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Has your beloved family pet gone missing?
No one wants to lose a beloved pet. If it happens, however, there are a few things you can do that will greatly increase your chance of finding your lost love. Here’s what worked for me when Momo went missing a few summers ago for eight–EIGHT!!–long days:
I put up TONS of fliers. I printed 50 at a time and changed the color with an updated MISSING AS OF date so people knew MOMO was still missing. You can also put STILL MISSING stickers on the fliers. The key is to let people know the fliers are fresh and current. Plus they get rained on, pulled down and blown off by wind, so replenishing is key.
TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS
I talked to EVERYONE and walked the streets frequently asking if anyone had seen my boy. People pretty much took pity on me because I became such a frequent sight. I truly believe it helped keep MOMO and my plight fresh in people’s minds. I found neighbors to be super helpful and concerned and the more I engaged them I felt less alone and had more people looking out for Momo. Your neighbors are your eyes and ears when you cannot be there.
I know it sounds gross , but if you have any of kitty’s used litter put it out by your front door or apt or wherever it is you would like the cat to return to. Cats can recognize the odor of their own used litter from far away. Even if you’ve cleaned the litter put the box out as their noses are far more sensitive than ours.
WHEN TO LOOK
Early mornings are best as the streets are quieter and your cat may be less afraid and more willing to roam at this time. Twilight is good as well–be sure to have a flashlight with you to peek under porches and bushes–it will catch your cat’s eyes glinting which helps a lot. Sweep your flashlight up into the trees if you suspect kitty might be a climber.
WHERE TO LOOK
Check crawl spaces, garages, backyards, under front and back porches and in your neighbors garbage cans! Cats can get into spaces and get closed in and/or get scared and not know how to get out. Ask for permission before going into anyone’s yard or peering around their property. Make friends with everyone you see and ask them to keep an eye out. Look under bushes. Search in ever-widening circles.
If someone offers to let you look in their backyard or basement (and you should ask–many a cat has been lost or stuck in basements or even garbage cans nearby) make sure someone else knows where you are. Make a quick phone call to report where you are headed in a nonchalant way–say “Hey , just wanted to call, am heading into the basement at 100 Main st, will call to report when I’m done” before you go anywhere unattended or unknown.
WHAT TO BRING
Assemble a “cat finding” kit. Put a flashlight (for looking under porches and bushes),cans of food and treats into your cat’s carrier to bring with you when you look. You can also buy an inexpensive leash that loops easily around your kitty’s neck for when you find him/her.
OFFER A REWARD
I offered a reward and held back one small visual detail on the posters which helped when determining if the sightings were real or not (not that it mattered, I checked out most of them). In the end I was very happy to fork over my money to the awesome person who saw Momo and called me.
DON’T GIVE UP
Cats can stay away for days or weeks. I looked every day, spoke to everyone, asked neighbors if I could go into their yards, put up tons of flyers and generally was such a pitiful sight that I think people took pity on me and helped look. I received tons of tips and followed through on them all–though some were def pranks from local schoolkids–and in the end it only took one correct sighting to lead me to Momo. So stay the course, it will pay off even if it sometimes feels hopeless.
Indoor only cats often hide close to where they went missing or where they live. They can hide in plain sight, and can take days to return or be found. Outdoor cats can roam more widely.
Your missing cat wants to be found and just needs some help getting home. Put up tons of fliers in urban areas with a color photo and the day your pet went missing and update them often as people tear them down and become apathetic. New colors and new photos get people’s attention. In rural areas put up LARGE posters at major intersections with a big photo and very clearly posted contact info.
The latest newsletter from The NYC Feral Cat Initiative is loaded with info and tips for feral caretakers everywhere, plus workshops for those in the tri-state area.
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