Our six month old kitten went missing 2 days ago...

irrationallypie

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I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm extremely worried and desperate, and any advice would help.

Two days ago, on November 5 at around 5 am, our little baby Loki went missing. He's a gray six-month-old kitten, lanky for his age but still just a baby :( He loves going outside (especially with our older cat, who's a seasoned outside-goer) and knows his way around our backyard very well, but he never stays outside for very long before running back home and sleeping the day away...

We live in Mississippi, and our house is surrounded by wildlife and forest. I'm so worried that Loki has had a run-in with a coyote or even a dog, or that he's been run over.

How hopeful can I be for his safe return, especially for a cat who's not even a year old? And does anyone have some kitten-finding tips for me?

I've left his litter box outside, posted flyers around the neighborhood, alerted the local Petco and PetSmart, and told our neighbors... Don't know what else to do, and I'm just devastated. We've gone out multiple times every day and searched the neighborhood and deep into our backyard, but to no avail...It just doesn't seem like him to hide. :(

Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated.
 

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neely

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Welcome to TCS! :wave3: I'm terribly sorry to hear your six month old kitten, Loki, went missing. :frown: When you let him out at 5 a.m. did you watch to see which direction he was going in the yard? Is he microchipped?
Here is a link to several TCS Articles with tips to help find a lost cat:
Tips for finding a lost cat

Other members have been in a similar situation and I'm sure will weigh in with their advice. Wishing you the best of luck finding Loki safe and unharmed. :crossfingers: Please keep us updated.
 
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irrationallypie

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Hello!

The problem is that when my dad opened the door at 5am, it was to let our older cat out. He did not even see Loki rush through the door...we have no idea where he went. My friend, who had brought fostered him and gotten him neutered, says that he should have been microchipped, but I'm not sure about that either :( It's really stupid that we didn't make sure of that earlier.

Thank you for your support 🙏 I really appreciate it. It's been a difficult few days.
 

Morpheus1967

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See if your local vet offices will let you put up a flyer as well.
 
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irrationallypie

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irrationallypie irrationallypie Any updates? I hope you get good news soon. 🤗
No news yet :( But I hope we get good news soon too! Worried sick, especially about the cold and about possible predators. But we've done our best to spread the word, and we're talking walks during different times of the day. I hope he comes home soon.
 

MackerelTabbyStripes

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If your friend remembers where he was neutered, that vet may have a record of his microchip too, maybe? You'll want to get the number registered to you with the recording companies, so that anyone who scans him in the future would be able to get your contact info.

Will neighbors let you check in garages/sheds? He may be locked in one. It's very hard to lose a cat. Mine went missing this summer, and we looked for 7 weeks with motion cameras, food luring stations, etc. We ended up having to use a humane trap and recovered our cat after all that time.
 
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irrationallypie

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Ahh, thank you so much for responding! We've checked with the clinic (where Loki was neutered) numerous times for any information about a microchip, but they haven't been able to give us a clear answer. My friend says she's positive that she asked for him to be microchipped as well. She's going to stop by tomorrow and check 🙏

I've only checked two neighbors' sheds so far, but that's a great idea -- thank you! I'm going to do the rest tomorrow. I'm sorry you guys had to go through all of that, but I'm very happy to hear you found your cat back eventually!

Could you tell me a bit about humane traps? I think they're a good idea, but I'm not completely sure how to go about it. My parents think that they're unnecessary for Loki's case and that if he was close enough to home to be lured by a humane trap, he would just come straight to the door instead. (I can see where they're coming from, but this is under the premise that Loki is genuinely lost and not just in hiding.)
 

Mamanyt1953

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If Loki is accustomed to being inside, he may be terrified, and in that case, he may not approach the door. It is not familiar to him from that side (the outside). Check small, dark, enclose areas, including under thick brush and bushes. He'll be more active at dawn and dusk, so those are prime times for searching. Take a flashlight, as many cats are found by their eye shine! And don't forget to look UP! It's quite easy for a cat to go up a tree, but coming down can be a real problem for them!
 

MackerelTabbyStripes

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In my case, my cat was not familiar with outside, and thus not at all familiar with getting back inside by approaching the door. So she basically thought of the door as a very big, open space where she would be visible by any nearby predator and was too threatened to approach. She did, in contrast, approach close to the edge of the house behind bushes.

I used several different humane traps, she was very trap-shy because I think she recognized traps from when she was captured as a feral kitten before she was then socialized to be an indoor housecat. So hopefully your cat will be less tricky.

