Losing a Dog or Cat

  • Call your local animal control officer (and ACOs in nearby towns/cities)- in Massachusetts, many ACOs work for the police department, but are a separate office in the department.
  • Call local police (and police in nearby towns).
  • Call friends for help-someone could hang posters and someone could make phone calls while you are out searching.
  • Call neighbors to learn whether they have seen your animal.
  • Make reward poster.
  • Hang in plastic sleeves (need sleeves, staple gun, push pins and staples).
  • Tape poster to search cars.
  • Get email, fax, phone, address to send out reward posters to veterinarians, animal shelters, ACOs, pet supply stores, groomers, trainers.
  • Organize a search party research and print out a topographical map of the search site for searchers.
  • Knock on doors and leave letters for neighbors outlining where people can look on their own property.
  • Register lost pet on websites (A huge job recruit friends to help).
  • Set up live traps.
  • Check lost and found columns in newspapers.
  • Take out ads in body of newspapers (and in classified section).
  • Have media list available-contact newspapers, TV, radio stations - there might be a story in it for them, especially if it is a slow news day.

Losing a Cat


  • Indoor cats are usually hidden nearby, in protective mode, in their "new territory."
  • Even knowing his person's voice he/she will not respond, won't come out of hiding and will be unwilling his/her new territory
  • Hiding nearby within the radius of his home of just a few houses, is typical behavior
  • Hiding under a porch, car, or heavy brush is usually the case
  • It's an instinct to go into protective mode; ignoring your presence and voice.
  • While his/her outdoor cat counterparts could become trapped and unable to return home, it would be unlikely for this to happen to him/her. Because his surroundings are so unfamiliar and scary, he/she probably won't exhibit curious cat behavior and get into trouble.
  • Searching every possible hiding place thoroughly is essential-because he/she won't come running like a dog might.
  • Since he/she will hide and remain still, he/she is less likely to be killed by a car; outdoor cats have more of a chance of this happening, as they are more comfortable outdoors and will roam.

Door to Door


If after all of this, your cat remains lost, go door to door with these tips:
  • With pad and pen, write down who you spoke to, also leaving your name and number for the neighbors.
  • Put up posters around the neighborhood. Leave posters at vet clinics, local shelters (even those out of your area), and all over the neighborhood. When putting up your posters don't forget to check the "found cat" posters.
  • Ask neighbors to look and listen for a cat in their area, while also checking their garage or other buildings, look in their trees, check their basements.
  • And ask them to call your cat's name and listen carefully for signs of distress.
  • Then ask permission to enter their property to look for yourself (the cat might be too frightened to respond to a stranger).
  • Check with neighbors about noticing a new cat in the area.
  • Don't rule out neighbor malice. Visit shelters, and ask neighbors if they are aware of any cat trapping in the neighborhood.
  • Ask neighborhood kids if they have seen anything. Kids can be a great source of neighborhood goings-on.
  • Likewise with your postal carrier. Give him/her a flyer or a photo with the cat's name and your name/phone on the back.
  • Vets occasionally treat cats identified as "strays." Ask for a description; vets will stabilize injured cats before they are taken into the animal shelter.
  • Place ads. Offer a reward (beware of dishonest reward-seekers).
  • Check Animal Control frequently, look in their kennels and leave a photo of your cat at the front desk.
  • Don't give up. Cats can last days without food or water. They also can hide very well, remember, and may not be rescued by animal control or a citizen for many weeks after their initial disappearance.