Lost cat in rural/farm area

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snowynight

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Brave the cold nights for at least of couple of days before considering a trap.
Thanks FeebysOwner. Do you think me being outside will make a big difference? I feel really terrible saying it but I don't think I have it in me tonight... This has consumed 100% of me the last two days and I am feeling so guilty/sad and my family has no cell service right now so I haven't even been able to let them know whats going on.

I've set up the couch by the window so I can watch everything going on on the porch and haven't seen her the past two nights but I did get a couple hours of sleep each night too. I've downloaded an app for an old phone and tried to set it up to record all night. I'm not sure if this will work but if so it will help cover the hours I miss with my eyes closed. What area should I be recording? Where I think she may be or the 'feeding area'? There are some cameras on the property already but I've never had the need to use them so I don't know how to access the footage.. When my family gets home hopefully they can help me review it. I don't think they are pointed in the direction she is most likely to be but I could see if she has left via the driveway.

This might work :)
Thank you Furballsmom! I'm wondering if I should run back into town to pick up a couple traps.. At least then I would feel like I'm actually doing something to resolve this...

I am so sorry for your stress! One thing I have heard can be successful is putting their litter box outside by the door. I've seen several cases where that has helped the cat finds its way home. Best of luck! And don't forget to take care of yourself.
Thank you Kokomo. I didn't have the litter box out the first night but I put it out the second. Unfortunately I had cleaned it and changed the litter the day before so it's probably not too smelly. I never thought I should be saving that old litter for something... I am trying to take care of myself but it's a struggle. I feel so guilty doing anything except searching for her or researching.

I am really at a loss. I feel like I have searched every nook and cranny and it hasn't helped a bit.
 

Furballsmom

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I'm wondering if I should run back into town to pick up a couple traps..
Bless your heart, I totally understand :)

the 'feeding area'
Probably this, I think.

Smelly food, tuna, anchovies, kentucky fried chicken - as you know you'll end up with others, but hopefully your girl will be drawn in by the enticing odors as well :vibes::crossfingers::heartshape: I'm SO keeping my fingers crossed for you!!
 
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snowynight

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Thank you Furballsmom... I really hope so too.

I have the door open just wide enough for her to push through but the door stop keeping it closed is light enough that she would be able to push it out of the way easily if she wanted more room. Do you think I should have the door open wider? One of the stray cats came into the house on the first night so I know it is wide enough at least... I don't plan on having any food right inside by the door so the strays don't come in again. Is this a bad idea? I guess I will have enough food out now that they shouldn't need to.

The entry way is kind of cut off from the rest of the house and is difficult to heat so any wider might be chilly inside but if that's what gets her inside it would be worth it.

I'm sorry too for asking all these questions. I know you don't have all the answers but having everyone on this forum to talk this over with has been so helpful for me.
 

Furballsmom

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One of the stray cats came into the house on the first night so I know it is wide enough at least...
Not to distract you from your current situation, but would you be interested in helping this kitty? It seems to be rather open to the idea.

Is this a bad idea?
As long as you think something else (other than another cat) won't come in, you should be ok, and you're right, the odors coming from inside the house could be another tempter for her, and give her that access she could be looking for.

I know you don't have all the answers but having everyone on this forum to talk this over with has been so helpful for me.
No worries, this is why we're here :hugs:
 
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snowynight

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I don't know the full details of the strays, but my understanding is they are feral cats adopted out by the humane society to farms for pest prevention. I'm not sure why they aren't fixed but I think they have been here 10+ years so maybe it wasn't the norm back then. The property is shared with extended family (who are all away now too) so I don’t have full say in what goes on. I think the plan is to catch and fix them. We do feed them year-round. I know it’s not the best life for a cat… :(

Sorry I worded it a bit weird but I was asking if it was a bad idea to only have food outside, not inside. But based on your answer I think I will have some food inside too. The sun is setting now so I will start to get the food out for them. Its been 3 days but it feels like months. I don't know how long I can keep going on searching like this but I also know I cant give up.
 