There's some mention of traps here, and MARN is a fantastic resource in general:
Lost Cat Behavior

Lost pet research and recovery was also go-to when I was searching for mine:
Best Humane Cat Traps - Lost Pet Research and Recovery
They have a lot of additional info, but that linked page will discuss the different options around specific equipment. Hav-a-heart are the most available (and we bought one of these pretty quickly), but Tru-Catch are built for cats (we had to borrow one of these from a local group working with wild cats.)

There is more detail about traps in the context of missing animals (which differs from some of the advice for wild/feral cats that are secure in territory -- lots of TNR resources discuss trapping in that context and not all of the tips will translate well):
Humane Trap Guidelines

Despite my caveat above about TNR groups having different focus because lost cat and feral cat behavior can differ, they also are a tremendous resource particularly when discussing specifics around the equipment -- or finding youtube videos of exactly how to set different trap types. Cats in Action & Ally Cat Allies are resources here, though I can't instantly find the best pages out of their websites right now when I'm looking.

I hope you are able to bring your beautiful kitten home!!

You will also want to confirm where your cat may be wandering, and see where might be the best place to put the trap. I used a couple of these trail cams: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081ZYLZSX/?tag=thecatsite
I used those when I had to set up far from my house, and we set up a significant security camera system connected to our wireless locally. If your parents aren't 100% on board with believing your kitten is around and just not approaching the house, you'll probably have to use a trail cam rather than full security system (it should work, especially if baited with food). I did not do extensive research to ensure that the camera I used is the best, and there were some that were a bit cheaper, but it did work, worked at night as well, and had both video & still options.
 
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irrationallypie

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If Loki is accustomed to being inside, he may be terrified, and in that case, he may not approach the door. It is not familiar to him from that side (the outside). Check small, dark, enclose areas, including under thick brush and bushes. He'll be more active at dawn and dusk, so those are prime times for searching. Take a flashlight, as many cats are found by their eye shine! And don't forget to look UP! It's quite easy for a cat to go up a tree, but coming down can be a real problem for them!
Thank you so much; we won't give up the search!
 
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irrationallypie

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In my case, my cat was not familiar with outside, and thus not at all familiar with getting back inside by approaching the door. So she basically thought of the door as a very big, open space where she would be visible by any nearby predator and was too threatened to approach. She did, in contrast, approach close to the edge of the house behind bushes.

I used several different humane traps, she was very trap-shy because I think she recognized traps from when she was captured as a feral kitten before she was then socialized to be an indoor housecat. So hopefully your cat will be less tricky.

There's some mention of traps here, and MARN is a fantastic resource in general:
Lost Cat Behavior

Lost pet research and recovery was also go-to when I was searching for mine:
Best Humane Cat Traps - Lost Pet Research and Recovery
They have a lot of additional info, but that linked page will discuss the different options around specific equipment. Hav-a-heart are the most available (and we bought one of these pretty quickly), but Tru-Catch are built for cats (we had to borrow one of these from a local group working with wild cats.)

There is more detail about traps in the context of missing animals (which differs from some of the advice for wild/feral cats that are secure in territory -- lots of TNR resources discuss trapping in that context and not all of the tips will translate well):
Humane Trap Guidelines

Despite my caveat above about TNR groups having different focus because lost cat and feral cat behavior can differ, they also are a tremendous resource particularly when discussing specifics around the equipment -- or finding youtube videos of exactly how to set different trap types. Cats in Action & Ally Cat Allies are resources here, though I can't instantly find the best pages out of their websites right now when I'm looking.

I hope you are able to bring your beautiful kitten home!!

You will also want to confirm where your cat may be wandering, and see where might be the best place to put the trap. I used a couple of these trail cams: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081ZYLZSX/?tag=thecatsite
I used those when I had to set up far from my house, and we set up a significant security camera system connected to our wireless locally. If your parents aren't 100% on board with believing your kitten is around and just not approaching the house, you'll probably have to use a trail cam rather than full security system (it should work, especially if baited with food). I did not do extensive research to ensure that the camera I used is the best, and there were some that were a bit cheaper, but it did work, worked at night as well, and had both video & still options.
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for all of these links! I'm definitely going to look into the traps/trail cameras, especially the ones you suggested. We're going to do whatever it takes to get our baby home... I have faith he's out there. And once again, I'm very happy you were able to get your kitty back! The feeling of uncertainty is so difficult to live with.
 
