In 2013, my mom’s beloved cat, Tom Kitty, went missing. It was quite the traumatic ordeal. As she left the vet’s office with Tom Kitty, his carrier door unlatched. Tom Kitty bolted across four busy lanes of traffic and into the woods. My heartbroken mother tried desperately to find her little Houdini. A month later, my mother and kitty reconnected in a tearful reunion. Not everyone who has a lost pet experiences a happy ending. I wanted to share a few ways you can find a lost pet and hope it helps someone.
How to Find a Lost Pet
Ensure Your Pet Wears a Collar
Put your pet’s name, phone number, and address on the collar. We found this pooch wandering around our yard back in Minnesota. Thankfully, the owner had all his vet’s contact information on the tag, including the dog’s name and a rabies vaccination code. The vet used that code to identify the dog and contact the owner.
Launch a Search and Rescue Mission
So, this one takes a little coordination. But you and your family or friends start going door-to-door in the neighborhood. Start looking at the last known location. When Tom Kitty came up missing, my mother drove all over the area looking for him. And, one of my friends launched a rescue team and slogged through the swamp where Tom Kitty disappeared. She spotted a cat resembling him. But, when she attempted to capture the bewildered stray, she received an angry scratch requiring medical attention for her efforts. I wish the Guardian Go would have been available then.
Post to Lost Pet Boards on Facebook
Don’t be afraid to utilize social media. We live in the woods, and it’s a haven for lost cats. Plus, I think they can smell a cat-lover a mile away. One time, I posted a photo to our local lost pet Facebook board because someone’s cat was camping out on our back porch. She wasn’t wearing a collar but was plump and well-fed. I posted her photo and, within hours, her owner contacted me to come and get her.
Also, when an amiable and loquacious kitten jumped out of our garbage can, we figured he had to belong to someone. He was friendlier than most feral cats – and felt too comfortable making his way into our house! We went door-to-door, but nobody claimed him. And, I posted his photo to the lost pet board on Facebook. Despite many people sharing the post, however, we were unable to locate his owner. We adopted him and named him Ollie, as in Oliver Twist.
Also, do a web search for “How to find a lost pet.” You will find several hits for websites that specialize in locating lost pets. Some of them charge a fee.
Have your pet microchipped
Even though all of our cats stay indoors, we have them each microchipped. The vet uses a needle to implant a small chip in the back of their neck. While these devices aren’t GPS capable, if your pet gets picked up by animal control, they may scan him for a chip. The chip holds the owner’s contact information so they can contact you easily. Some brands even have a lost pet assistance program, but they charge a fee. But, many pets have reunited with their people – some up to a year later – thanks to microchips. Microchipping is especially crucial if your pet loses his collar during his escapades.
Call the Shelters and Vet Offices
Calling shelters works best in combination with the microchipping, but even if you do not chip your pet, call the vet offices and local animal control shelters. Give them a good description of your pet, fax them a photo, and if possible, visit. When we couldn’t find Ollie’s owner, we took him to the vet for scanning. Had he been chipped, he could have reunited with his owner.
I do recommend calling and visiting the animal control shelters as soon as possible. Many of them have short turn-around times before they euthanize a lost animal. If the cat or dog has health problems, is aging, or otherwise unadoptable, that limit is even shorter. While they are supposed to scan for a chip, people make mistakes. Be proactive and do not wait for a call from them.
When my mom’s cat went missing, I made this poster. I included two photos showing his face and back so people could identify markings. We added the date and last known location. And a reward. This part is optional, but some people need motivation, and I no longer recommend it. I also set my mom up a disposable Google voice number. We forwarded the number to her regular phone, so she didn’t have to post her number all over town – so this number doesn’t work now. Don’t worry! I’m not sacrificing my mom’s privacy for a blog post.
Next, we scattered posters on telephone poles and buildings where he went missing. Some business owners were even kind enough to post a copy. A little over a month passed before we received news that someone found him. He made residence at a local fish market. Smart cat! My favorite program to create flyers and posters is Canva.com. But you can also just use a graphics editor on your computer.
*DISCLAIMER: Be wary of lost pet scams. If someone claims to have your pet but cannot give you essential details, act with caution. For this reason, I no longer recommend publicly offering rewards for pets.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.