The emotions run high and fast. Is he here, there, ran over, eaten by Coyotes, under a car, in a tree, in someone’s house? It’s not easy to get past the emotion and get moving, but it’s what needs to happen if you want to get your cat back.
Being a rookie Cat Hunter, I was disappointed in what I found when I went to the Internet for a guideline on How To…! I am thankful for all the non-profit groups that try to help, but I really couldn’t find anything that was blunt. I ended up picking the eight that showed up on the homepage of Google and emailed the contact listed. I let them know my situation and asked for help…only two responded, but with great information.
So, for all you Cat owners, here you go: Save this link somewhere; Share it; Pin it; Print it and put in your Cat File, whatever you do, keep it in your circle for the unfortunate day that your Cat thinks the grass is greener on the other side. (Little do they know!)
#1. Don’t wait. Get out and call for your cat. Check any nooks and holes in your yard. As soon as you realize your cat is missing, let your 4-5 closest neighbors know. If it is an indoor cat only, it probably won’t go far. They huddle. The common saying is your cat will be within 10 houses of yours.
#2. Put it outside. If you have an indoor only cat, put some items outside that the cat will be able to pick up the scent. Your laundry basket, their toys, the cat liter box, scratching pad, cat food. Put some on your front porch, back porch, garage with the door cracked. Open your doors and let the house scent escape. I found out that cats can smell up to 3 miles away!
#3. Paperwork. Get out your cat paperwork. Hopefully you did yourself and your cat justice and got it microchipped. (If not, go to the clinic today!) Register your cat as missing. #1 The Microchip Company #2 Search for any online pet sites in your area. (Beware, some just want to see you services and aren’t really a help, I got super annoyed at the people cold calling about my missing cat!)
#4. Computer Time. Find some pictures and put together a LOST CAT POSTER. The Facts that you want on the poster: Cat’s Name. Color. Stature (thin, fat). Male/Female. Anything specific. Microchipped. Will your cat be drawn to something (Chicken)? Your phone number. There are programs that will help you with a poster, if you aren’t crafty.
You can offer a reward, but my personal opinion is there are enough animal lovers that you don’t need a reward…it just brings out the selfish people. Especially if you post a reward on Craigslist, don’t send anyone money until you get your cat back….don’t fall for a ploy. They are using your emotions.
#5. More Computer Time. Take the information that you just gathered up for the poster and post it on Craigslist.org. This was my biggest surprise: Craigslist is one of the MAIN HUBS of lost animals. There are two areas to post your lost Cat: Lost & Found and Pets. You will want to post everyday in both areas. You will also want to look for FOUND Cats and see if it’s yours.
Also utilize any other social media including Facebook for your local friends and for the shelter or non-profit organization postings.
#6. Copies. Get copies of your poster made. Color is better, but expensive. If you have a colored cat, it may be worth it. If you have a black cat, go with black and white. Make 100. If it is rainy out, get a box of plastic sheet protectors. Put the paper in it “upside down” so when you tape up the sign the opening is on the bottom…then rain won’t be able to get in.
#7. Post and Deliver. Make it your goal to get every single one of those posters out. Put them on mail boxes and key corners in your neighborhood.
This is the part that was the most difficult for me: knock on all your neighbors doors and let them know about your cat missing. (We actually have some really cool neighbors)
By now, your local environment has been informed!!!
#8. Animal Shelters. They are horrible. I hated this part. I almost came home with a new cat each time. Take your Cat’s Folder with you….the photos, the vet records, the microchip number. Keep the folder with your keys, have it with you at all times.
There are some key questions that you need to ask the workers at your shelters. Get past the emotion and start getting the information. #1. How does my cat get here? < This is huge. Can your cat only get there via a neighbor? Via a shelter truck? #2. What is your process for checking in cats? < Your point is to find out how they scan for microchips and identify a cat. #3. Do you register the cats online? If so where? #4. What is the States stance on Cats? (AZ, they are free roaming, so they wouldn’t pick up unless hurt or injured < If I had known that when making my sign, I would have put that info out there with the number.) 5. Understand what shelters you should go to…they say all in the area, but get real and narrow that down by the information you are given. Remember in most shelter environments, an animal only has a 72 hour lifespan. 🙁
#9. Animal Hospitals. Use Maps on your phone and put in “animal vet”. You will be able to see all the vets and hospitals in the area. Take your poster into each office and show them your cat along with giving them a little information. They are guaranteed cat lovers! Let them know your cat is microchipped. Also go to the box stores, but don’t be disappointed when they won’t put your picture up, or if you come back in a couple days and it’s down. (I was new to the area, so I also took this opportunity to see how they reacted and shopped vets! Piston has an appointment tomorrow!)