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irrationallypie

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Hey, all...it's been 18 days, and Loki still hasn't come back. It's really hard to stay optimistic, especially since several people we've talked to in the neighborhood told us that it might have been a coyote (themselves having lost a cat that never came back). I'm definitely not going to give up on looking for him, but could anyone share their lost cat stories to give me hope? I know they're largely anecdotal and probably won't help my kitty's situation, but I'm just feeling really hopeless right now. Thanks, guys :'(
 

MackerelTabbyStripes

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I'm so very sorry to hear that. I only have the story of my kitty this summer -- she was outside a total of 7 weeks and 2 days. It was really awful not knowing where she was, whether she was OK or not, if she needed help from an injury or illness. I read recently that human psychology can handle almost any certainty, however bad, more easily than uncertainty. I'm not sure how correct that is but it was much harder to deal with Luna being missing this summer than it was a couple years ago to hold my last elderly cat while she was being euthanized.

I wouldn't just assume he was taken by a coyote, even if a neighbor saw one. While that does happen, it isn't super common. Wild animals tend to specialize in particular prey species, which makes their success rates better. It doesn't usually pay off for a coyote to learn the tricks and habits of cats, when they aren't typically great options and there are far more rabbits, squirrels, etc for them to eat.

There is some more information, including links to some academic papers about cat behaviors or lost animals, at the lost pet research website. This article in particular has a lot of detail: Lost Pet Statistics - Lost Pet Research and Recovery

At 18 days you're at a point where there are still significant increases in number of cats recovered after that date. Chances are best as soon as possible but please don't lose heart -- there is still quite a lot of recoveries that happen after your timeline. And you know a few good things -- your Loki is healthy, young and strong. He knows about the outside, he's been out before, he likely hasn't been transported by accident underneath car like he might in a much more urban environment.
 

fionasmom

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I completely agree that uncertainty is much worse than certainty for a lot of reasons. Because I deal with strays and ferals essentially, I have had numerous situations where a cat has returned after a length of time....looking fine. In fact, what I do for the ferals who come to my property to eat is to write down their names every Monday morning on a calendar. That way I know who is still out there, as there are a lot of coyotes in my area as well. When one is not accounted for, I start to look for them, although in the case of these cats only one would probably ever respond to anything that I would attempt. Ultimately, they return, even if it is much later....like weeks. There is one boy who has been around for years....we know it is him because years ago I had to have his tail amputated when he was TNRed because he had been in a fight and it had developed gangrene....so no chance of mixing him up with all the other guys with tails. He is coming around regularly now, but in the past he has literally been under the radar for months and then returned.
 

Mamanyt1953

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The cat I grew up with, Gray, disappeared just before we moved. We searched, but to no avail. Almost a full year later, and several miles away, we heard a familiar meow outside the door. He was bedraggled, but none the worst for wear. They do come home.
 
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irrationallypie

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Thank you guys so much!! This is exactly what I needed to hear...And I definitely agree that uncertainty is, in many ways, much more difficult to handle than certainty. Loss is always painful, but somehow, these past few weeks of his absence have been harder to deal with than even my other cat's death several years ago.

We did put up neon posters two weeks ago, and people have been calling us whenever they spot a gray tabby kitty, which is comforting. Hopefully, one of these days, a call will reunite us with Loki.

Thank you for the article link! I looked through it, and the statistics definitely reinspired hope in me. (Sent it to my family too.)

And that's a good way of looking at it; Loki IS young and strong and fast, and those will ultimately help him in a troublesome situation. Still, my deepest regret is not making sure he WAS microchipped before anything like this happened. (Though it's not terribly likely, my dad suggests that he could have been seeking warmth in a car that one cold morning and accidentally transported miles away...)

Anyway, thank you all for your stories! I really do appreciate it a lot, and I definitely won't give up hope. It's only been three weeks, after all. Some days are just much harder than others without him.
 

MackerelTabbyStripes

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I'm glad the article and stories helped! I know for me it really helped to come here and post my journey on the forum. Responses are kind and supportive, and helped keep my spirits up even when I was starting to get very depressed and overwhelmed. fionasmom fionasmom in particular was AMAZING -- a regular, calming response to me even on my craziest days, and such a lot of experience with outdoor cats!

I also joined a a Facebook support group for people dealing with grief from pet loss -- mostly it was through deaths, but there were a few other posters with missing animals as well. Overall a lot of the stories are immensely sad and I've not been able to go read many of them recently, but there was a sense of companionship and shared burden when I was feeling at my worst. There was another person who lost her cat about a week or two after mine got out -- very end of July. She successfully got her cat back at the very beginning of November-- over three months later! I'm not sure all of the techniques used, but I know she talked with all her neighbors and went out looking. Near the end, she had glimpsed her cat but wasn't able to approach as the kitty was very wary and skittish by that point. I think she was able to use a regular feeding method at that point to calm her cat down and be able to pick her up.
 

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Psi trailing, especially in cats, is a proven phenomenon. They are not sure how it works, but it might be linked to an internal GPS, and cats have turned up long after they went missing.
 
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