When looking for a lost cat, the most important thing you can do is to think like one.
Recently, I was raking some leaves in my front yard when I heard a woman calling out, “Dusty! Dusty!” I soon realized it was my neighbor desperately calling for her elderly cat.
I put down my rake and joined Lisa, who was frantically searching up and down the block for her missing cat. The elderly smokey grey fellow apparently made a dash out of the slow-closing back door, and was seen by another neighbor wandering down the street.
Unfortunately, this information was conveyed a few hours after the fact; and as Lisa and I looked up and down the block, counting the number of places where he could be hiding, we realized that we were probably in for a serious challenge.
Lisa went into her kitchen and grabbed a box of dry cat food (knowing that the familiar rattle might be helpful), and we checked out every backyard and garage that we could enter. No Dusty. I returned to Lisa’s house and made a run-through of every room —from my own experience, I have “lost” a cat for a few hours in a sock drawer or a particularly cozy section of a linen closet. Still, no Dusty.
Then we remembered the “cat house” down the street. A kindly woman lives in the sprawling house with a wrap-around porch, and she provides a number of local feral cats the opportunity for a safe place to nap in the sun, and some shelter too out of the rain or snow. They aren’t friendly, but they are certainly healthy looking and well-fed. Thus, likely the perfect place to beckon a disoriented and lost cat.
So I made my way down the street and cut through the parking lot where there were a number of parked cars. I was scanning under the cars, looking for a hiding cat … and there he was. Huddled next to a tire was a scared-looking Dusty. And while the shake of the food interested him slightly, you could tell that his level of disorientation and fear kept him motionless. Luckily, Lisa quickly appeared and urged me to run back home and grab a can of wet food. Apparently, Dusty could indeed be bribed.
I got the can of food, and also grabbed a cat carrier — knowing that a terrified Dusty would probably be hard to carry home without inflicting some claw damage to Lisa’s arms.
Ten minutes later, Dusty was back home, looking none the worse for wear. But we did learn a lesson that day. Your beloved pet is not going to respond to his name when he feels like he is hiding for his life. You should try to look in places where a cat would feel safe and hidden. And most importantly, he may be a lot closer to home than you think, so don’t give up!