How Long do Cats Go Missing For?

Cats like to wander, so there is a good chance yours goes missing now and then. In our experience, it is not unusual for a cat to be MIA for 24 hours at a time. Some cats even disappear for two to three days at a time. But, no matter how often they do it, or how street-smart they are, it can still be a worrying time for you.

Of course, if you are new to owning a cat, the idea of your precious bundle being out of your sight for a few minutes can be distressing, let alone an entire day. Carry on reading to find about everything your feline, including:

  • How long do cats go missing for?
  • Why do they go missing?
  • What can be done to find a lost cat?
  • How to prevent cats from getting lost

How Long Do Cats Go Missing For?

It isn’t uncommon for cats to go missing for 24 hours, especially if they like spending a lot of time outdoors. In some cases, cats can even stay away from home for up to 10 days at a time. We also know of cats that leave home while their humans are away on holiday, returning soon after the family arrives back. And in some instances, cats that have been missing for years have eventually been reunited with their owners.

Why Do Cats Go Missing?

Understanding why they go missing could help you prevent it from happening to your cat. Let’s take a look at the three most common reasons cats go missing.

1. Unneutered cats can get lost while looking for a mate

One of the most common reasons unneutered male cats leave their home is to find a mate. Some cats might only have to wander around the neighbourhood before they pick up the scent of a female cat in heat, while others will travel for miles and miles.

Unfortunately, if the object of a cat’s desires is locked inside a house, the male will simply wait it out until an opportunity presents itself. This means your cat could be gone for a day or two, or even as long as a week. And it isn’t just male cats that go missing in pursuit of a mate. Unspayed females, although they won’t travel as far, will also go looking for a mate when they are in heat.

One of the most effective ways to stop this from happening is to have your cat neutered or spayed. Not only will this simple procedure stop your cat wandering off in search of love, but it will also help prevent unwanted litters.

2. Cats go missing when their environments change

Cats are sensitive to change in their environment and are known to go missing when a new baby or pet makes an unexpected appearance. To stop your kitty feeling unloved or neglected, it is a good idea to prepare it for upcoming changes where possible.

Make sure your cat is always well looked after with access to fresh water, tasty food and a clean litter box. And if you are unable to provide it with the attention it is used to, ensure there is plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Not even indoor cats are immune to going missing if they no longer feel like they are the cat’s whiskers.

3. Cats go missing when they are scared

While a cat’s lightning fast reflexes often get it out of dangerous situations, they can also get it into them. When your cat is suddenly startled, it will leap into the air and run away as fast as it can. Unfortunately in its attempt to get away from whatever startled it, your cat can become disoriented.

Older cats will usually find their way home, even after a day or two, but kittens or less streetwise cats could get lost. If you are worried about your cat going missing, you should consider getting a cat GPS tracker. These nifty little gadgets will give you peace of mind and keep track of your cat when he is outdoors.

What To Do When Your Cat Goes Missing

It is not unusual for cats to go missing for a few hours a day, especially if they enjoy being outside. But if you notice your cat is gone longer than normal, there are a few things you can do to ensure its safe return.

Do a thorough search

Before you panic, it is best to do a thorough search around your house, your garden and your cat’s favourite hiding spots. Be sure to check inside garages, sheds, as well as your neighbours’ properties. And don’t forget bins, gutters, under hedges, and compost bins. Cats are notorious for finding the best places to hide, so grab a torch (if it is dark), some tasty treats and start thinking like a cat.

Try and remember your cat’s past behaviour. Did it go missing round about the same time last year? The warmer weather during spring and summer often has cats wandering off for longer stretches at a time. Or it could be that your kitten is feeling confident to travel a little further than usual.

Let other people know

Once you have searched high, low, and anywhere in between and your cat is still missing, it is time to let other people and organisations know. Post a recent photograph on the different social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Take advantage of pages that have been set up specifically to help find missing cats, such as Cat Aware and Missing Pets GB. Remember to include a full description with their age, name and last known whereabouts, as well as any distinguishable features that will make it easier to identify your cat.

You can also further your search by creating a missing pet flyer and check with local shelters, your vet, and community forums. If your cat has been missing for a few days, it is worth asking boarding kennels in your area. There are also some great lost and found websites that have reunited lost cats with their owners.

Leave food and water outside your door

It is a good idea to leave some food, water, your cat’s favourite treats and even its toy outside overnight. A scared cat will often make its way back home after dark when there are fewer people and less traffic around. If you have a baby monitor, you could place this near the bowl of food to pick up meowing sounds.

Check old addresses

It is not uncommon for cats to go missing in search of their old home, so if you have recently moved, ask your previous neighbours to keep an eye out for your cat. And if you have rehomed or adopted a cat, check with those owners too. It isn’t uncommon for cats to travel many miles to their old address.

