If You've Lost Your Indoor Cat...

Having your beloved indoor cat get lost can be a very traumatic experience.  We are here to help however we can! These tips can help increase the odds of you being safely and quickly reunited. 

If you adopted your cat from MAC, please contact us at (423) 305-6500 x3. We will send out a Facebook alert to our followers, as well as share the information with our staff and volunteers.

Search Near Your Home and Alert Your Neighbors

When indoor-only cats get out for the first time, they are usually scared and will panic (even if they seemed very eager to try and escape the house!).


Typically they will head for what appears to be the closest “safe” place to hide, under a porch, in shrubbery, inside a shed, garage or outbuilding, etc., and will hunker down. 


Cats will generally not run across open fields or expanses of roadway or land unless they have no safe hiding spot closer by. The good news is that your cat is more than likely very close to home, usually no more than 2 to 3 houses away.  The bad news is that as long as she is scared she is not likely to come out of hiding or let herself be easily found for hours, days or even weeks, because her fear of predators will override her desire to respond to your calls.  Don’t give up!


Keep your search close to home, carefully scouring your entire property and your close neighbors’ properties, particularly places that are relatively dark, dry and hard to access (like under a deck, for example). Ideally, search at night and use a flashlight to try and locate the reflection of her eyes, since she will want to blend into the shadows as much as possible and may be difficult to see.  


Important Note: You may get advice to put your cat’s litterbox, food or similar items outside to lure your cat back home. Unfortunately, doing this may actually attract other cats and wildlife to the area, making your cat feel even more threatened.  A better option is to put out articles of clothing, blankets, etc. that carry your scent and will smell familiar only to her. 


It may take several days or longer before your lost indoor cat feels hungry and thirsty enough to risk calling back to you or leaving her hiding spot.  Setting up a humane trap to catch her when she does can be an effective way of capturing her – please call us at (423) 305-6500 x3 for information on renting a trap.


Focus your attention close to home, where she first escaped, keep searching and don’t give up!  

Spread the Word!

File lost pet reports immediately with local animal shelters, veterinary offices, pet supply stores, anywhere that “animal people” might congregate.


Be sure to visit local shelters in person to view their animal populations, since your description of your animal may not match someone else’s (for example, while you may know your cat is clearly a Russian Blue, she may have been entered into the shelter’s software system as a grey, or your buff tabby may been described by someone else as orange).  The only way for you to know for sure is to view every cat yourself, and do so regularly, every few days.


If you are posting lost pet flyers (remember, your indoor-only cat is likely to be hiding just feet away from your house, not across town), you will likely have better response by using language like “REWARD” or “PET NEEDS MEDICATION” than just “LOST PET”.  Be sure there is a clear picture of your pet on the sign, and remember that collars, etc. could have fallen off. If possible, hold back one or more distinguishing features (like an old scar) that you could use to verify whether someone calling about obtaining the reward actually has your pet.

Leverage the Power of the Internet!

Try to post your lost pet on as many local website as possible.  In addition to “lost pet” sites, post on your local neighborhood Facebook groups (like North Chattanooga Neighbors) and any other community pages.  Be sure to use a recent, clear picture of your pet, and if there is more than one animal on your photo be sure the one lost is easily identified.  

There are many social media sites in the area devoted to helping lost pet owners, including:


Other excellent options are to post your lost pet information on Pawboost.com, which will alert local Facebook followers, and on the Nextdoor app.


While it’s good to spread the word about lost pets, keep in mind that your indoor cat is lily to be very close to home, so you are likely to have the greatest success by alerting your neighbors and other locals.  


For more information and tips visit:  https://www.missinganimalresponse.com/lost-cat-behavior/