Cats are highly intelligent, and they have their own territories, but they can get out of sight or vicinity, only for you to realize that it didn’t climb to its chill spot at 7:30 and didn’t come for dinner either. That’s when it hits you that your cat might be lost. Just like dogs, cats have unique behaviors in a new territory. Here we will go through the various factors that influence a cat’s behavior. Take them into consideration when trying to find your lost cat.
The indoor-only cat stays inside the home of the owner. Whenever an indoor-only cat leaves for the outdoors, it feels displaced, and in territory it has never seen its entire life. In case an indoor-only cat loses its way back to the house, it would find a place offering the concealment and protection it is used to.
Their instincts will tell the cat to hide in silence to avoid attracting predators. How long they’ll remain in hiding and what they’ll do while inside there depends on their temperament. When an indoor-only cat escapes to the outdoors, the appropriate question to ask when trying to find it is, “Where is the cat hiding?”
Cats are territorial, meaning they can go far away and come back home. When an outdoor-access cat fails to show up at home, it means something may have happened and interrupted its normal program. The disappearance may be as a result of injury, trap, or death within its territory. It could also have been transported to another area, either by someone who stole it or climbing into an open van parked on the side of the road.
Also, the cat may have been chased into unfamiliar territory by a dog and ended up in a completely new place. These kinds of scenarios cause panic, and the cat hides in silence. The best question to ask when an outdoor-access cat gets lost is, “What happened to the cat?
Temperaments and How they Influence Distance Traveled
Temperaments determine actions. How a cat behaves within its usual territory affects how it behaves when lost and in an unfamiliar one. Apart from posting flyers and posters and also checking the local shelters, cat owners should know their cat’s behavior and develop a search strategy from it. Here are the guidelines to follow:
1.) Cautious Cat
These cats act normally but are shy on some occasions. For instance, they like playing with people, but when a stranger shows at your door, they dash and hide. They hide at the corner and eventually come out after a short while. When lost or displaced, they are likely to run and hide in fear when they sense movement. If not scared off from their hiding ground, they will gradually come back home or meow and call the owner when they come looking for them.
This behavior is observed within the first two days after the cat gets used to you and its surroundings. It may also show after seven to ten days later, after their thirst or hanger reaches a climax, and they want to make an alarm. A good strategy would be to search your neighbors’ yards and set baited humane traps.
2.) Curious/Clown Cat
These cats walk towards trouble, run to the door to welcome strangers, and are generally not afraid of anything. When displaced, the cats hide for a short while but are likely to travel. The strategy for recovery should be to place posters in your area within a radius of five blocks.
Also, since they are friendly, they might have visited your neighbors. Check door-to-door in your neighborhood and comb any possible hiding places, yards of houses, and other locations near the escape point. The cat may not show up after you call!
3.) Care-less Cat
These cats don’t care much about your visitors. When a stranger visits, they just sit back and watch as if they mind their own business. When they find themselves in unfamiliar territory, they will likely hide and eventually come out and find their way back home, and meow at your doorstep. They can also decide to travel.
The best strategy is checking the hiding places nearby, going from door-to-door asking your neighbors whether they saw your cat, and searching their yards. If you don’t find your beloved cat, set a baited humane trap.
4.) Catatonic/Xenophobic Cat
Xenophobic cat fears or hates strange or foreign things, including people. They are afraid of every unfamiliar or new situation. The fearful behavior defines their character, and its usually caused by genetics or the cat's experience with nature while growing up, and how it was nurtured. These cats will run and hide when a stranger comes to your place, and they might leave thinking you don’t own a cat because she will only come out after the stranger leaves.
They don’t like being held and petted, and they get bothered by changes in their environment. When displaced, these cats bold and crawl into hiding and remain silent. They stay in the same hiding place and turn catatonic due to fear. If someone sees this type of cat, they’ll assume they are untamed or “feral” due to their hostile nature. To recover this cat, you have to set baited human traps. A xenophobic cat may be absorbed into the feral cat population if you don’t find it on time.
Owner Behaviors that Create Issues
The way cat owners behave affects the chances of finding their lost cats. Most cat owners develop “tunnel vision,” which makes them focus on wrong theories and fail to find their lost pets. They quickly give up, feel helpless, and alone after being discouraged by others who claim “it was just a cat. "You can just adopt another one from the shelters,” and “you’ll never find your cat.” One of the biggest mistakes cat owners make when searching for their cats is focusing on posting flyers and checking in cages at the local shelter.
Though these techniques should not be considered, the primary formula of finding your lost cat is asking for permission from your neighbors to enter their yards and do a physical search thoroughly, and also to set baited human traps if necessary. Asking your neighbor to be on the lookout is not enough. You can’t expect them to waste their “precious” Netflix time crawling around their houses on their bellies, searching for a cat they don’t care about!
Rescuer Behaviors that Create Issues
One of the most common behaviors with rescuers is meeting a cat exhibiting a xenophobic temperament and, based on their fearful behavior, assume that the cat is untamed and feral. Even though untamed cats that are used to living without humans will spit, hiss, lunge, and urinate when trapped, the “wild animal” behavior is also common in xenophobic cats! This is evident because owners that have xenophobic cats have verified that their cats behaved this way after they were humane trapped.
That behavior is a reflection of a fearful temperament and not because it has never been tamed. Shelter and animal control workers should scan every feral cat for microchips to determine whether the feral is a xenophobic pet belonging to someone who gave up looking for it, and it has been missing for weeks or months before ending up at the shelter.
Digital Wildlife Cameras
A newer technique that can help find your cat. It’s going to take your time and cost you a little, but it's worth investing if you have a personal relationship with your cat. The technique involves using digital wildlife cameras and feeding stations, especially if the area has many apartments, thousands of cats, raccoons, and its impossible to set up a humane trap. The key is putting food at an open space and setting up the camera facing that area.
Some cats manage to find their way back home, while some may take a lot of searching to find. Pets with Lost Paw NFC tags are easy to recover. All it takes is a smartphone that the rescuer can use to scan the tag and automatically send a text message to the owner. Finding your lost pet never got any easier!