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Do you think me being outside will make a big difference? I feel really terrible saying it but I don't think I have it in me tonight...
Unfortunately, there is no way to know. I was only suggesting it because if she hears you and you're there with food, it could make her come out from where she is hiding. I am so sorry you are alone right now with no one to help. You have to do what you are comfortable doing.
What area should I be recording? Where I think she may be or the 'feeding area'?
If you are not sure, try one area and then the next night another. I guess I would try the feeding area first, as I didn't get the impression you have any idea where else she may be.
 
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snowynight

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If you are not sure, try one area and then the next night another. I guess I would try the feeding area first, as I didn't get the impression you have any idea where else she may be.
No unfortunately not. I have been through every outbuilding (except the one blocked by ice) and there is 0 sign of her. Shes not in the woodpile, not under the decks, not in the crawlspaces, not in the attics, not in the garage, not under any trees... I know finding a cat isn't easy but its so hard to stay positive with 0 results. She must be well hidden otherwise I think the dogs would have found her today. I know it's not helpful to be frustrated but I'm feeling really defeated and out of ideas.

I took the dashcam out of my car and set that up to record the feeding area. Maybe there will be some paw prints in the fresh snow tomorrow I can follow up on...
 
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snowynight

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I have the 'kitty buffet' set now... I think there are 7 choices... 3 dry, 4 wet. I do feel a little relief having that set up but it also feels like the lazy way out and because of that I have little confidence that it will work. I made my self some food while preparing the buffet so I am hoping I will feel more human after having that.

The camera is set too. I have to have two out of three lights on for it to pick up a good image so hopefully she isn't too scared of the light. I have had the lights on the past 3 nights so tomorrow I may try with them out. I don't know what will make her feel most comfortable coming home...

I have a recording playing of myself singing a little song we sing together and reading from a book. Its quite short because I was feeling too distracted to follow along with the book but it will loop and hopefully she wont notice it's only about 10 mins.

I have her litter box and favourite blankets out. There is a box with a blanket out there for her if she wants to use it. Once I finish my dinner I will add the outfit I am wearing to the dirty laundry out there too.

The buffet had its first visitor (a stray) not 20 seconds after I put the first option out. She got scared off with me putting the rest out but as I type she is back and it looks like shes eaten most of the ground beef. She is always the first to come when I feed the strays so it's no surprise. I have some more cooked food to refill those in a few hours. She has been seeing a lot of me lately and seems to be getting used to me. I think Furballsmum is right and I should be doing more for the strays. One thing at a time though...

I think my lack of sleep the past two nights is catching up to me and it feels like I might get a full nights sleep tonight whether I want to or not. I am going to try to push it as late as possible and get out there to call for her. I have my alarm set for 3:30 am to refill the buffet and get out there looking.

I read a website today that said based on her personality the only way she will come home is if I can find her and bring her back. I really hope that's not going to be the case because I think she is much better at hiding than I am at looking. If I do get some sleep tonight I'm sure I will be more effective at searching for her tomorrow.

Thank you everyone for following along and for all the likes and support. I don't think this forum is intended to be my personal journal but getting my thoughts out and speaking with all of you today has helped tremendously for my mental state. I am really impressed that so many of you hang out in this SOS section. It must be tough to read so many of these stories and not always get a happy ending. I have read all sorts of statistics these past few days telling me anywhere from 2% - 90% of cats will make it back safely. I hope 90% is closer to correct... she is still young and must have most of her 9 lives still to spare.

The stray at the buffet just left. I had a look and she's had most of two of the options but no matter what/how much I put out for them to eat she always leaves some for the next cats to arrive.

I hope I will have some good news for all of you soon.

Thank you again :lovecat2:
 

Furballsmom

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I think Furballsmum is right and I should be doing more for the strays. One thing at a time though...
Bless your heart, and it (your heart) is a big one.

You've set up a lot of great things, and I totally don't believe that website about her not making it back. :)!

matter what/how much I put out for them to eat she always leaves some for the next cats to arrive.
Cats are amazing!!
 

