbery outside your home or, if you live in an apartment, in the hallways, adjacent balconies or patios, and stairwells.
Tips to find a lost cat
The best way to find a lost cat? Get out there and look! Here’s the best way to do it.
- Manually search for your cat within one city block of your home. Just waiting for your cat to come home or relying on kind neighbors will help, but it’s best to get out there yourself. Get permission from your neighbors to search their yards and surrounding areas.
- If you know how your cat got out of the house, leave the door or window open. Your cat may be able to find its way home and might simply come back in the house!
- But don’t wait to start your search. A cat looking for its way home might get turned around and head in the opposite direction. Start hunting right away when the cat is likely still very close by.
- Bring your cat’s favorite foods or treats when you search. A familiar scent may help lure your cat out of hiding, especially if it has been gone long enough to get hungry.
- Do the search yourself. A familiar voice and gentle tone is less likely to frighten a cat than a group of strangers forming a search party. If you do spot your cat, don’t run toward it or shout its name. The cat will likely be too scared to behave normally, so remain calm.
- Try searching at nighttime — cats tend to be most active at night. Bring a flashlight and search bushes and trees for eyeshine.
- Set a humane trap when you’re unable to search. Line the trap with newspapers, your cat’s favorite treats, and cover it with a blanket. If you found a cat that isn’t yours, read on for what to do with found cats.
Websites to find missing cats
Haven’t found your cat the old fashioned way? These websites are great resources for any lost cat.
- Nextdoor is a neighborhood-based website where people post all sorts of things that are happening in your area. The site can be as broad as an entire city, or as small as a few square city blocks
- Local Facebook groups are an excellent source for real-time communication with other people in your area. Search your local group for found cats and post a clear photo of your missing cat to help your neighbors search.
- Craigslist is an invaluable resource for people who live in major cities. Check the lost and found pets pages.
- PawBoost is an all-in-one shelter searcher, flyer printer, and notification app.
- Lost My Kitty is another notification app that boasts an 85% success rate.
- Finding Rover, now owned by Petco, is not just for dogs! Use facial recognition to find your lost cat or reunite a found one with its owner
How to find a lost cat in Sacramento
Sacramento is home to over 75,000 stray cats and you definitely don’t want your beloved kitty to join their ranks. Thankfully, the city of Sacramento has a plan. Whether you’ve lost your pet or found a furball, there is excellent infrastructure in place to reunite a lost cat with its loving family.
First, check Sacramento’s cat shelters and rescues. Navigate to the shelters’ “lost cat” pages and scan for a familiar feline face. If you recognize your cat at the shelter, write down its animal ID and dial 311 immediately. This will connect you to the City of Sacramento and they will assist you with recovering your cat. Do not go straight to the shelter. They have specific hours of operation and may not be available to reunite you with your cat right away. Don’t worry, they’ll keep your cat safe and fed until your pickup appointment.
If your cat hasn’t been picked up by a good Samaritan and taken to the shelter, text STRAY to 555888 and fill out a lost cat report. This number connects your information with the shelters and offers some great tips to find your kitty. The City of Sacramento has a fantastic cat-finding video with easy directions and lots of local resources.
Tap into Sacramento’s many Facebook groups meant specifically for finding lost cats and dogs. List provided by cityofsacramento.org .
- 916LostNFound Pets
- Del Paso Heights & North Sacramento Lost & Found Pets
- Lost-N-Found 916
- Natomas Lost & Found Pets
- Rosemont lost and found pets
- Sacramento, CA – Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets
- Sacramento Lost/Found Pets & Pet *help
- South Sacramento Lost Pets and Found/sur sacramento mascotas perdidas
Still can’t find your cat?
If you don’t find your cat right away, try not to panic. Cats are surprisingly self-sufficient when they need to be! Continue checking the sites and shelters every two to three days and don’t forget to check with your veterinarian if your pet’s been microchipped. Post flyers at busy intersections for greater visibility.
Most importantly, don’t give up. There have been countless stories of cats reuniting with their families weeks, months, or even years after going missing!
So you found a cat! Is it a stray or is it someone’s pet? Unless the cat is part of a colony, assume it’s a missing pet. Always document the time and place that you saw the cat. If possible, take a photo.
Chances are the cat is not far from its home. If it doesn’t have a collar, ask your friends and neighbors if the animal you saw is somebody’s pet. Some cats are roamers who live in the area, so it’s always wise to check with neighbors to see if their cat frequently goes outside. You can distribute flyers and post “found cat” flyers nearby in hopes of finding the owner.
Then, check the lost pets pages with the City of Sacramento. If the owner has reported the cat missing, write down the matching Animal ID and dial 311. The call center is open 24/7 and will help you take the proper steps to reunite the cat with its owner. Do not just bring the cat to the shelter: the shelter may not be open. Text FOUNDPET to 555888 to fill out a found cat report and check the pet-finding websites listed above for lost pet posts. You may also post a found pet page to help owners come to you.
When in doubt, take the cat to a pet clinic. Veterinarians will check a found cat for microchips at no cost to you. If it happens to be a stray cat, you’re encouraged to participate in your local trap-neuter-release program. Check out Sacramento’s TNR program here.
Is the cat an unweaned kitten or injured animal with a collar? Don’t ignore it — these cats need your help. Even if you’re not a cat person and not interested in taking care of a stray animal, the many Sacramento animal shelters will help care for the cat and find its rightful home.
Whatever you do, don’t assume the cat now belongs to you. It’s not legal to take or sell someone’s pet, even if it’s lost. You’re obligated to actively look for the owner for 90 days by following the steps above.
How to keep your cat from getting lost
Cats may wish to roam, but not all cats are equipped for life outdoors. Declawed cats, especially, should never be let outdoors unsupervised. If you have an indoor cat that just can’t resist chasing birds, consider leash training, carrying, or constructing a free-roaming cat enclosure for your fenced yard. Apartment dwellers can use a leash to let their cats out on the balcony or patio without the danger of falling.
If there is a chance your cat gets lost, take measures to make it easy for your cat to come home. Give your cat a well-fitting collar with accurate tags including a current phone number. Next time you’re at the veterinarian for a checkup, consider microchipping. If your cat already has a microchip, make sure the contact information is up to date. Always keep a clear, updated, full body photograph of your pet. Your cat will be happy to pose for you!
Looking for the best, most reliable way to make sure your cat stays safe even when you can’t be with it? Cat sitting, of course!