Lost Cat Troubleshooting


TCS Member
Thread starter
Jan 28, 2023
My cat went missing around 3 am two days ago, and I just want to make we are doing everything we can to get him back and that I haven’t missed anything. He is an indoor only cat and is on medication. He has never been outdoors and is very skittish. He came back after 24 hours and ate about half a can of food left on the porch, but ran away when the front door was opened. It has been 24 hours since this happened and he didn’t come back again last night. It’s winter and freezing out.

Things we’ve done so far:

Searched the entire area around where he went missing and as far as we could in the neighborhood.

Talked to all neighbors.

Put up flyers and gave them to all neighbors.

Put missing info on all socials and in Facebook lost cat groups.

Contacted local shelters and plan to go in to check for him in person.

Notified his vet.

Contacted the local police department.

Put his litter box outside (I know this is controversial).

Put used articles of clothing outside.

Put catnip outside.

Put up cameras outside.

Put out a trap with his food and salmon.

Put out warming pads.

Put warming food bowls out.

Made a cat warming shelter.

Walked around with a bag of treats.

Made sure his microchip info is up to date with our info.
Is there anything we are missing?


TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Jun 13, 2018
Central FL (Born in OH)
It sounds like you have covered the most traditional approaches. I will tell you that this happened to my neighbor, whose cat got out the door and was previously an indoor only cat. My neighbor stayed up for 3 nights in a row, looking out the window where she could watch her front door - she leaves food out the for the strays. On the 3rd night, she caught him coming to eat the food, she opened the door and he bolted. On the 4th night, she set a trap in that same area with one of his favorite foods - he went right into the trap, and she was there at the window watching. Of course, she went right outside and brought him in.

Everyone told her he would be cowering nearby, which did not seem to be his case, he hid out somewhere else during the day, but knew where his home was so with the trap, he is now safely at home. Don't stop doing all the things you are doing, but make sure at least one of your cameras is focused on a certain area where you place food and other things for him. Hopefully, he will use the trap as my neighbor's cat did!

You could also give flyers to other local vets, as well as pet stores, and other rescue groups, even local shopping areas that are nearby. Keep following up with all of them to keep your cat fresh in their mind. I don't think there is anything else in this TCS article, but just in case (2nd half of article is on cats lost outside)...
Help! My Cat Is Lost! – TheCatSite Articles


Rules my home with an iron paw
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Oct 16, 2015
North Carolina
Wrap the trap in a blanket. It makes it look more like a safe, dark den than a cage. Try baiting with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Most cats are FOOLS for KFC! Also, the best times to look are dusk and predawn. Cats are crepuscular, and more active at these times. Carry a flashlight to check in dark, enclosed places, including thick, low bushes. Check outbuildings especially. And under houses, where you can. They frequently have things like heating units under them which might provide heat.

But you really have covered most of the bases. WHEN you see him, sit down and shake that treat bag. Speak gently and let him approach you. He's on high alert right now, and while he knows and loves you, his instincts might override his love for you.


TCS Member
Adult Cat
Nov 29, 2022
I found this which may help:

The Missing Animal Response Network has found that:

  1. They’re unlikely to be at a shelter or pound Only 2% of cats are found at shelters. Most cats either come home on their own (very rare for a scaredy cat or tame foster cat) or are found from doing an active search of your own, and neighbours’, properties.
  2. They’re probably nearby Being territorial, cats usually stay very close to where they got out, especially if they’re scaredy cats. Confident cats may explore a little more.
  3. They’ll be silent and won’t respond when you call At home, they might drive you nuts with miaowing when they’re hungry, but now, they’re frightened. Very frightened. To keep themselves safe, they will usually be completely silent. They won’t miaow or call for you, even if injured. So there’s little point calling for them, as it’s unlikely they will come, no matter how much you shake the munchies tin. Annoying!
  4. They’ll go hungry They will often hide until starvation forces them to move (7 to 14 days).
  5. You need to search for them Most cats are found from really thorough searching of nearby properties.
  6. You need to search yourself Neighbours don’t care about your cat like you do. They won’t search their property like it needs to be done – you will need to do this. If they don’t like cats, they won’t search at all.
  7. You need to search at night Searching at night with a strong, focused torch, looking for your cat’s eyeshine, is the best use of your time. Cats are more likely to come out at night and their eyeshine makes it really easy to see them. Be thorough – crawl or look under houses, under decks, under bushes, check nooks and crannies in sheds, up trees, on rooves etc.
  8. You may need to use a humane trap Scaredy cats can be delicate and anxious beings at the best of times. When displaced, they’re even more so. Even confident cats sometimes require trapping when ‘away from home’.Watch a video from the Missing Animal Response Network on what lost cats do.

Cat McCannon

TCS Member
Super Cat
Mar 28, 2021
When Belle ran off due to my own stupidity, I left the back door open overnight. She came home the next morning and was in the kitchen by her dish, waiting for breakfast as if nothing happened.