Door dashing, open windows, or window wriggling are common ways for a cat to get out.  An indoor-outdoor cat may have gone further than its regular stomping ground and can’t find its way back.


First, look everywhere in your house. Check areas where you think the cat couldn’t possibly be, like inside cupboards, under mattresses, and behind dressers

Look around your house, including small spaces.  In bushes. Under cars. In sheds. Under decks.  They may have entered a shed or garage and then found themselves locked in.

Cats usually will hide in silence and typically stay close to home.

Check and check again.  Cats may change their hiding spots over time

Vary the time you search.  Cats tend to be more active late at night and early in the morning when it’s quiet.

If you find your cat, see if it will come to you.  The cat may not come to you because when they are outside, they are terrified of their new surroundings.

A hiding cat may not meow – a frightened cat will hide in silence.  Meowing would give up their location to a predator.


Let your neighbors know and ask if you can look around their property.  Make sure to look inside garages or any other structures where a cat could hide (get trapped)

Many times, lost cats are found hidden somewhere close by and just houses from their home.

Leave them your contact information.


DO NOT put out their litter box.  Pheromones from a litter box can backfire by attracting territorial cats, who then keep the missing cat from returning home.  Urine/feces scent could attract aggressive cats into the yard where a missing cat could be hiding. Cats are territorial and when an indoor-only cat escapes outdoors, that cat is often hiding within the territory of another (outside) neighborhood cat. Dirty cat litter can attract community “tom” cats (intact male cats) or other territorial neighborhood cats and that scent could predispose them to want to defend their territory, drawing them into the area where a displaced cat is hiding in silence.

Research has shown that there is a higher chance of recovering a lost cat by conducting an aggressive, physical search for the lost cat.

Consider setting out a humane trap with food in spots where you can check them frequently.  Check a local shelter to see if they have traps to loan or rent.  Use your garage or house as a *trap* by leaving doors open.


Create a flyer with a picture of the cat, a description, and your contact information.  If allowed, post in your immediate neighborhood, bring it to the local vets, and post it on Social Media


Check lost pet groups on social media.


Call or visit local animal shelters.   Check the animal shelters regularly.


Keep looking.  Never give up.  Lost cats have been found after weeks of being gone.

Don’t stop searching for a lost cat too soon.  Go over the same ground multiple times and multiple times a day.


Secure your home.  Guard all doors and don’t leave them open to let people in or out.  If a door must be held open, keep your cat in a separate room with food, water, and a litter box.

Windows should only be open from the top down and the bottom up – a cat can wiggle out a window that is only a few inches open.

If work is being done in the home, make sure the cat is secured in a room, or take the cat to a family member or friend’s home.

Transition an indoor-outdoor cat to indoor only.  Outdoor enrichment can still be provided with an enclosed cat patio or by taking the cat for walks outside.

Microchip your cat, even if your cat stays indoors.  Keep chip information up to date.