What You Can Do To Keep Your Cat From Getting Lost

There really is nothing more distressing than when your cat goes missing or is lost. And even if you think it will never happen to your kitty, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure yours doesn’t end up on a lost or found poster.

Microchip your cat

Although it is not a legal prerequisite in the UK to microchip your cat, we suggest you do it as soon as possible. June is National Microchip Month, so it is the perfect time to get it done. And remember if any of your contact details have changed, you need to update these with your microchip database.

Use a collar with a name tag

Because not everyone knows about microchips, a collar with your cat’s name and your contact details is essential. Not only does a collar help identify your pet, but it also stops people thinking it is a stray. Make sure your contact details are on the tag, as well as on the inside of the collar.

Make sure your cat is neutered or spayed

As we have mentioned before, unneutered cats will travel long distances if they pick up the scent of a female in heat. To prevent this from happening, you must have your cat neutered (or spayed) as soon as possible. Not only will this stop it roaming the streets, but it will also prevent unwanted litters.

Provide your cat with plenty of stimulation

Cats are intelligent creatures and need plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Make sure you spend quality time with your kitty every day and set up activity areas in your home. Scratching posts, hammocks and lots of toys will stop your cat wandering off in search of excitement. Also, establish a set routine for mealtimes so that your cat doesn’t feel the need to hunt for dinner.

Don’t leave your cat out overnight

Even the most street smart cats need to feel secure when it gets dark. Make sure you bring your cat in if you are away for the day and at night. Knowing your cat is safely indoors will give you peace of mind, and keep your cat safe. This is especially important during heavy rainstorms or annual celebrations such as Guy Fawkes when your cat can become disoriented.

Let us know if you found this article helpful? Perhaps your cat has gone missing before, and there was a happy ending to the ‘tale’?  We would love to hear about it, so feel free to share in the comments below.


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27 Responses

  1. Hello my name is Genay Gonce. My cat prince is a Siamese and neutered male cat he is 10 months old but a pretty big cat. He ran away for the first time April 21 around three or four in the morning. I’ve done everything that I can do to bring him back home . I made posters , searching for him in early morning and late night ,calling for him, putting food out for him , and Putting my clothes with my scent outside. I do not know what else I can do he is an indoor only cat as well. I feel so very hopeless at this point I’ve been making calls to shelters nonstop and still nothing . My biggest fear is that someone has them because he is such a gorgeous cat!
    I even put out posters with reward on it in case someone does haven him . What else can I do ? The days are getting longer and my other cat that I have at home she is now acting very distant and she barely wants to eat and she’s also meowing so sadly late at night as if she is stressed because she misses Prince.

  2. Hi, even my cat has been disappeared for 2 days, iam so sad, but after reading these google searchs I found its usual for cats to roam on summer times. My cat is a 8 month old cat, I hope and I believe he will be back!! Did your cat come back??

  3. Our cat was missing for 40 days. She was scared away by a dog and we were in a new house. Then she came home. We found her wondering the neighborhood.

  4. My cat has been missing24 hours now she is an indoor only and Siamese seal point with pink collar she’s normally a very shy and easily scared off cat, I think it wouldn’t be easy to crab her, she’s not neutered or chipped she is only 2 years old

    1. My half Siamese cat missing for 3 days. 14 year old cat cat and I had her since she was a kitten.

  5. My cat is missing for 8 days now and I even can’t breath . I am so much worried . We have spent nearly 1 year and 6 months together and now I can’t even imagine to live with out him .

  6. My female cat is 2 years old. She’s been spayed. She became an outdoor/indoor cat last year when we moved. She is a very happy cat. Very sociable. She’s gone out roaming around since Friday night. We have 125 acres and lots of wildlife around. I’ve seen her pick up a rabbit and snap it’s neck, so I’m not concerned about her starving. We also have a pond, so I know she’s got plenty of water. She’s just usually back the very next morning she leaves for the night.

  7. My can’t went missing on July 9th and I’m so worried. She’s a spayed 3 year old
    Indoor outdoor cat and loves being outside but always comes home. If you guys find your cat can you please comment it here too. It will bring me hope if you guys find yours.

