By Sari Reis
As the pet parent of two kitties, I am very aware of the terrible stress that occurs should your sweet feline friend go missing. Statistically, only 8 percent of cats get reunited with their owners if they have escaped from home. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, most cat owners do not have their kitties microchipped and if they do, they haven’t updated the information in the registry with current address and phone numbers. If a cat is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary office, the first thing that happens is they are scanned for a microchip. Obviously if they do not have one, the owner cannot be contacted.
Secondly, cats are not often wearing collars with identification tags giving their owners’ address and phone number. This would also be extremely helpful in returning the cat to its home.
Thirdly, many cat owners wait too long before they begin their search for their missing cat thinking they will come home on their own when they get hungry. Unfortunately, that is not the case; especially if the kitty is frightened, disoriented and skittish.
For indoor only cats, the experience of finding themselves outside after a quick escape can be terrifying. Many of them, realizing their error, will head right back to the door. Sadly, most get panicked and run to hide. Frequently they will hide in bushes and other foliage surrounding their home or in their immediate vicinity. That is one of the reasons they should be sought out as soon as possible. If they see their owner and hear a familiar voice they may come or at least stay put. On the other hand, if strangers see them and pursue them it may make them take off in fear, wandering farther and farther from home.
If your cat has outdoor privileges, it can be even more worrisome if they do not return when they normally do. For many, that is in the early a.m. after hanging out in their “hood.” If they do not come back as expected, start your search. They could be sick, injured, trapped or worse. Do not assume they are okay and will come back when they are ready.
Kat Albrecht, who started a pet detective academy in 2004, has built a business around finding lost pets. She suggests starting with checking with local shelters, vet offices and lost-pet websites, as well as social media such as Facebook. Then, go out and look. Search your own property and then get neighbor’s permission to do a thorough search of their yards. She advises searching late at night, as well as during the daytime, using a flashlight of course. Check under cars parked in the street, open garages, and out-buildings. Under decks is also a good place to look.
Of course the best thing to do is to prevent the cat from escaping in the first place; but just in case they pull a Houdini, be sure they are microchipped and have a collar with your contact information on it. For more information on lost-cat-recovery, contact missinganimalresponse.com.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.