Every week as I drive around my neighborhood, I see a new "Lost Cat" sign on a light pole or street sign. Most of these flyers endure wind and rain and are hard to read if you're cruising by. I usually pull over, get out, check out the cat's photo, and write down the listed phone number. I've done this a few times and have been able to help two cats get back home.
Too often, a family feline accidentally escapes from his house, or he lives outside full-time and sometimes wanders too far away for his own good. Or, some never leave their homes in the first place and are discovered hours later in the laundry basket or some other out-of-the-way (inside) location.
Studies provided by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), cited below, suggest luck will be with you when you search for your kitty. One study revealed that "most missing cats are found less than a third of a mile from where they escaped. Indoor cats who get outdoors are typically found less than three houses away."
But according to the HSUS, finding your lost cat is more than using your eyes. Instead, "a systematic approach based on typical lost cat behavior, as well as your cat's personality and habits, will maximize your chances for success."
In other words, getting inside your cat's head will increase your chances of a quick reunion. Post the flyers, tell everyone you know, including mail and package delivery personnel, and consider "to what or where" your cat might be drawn. Perhaps a neighbor feeds a stray in his garage, and your cat decides he wants a snack occasionally. He may make frequent trips to this house, and finding him might take two minutes.
If your cat is microchipped, you're ahead of the game. Remember to contact your veterinarian, other vets in the area, and your local humane society. Most of these places have microchip search capabilities, and getting your pal back could be as simple as a phone call.
Sometimes, whether it's your cat's first time away from home or he's a roaming rogue, you'll need more than local resources. The HSUS has many "Advanced search strategies" worthy of review at the link below.
Petfinder, cited below, says, "To a cat who has wandered out of its comfort zone, anything can happen to scare them further: barking dogs, wildlife, loud traffic noise, teasing school kids, the list is endless." More reason for them to hide themselves. Sadly, I must add another danger for your missing cat: people with ill intent toward animals.
Because of all those reasons, it goes without saying to be sure your cat has a collar and ID tag with your name and up-to-date phone number so that once someone finds him, he can get back to you as quickly as possible.
Quote to remember: "A good cat never goes far." - Anonymous
The Humane Society of the United States
"How to find a lost cat"
"How to find a lost cat"