When a cat has been misplaced, it's hard not to panic, or feel that you will never see your cat again. Younger cat owners will feel a sad absence in the house and may become discouraged and give up the search early on. Don't give up! With the right steps unique to your pet, you can help your cat to return home.
Search your yard thoroughly. Calling out to your cat can help it recognize your voice. Talk with your neighbors — ask them if they have seen your cat. Get permission from your neighbors to search their yards thoroughly. Typical indoor cats who have escaped are most likely hiding, and will be someplace hidden away — maybe under a deck, under a bush or somewhere else secretive. Set humane cat traps if necessary; these can be loaned to you from an animal shelter. Be aggressive in your search tactics, and imagine hiding places from a (possibly frightened or bewildered) cat's perspective.
Call the animal shelter to see if your cat has been returned. Make flyers to put up around the neighborhood using a picture of your cat. This will help any possible cat-finders know that your cat is not feral, and return it home to you safely.
Walk through the cat's habitual "territory" (if it is an outdoor cat). Usually, when an outdoor cat has not returned home, it means that something happened in its territory (such as a fight with another cat). Ask yourself what may have happened to your cat in its usual territory. It may have been injured, may have gotten into a vehicle and accidentally been transported elsewhere or may have been chased up a tree. These events could cause a usually exploratory and confident cat to become silent and confused, and perhaps even paralyzed with fear.
Shake your cat's bag of dry food outside while you call it. If your cat is simply off having an adventure, it is probably hungry and may come running home if you call it.
Do not give up if your cat has not come home. Repeat the steps above, especially searching in your yard and the yards of your neighbors. Check the humane traps you have set.