#10. Your Cats Past. Where did you come from? Where did the cat come from? Did you just move? Did you just adopt the cat? Be sure to contact your old neighbors and let them know. It is more common than uncommon for a cat to wander back to a old neighborhood or house. This takes a bit longer for the cat to make it that far, but put everyone on alert.
#11. Consider a CAT AMBER ALERT. OMG I know! I never thought I would be “that guy” but, well, I was. You need to find one that you can track. I used www.LOSTMYKITTY.com (They do dogs too www.LOSTMYDOGGY.com)
There is a second level to this type of service – If you work and can’t take all the time necessary to get to the Vets and to the neighbors, this service does the same work, a little less personal, but everyone knows your cat is missing.
#12. Keep Walking. Walk your neighborhood. At night or early morning is best. When did you feed your cat? When were it’s awake hours? Try and walk around in that time zone. Take the food bag with you and crinkle it and call the cat. Um, yea, you may get weird looks by people, that’s why I choose to go out at night.
#13. Do it Again. Keep moving. Post on Craigslist daily. Go to the shelters. Walk the neighborhoods. Talk to the neighbors. They are actually nice. Don’t give up on your kitty.
# Post-13. Undoing What You Did! When the time comes and you get your kitty back….then you have to undo everything you did. Walk the neighborhood and take down all the signs, (I put up a Found sign on my most local mailboxes so all my neighbors that I personally talked to knew), delete all your craigslist posts, and go through an log all your “missing cat” forms as found. Be sure to feed them slowly at first and make an appointment with the vet that you liked the most!
I am lucky. Piston didn’t come back, but he did end up on a neighbor 5-doors-down doorstep literally 7 days after leaving. Friday night to Friday night. It was 10pm when I received the phone call. My second call of the entire week! “Hi, I have Piston here. He is fine. We are giving him some chicken. He is hungry and scared.” I got the address, jumped in the truck (which I could have just walked) and brought Piston home! Our best guess is he was hunkered down somewhere between our houses. Luckily he hadn’t decided to go far.
Since Piston has been home, I have gotten another 3 phone calls, a couple checking in to see if Piston was home, and a couple others talking about another cat that looks similar to Piston that is down by the park. One guy called and said that his girlfriend made him walk down to the mailbox to get my number and call! There are good people out there!
I choose to not use my Facebook Social Media outlet for the Piston search because he has so many friends across the country. I needed to keep my focus on the Local Search. I gave myself until Friday to let people know that I had exhausted every option of looking for Piston. Gone through a tank of fuel in the truck going to the shelters; Met 50 neighbors; Posted signs on every mailbox in our square mile block (there are a lot!); Visited all 10 Vets; Walked every night; Invested in a Amber Pet Alert; Sat at my old house for a evening. I wasn’t giving up, but my conscious of trying was fulfilled, now Piston just had to make his way back home.
By Friday morning he hadn’t surfaced and I was ready to tell the world. Piston went viral! I couldn’t believe the number of shares! CRAWL Magazine, a national publication, shared it. Offroad companies shared it. Pistons friends shared it. The number of Likes was nill to none, but the number of comments on each were huge. They all meant a lot to me… MORE
All day, my phone and computer pinged as the nation was informed of Pistons disappearance. I am one to believe in good things, but could it have been because of the Facebook Family’s thoughts that Piston finally decided to turn himself in? We will never know. We will never know where he went. What he saw. What he thought. He is back to being a spoiled cat.
While Piston ate his first bowl of chicken in over a week, I let the Facebook world know that he was home! He smelled of dirt and cobwebs, but 10pm was not the time to get a bath, it could happen tomorrow. He cuddled on the bed with us and for the first night in many he had a safe nights sleep.
If you need help or support in finding your cat…don’t hesitate to reach out. I am not an expert Cat Catcher, but I understand…..