How to Find a Missing Outdoor Cat


Outdoor cats are independent and will go missing for a variety of reasons. They are often self-sufficient and will hunt and explore within a territory. The threat of predators or the lure of potential mates also will cause cats to go missing. Finding your missing outdoor cat requires persistence , observation and the collective eyes of your community.

Food Luring

Start by placing enticing food in a dish outside the house. Wet food and fish are especially useful for attracting cats. Use a familiar dish and an area where your cat is comfortable eating. Also utilize an area where you may see your cat eating. Monitor the dish daily and replace food as necessary. If the food is regularly eaten, there is a chance your cat is hiding but still sneaking back for food.

Trapping Outdoor Cats

Use a Havahart live trap if you fear for the cat. Regions with high predator populations are always a cause for concern. The cat may be spooked but willing to enter a trap baited with food and covered with familiar scents such as a favorite blanket. Trapping is best as a last resort or during a high risk situation.

Social Sourcing

Socially sourcing the rescue of your cat is an old technique that has tremendous value. Start by making flyers with a large picture and your contact information. Place the flyers around your neighborhood. Use prominent trees or poles and pin them to corkboards in local grocery stores. Post the information to your social web accounts and send a group text to anyone who lives in your neighborhood. This creates an army of eyes looking for your cat every day.

Animal Shelter

Call your local humane society and animal shelters to check for your cat. Some will update found animals on their website but others require calling or making a physical visit to check for your cat. Tell them your location, the cat's description and any distinct identifying features.

Looking Closer

Missing outdoor cats are often much closer to home than expected. Take a few steps back and do a thorough sweep of your neighborhood. Especially focus on the decks and secure hiding places in your immediate block. Frightened cats will take a hiding spot and wait for days at a time. Walk slowly, use a flashlight to investigate dark spots and look for fur, prints and other signs of your cat.


  • Always ask your neighbors for permission before entering their properties. Failure to gain consent puts you at risk of trespassing.

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