  8. My Siamese missing for 4 days she is spayed microchipped she is 12.5 years. I had her since she was a kitten.Im so worried

  9. Hi, hope your cat is fine. Here is my story.
    I have relocated my house and saw pretty grown stray cats wondering in our neighbourhood. Due to covid lockdowns, we found that they have pretty challage to find foods. So we keep some to them and they all eat together. One of them started jumping to our house and became friend with us. It comes daily morning and beg for food. Slowly like around few weeks it started to stay in our house like its his born house. Any way we treated him well and he stayed like 5 months with us everyday. I always send him out at nights after dinner and he always come back at mornings to greet us.
    Once we found that he becoming lazy like wats to sleep in our house. And i thought he wonder all night with his mates and only comes to our house for eat and sleep to rest.
    One day he gone missing for 2 days. I could find him near our area. It was summer and he came after 2 days. I convinced my self as he went because of heat. After that incident he refused to go out at nights. Any way we forced him out.
    After few days, again he lost for 4 days. I really started to think of him since i see him every morning near my bed after my mom opened the door and hear him meowing.
    And he was back after 4 days. Morning i saw him front of our house with a bit mark in face and swollen throar. Also he was weak and couldnt even stand, ants all over body. After i saw him my heart was broke and i nearly cried. I aided and groomed him first and gave him milk and water he drank lot. Tried to tend his would but he dint let me touch it. Zero interest in food. ALSO NOTICED THAT HIS SKIN EAR GUMS AND EYES TURED YELLOW. Soon i took him to vet. And he tend his wound and found that he has internal chronic illness that damaged his liver. And told me to give hope in him. I cant efford to expense treatment bbut still we did some treatment to feel him better. Then 2 days past still weak as him and begin to eat small amount. I have to now look after him and nurse him without sleeping. Hope he will be fine or die with our love.

    So my advice is,
    If u r a cat lover notice all behaviours of them. They cant speak human language. Even if u find small behaviour change, it could be always sign of something. Cats are pretty good in hiding illness and their sad. If u worry to loose your pet, then u better use a gps tracker on it also check always if it works. And do not hesitate to find him. Your pet can be in danger. Hope you all understand.
    Man i wont get any pets in my life ever again, its hurts to see them suffering or to loose them. Planning on helping poor animal without attaching with them too much. Dont no why god made this planet. But this planet survived long and we have to be get used to it……

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. You are such a kind loving pet owner. My little one has been gone for 4 days and I’m so worried. She has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart muscle, which is serious.

      I do, though, know about a cat found in the backroom of Goodwill, setting off the alarms at night. It was caught and taken to a vet. The cat was, thankfully, microchipped, so they located the family. This is the amazing part. They were so excited. The cat had been missing for 2 YEARS!!!

  10. My cat disappeared just after days on heat , four weeks back and never returned . Searched the neighbourhood everyday. Now still hoping for her to come back. Sad to think she might have been pregnant by now. 😥

    1. If she is pragnet, then she will always return to her home bcoz to get food easily without hunting so she gets less stress on focusing foods.
      If your cat is good in outdoor life, then she might have been returned by now.
      Your cat may be lost her way to home or may be some other incident might happened. Hope she will be alright.

  11. Hi my cat is missing now for more than a month now. Lost on July 1st and didn’t come home yet. His twin brother is sad at home. How many chances that she will be back ever?

  12. I just want to give some of you hope. My spayed female tuxedo cat disappeared for 6 days. I was scared to death. Looked for her and called to her. Then she came home.
    My cousin lives in LA, her cat was missing for 6 yrs then came home. Someone must have taken it in and when it got away, it came back.

    1. I am so happy you both got your cats home I hope my boy comes home I can’t sleep I all ways wake up thinking he at my front door

    2. I love this, I am in LA too and I have a curious cat who is neutered make but is also sociable with other cats and does not get into fights but there are a couple of cat lovers in my block which have quite a few strays and not sure if my one has decided (or coaxed) to stay. Unfortunately the couple of houses do look like ‘crazy car lady likes here’…I hope my 3.5 yr old cat comes back soon. It has now been 5 days.

  13. My cat is missing for 3 days now. She is not really an indoor cat but she usually doesn’t go missing for this long. We suspect that she is pregnant because her titties are a bit swollen and she got chubbier. We are really worried. We tried searching for her around the neighborhood but still no sign of her. She is my first pet cat.

  14. My 5 year old neutered female indoor cat got out friday the 13th of August this year. I feared for her safety and looked all over for her calling her name. Told neighbors and humane society about my loss. Gave my number. Low and behold she returned on patio 18 days later!! She lost weight and hungry feed her gave water. She inside now and has used litter and seems ok? I checked her over good. She real clingy with me now? Made a vet appt. 4 a check up. Hope this helps someone.

    1. Yes it does and thank you! So I assume your cat may have been scared off? Did you do anything more over the 18 days that made her return or did she just return anyway?

  15. Hi everyone my cat gone missing it will be 3 weeks on Thursday he all ways come home I can’t sleep we all miss him I hurt want to know if everyone has got there missing cats home

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