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Don’t give up! I’ve been down this road too. I even camped out I was so desperate. Lol I did find my kitty. She was feral so finding a lost feral ( and kittens) was frustrating. I had worked with them for a very long time and was near to bringing them in for socializing when the vanished. I found the kittens first but still no mom. I’ve also had a resident cat get out.
Does your kitty have a favorite thing to sleep on or in? If so, put it somewhere sheltered she may find it. Cameras and baby monitors are a great help for sight and sounds. I have been working with catching ferals for a long time. I had my best lunch at about 12:30 at night, 3:00 in the morning, daybreak and around 9:00 or 10:00 I’m the morning. Do you have a routine schedule of feeding? If so, offer food at the same time and watch from a hidden spot. Sometimes they are just scared. I often hid under a tarp but an idea someone mentioned lately that I really loved is to use a large box to hide in. Cats love big boxes. An appliance box would shelter you and look great to a cat.
If your cat isn’t responsive to calling, try the opposite. Sit in the darkest spot near where she escaped and be as quiet as possible and just watch. I know it’s cold but try to be very still. If she does show up, it’s better if you are opposite of where she escaped so when you move or make noise, if she is scared, she may run for her original escape route.
Another thing I used is a large carrier/crate that the cats already were familiar with. I put food inside. I also just made a cat bed in some and put them along pathways along the edges of the house it under shrubbery.
If you use a trap in very cold weather, you really must check it very often. I never left traps unattended. If you put a baby monitor beside it you can stay inside and listen for it to trip but if you go to bed, you need to close the trap. A cat can get very scared in a trap. They can also get too cold or predators can send the trap tumbling.
The litter box is familiar to her whether it carries her smell or not. Use it as a lure.
Do you have a grill or other source of warmth outside? Get it warmed up , (don’t leave it burning though) and then leave an watch. Cats love heaters of any kind.

Make sure you get rest and take time for good meals. In order to track properly, you must take care of yourself.
One last tip for now. Can you leave a window open just enough for her to get in with a nightlight on inside that room? She might try sneaking in that way. Cats are masters at hiding. She is probably very near and well aware of all you do. Don’t give up.
 
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snowynight

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Thanks Jcatbird. I have had the door open a crack ever since she left but not with a light on inside.

I just refilled the cat buffet. I will have to review the footage tomorrow but there are some prints near the door that I would like to know more about.

I don't have a heater outside. I could probably set it up so that an oil heater is outside though.

She doesn't really have any favourite things or places (loves everything) so I'm not too sure what else I can put out to get her attention.

Watching the strays they aren't going the direction I would expect them to come/go from. I think the only thing I haven't tried at this point is camping out all night so I need to plan to do that tomorrow.

How long did it take you to catch your cats and what finally worked?
 
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snowynight

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Wow the fresh snow is really amazing for tracking. Unfortunately all I learned is that I am looking in the right spots for the cats who are moving around. My suspicion is that my cat hasn't started moving yet but I should be able to check the recording tomorrow to confirm that. It looks like most if not all of the prints came by for a stop at the porch buffet.
 
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I think I know where she is but I can't get all the way in unfortunately. I think I have blown my chance to get her in tonight :(. Seeing her and knowing that she's safe makes me pretty confident that this kitty buffet and door open will work eventually!
 
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snowynight

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Thank you Jem! I feel so much relief.

Do you think I should try to move her box/blanket closer to the door? The porch is kind of an odd layout. It's about 40ft long and the entrance/exit to her hiding spot is on the far side from the door. The side furthest away is covered and that's where I have her box right now. The side close to the door is uncovered and that's where I have some of the more exciting food choices.

I'm thinking I should leave it as is though. She was comfortable enough to come up and lay down to nap in the box how it is. I feel like an idiot for rushing out to grab her but I couldn't stop myself.

With the door wide open tonight hopefully she will be curious and come inside.

The weather tonight and tomorrow night is a little bit warmer. Tuesday there is a forecast for freezing rain so hopefully she's back inside by then.
 

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I would probably leave it where it is, she knows it's there and was comfortable using it. But what I would also do, is add a second box closer to the door if possible, as long as it doesn't block or discourage quick access to your door if she feels need to to get inside.
 
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