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Lost Cat? How Long do Cats Go Missing For?

Lost Cat? 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 if you think you have a lost cat.

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.

Lost Cat?

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.

18 thoughts on “Lost Cat? How Long do Cats Go Missing For?”

  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.

    • Did you cat ever return? It’s been 7 days for mine and we’re all devastated. She’s around the same age as your cat . How did it all go?

    • I’m so sorry my daughter Moira lost her cat fatso I’m going to sit on the street in front of her building w cat food until he comes back

    • I am so sorry you are going through this! I am missing my baby Maggie for 3 days now. She is outside / inside cat. she is a natural and 100% awesome hunter, but i am going so out of my mind! she always comes back in by 11 or 12 at night and i normally see her at least 2x during the day when she comes in to eat and take a nap. It has been thunderstorming here and im so worried! the worst things are going thru my head 🙁 I have also posted on multiple pet finders, FB posts, put out flyers and posted a sign near the road. I just want you to know that i feel your pain and im so sorry.You are not alone in this stressful situation 🙁 Love to you from Ohio

    • It’s a terrible feeling. The investment of love, care, attention, and yes money too; We put so much into them and just like that, they can disappear from our lives.

    • Hello Genay, Greetings from Switzerland,
      My name is Valentin Lopez, I have read your feeligs and worries about your lost Prince,I know exactly what you mean. For I am also missing my Chalupa since the 23 of September, i have put posters everywhere in this village and around the close ones, Chalupa was adopted ( along with her brother Nacho and her little sister Yuka) from the animal rescue shelter. They are only a year and 2 months onld, they are also House Cats ONLY never been outside, I have a pretty big house with a huge Balkon, but one day i was running late for work and i left the Cellar open and she found a window where I think she squeezed out. I actually believe that she might have gotten attack by other cats that belong to the neighbors but they are always outside,cats are territorial, so iI think she had no other choice but to run disoriented.I have spend days and nights looking for my Baby but no sign of her,in Switzerland is very rare that someone would keep an animal which is not theirs, to be more clear; nobody takes something which is not theirs.
      Anyway,I am loosing hope,and since she is so young( BUT NEUTERED) I think she will not find her way back home herself,therefore I will not give up searching for her, because Nacho is really loosing his mind, he misses her all 24 hours. Unless i find a body i will not stop looking, is breaking my heart to see her brother and sister falling to pieces( including myself) as the days go by. I honestly hope that you have found your Prince and live in happines again. With much respect, Valentin Lopez

    • Hi, i came across this googling.

      my cat colby a 1.5 year old orange male tabby (bonded with his sister) left my apartment at 1am in phoenix april 21st. he was returned to me november 27th. Over SEVEN! months has gone by. Was found like maybe 900 feet from my
      Old front door. i never stopped checking all the face book groups and missing pets sites. i was randomly scrolling and i could not BELEIVE it. he lost ALOT of weight but seems
      To be ok (besides his sister and his bonded relationship) do not give up hope SERIOUSLY im still in absolute SHOCK hes back with me AFTER i had moved. Hes still out there. they get lost because they are scared

    • My cat left by my sons bathroom window while I moved house. Notices all over including vets. 7 months later a ph call and woman said I’m feeding you cat every 2-3 night.
      Next suburb and over a tram line. I went calling an on 2nd night I found him. Still here after 11 years. I was overjoyed.

  2. My car was crying to be out late last night and he has not returned home yet what can I do i have rang his vets and tge council posted on social media left food outside and toys with his sent on don’t know what else to do

  3. I. am nagamani from Mysore in India. I took my. cat. Pari. to a vet. doctor on 7th june by car which is 7km away from my home. There it afraid of dogs n ran away. Now iam searching since 2days but i couldn’t find. What I have to do. I love it v much. It’s a calico female cat. Please suggest me what to do.

  4. Our cat has gone missing for 24 hours. It has happened in the past on a few occasions, but she always seems to find her way home. She does not like a collar but has been micro chipped. Not sure about bringing cats indoors at night. I think cats are semi nocturnal so need to go out to hunt/forage. Maybe when I arrive back home she will be sleeping on the bed not realising the stress she has caused.

  5. I just lost my cat Het name is Angle I had her for 8 years she is a indoor cat she ran away the same day I had to put Simba down.I lost 2 cat in. the same day. It’s been almost 2 wk know sign of het.I miss her so. She been missing since July 22 2022.

  6. There is a lady near where I live on the next-door app who is kind of a cat expert and she says that usually they are within three or four houses away from you and they’re basically just scared in the bushes. Mine ran away about five nights ago so I am in the same boat you are I feel your pain. I’ll pray that your cat comes home. These are our babies. Our family. I’m feeding five ferals right now so I gotta close. Good luck C

  7. Frisco is going on three days. I have called out to him and searched the neighborhood. He never stays gone more than an evening. He notices my car when I come home from work. What distinguishes him from other orange and beige cats is his tail. His tail is very fluffy and he knows his name. I hope he is not hurt or have been run over. He has a red bracelet with his name on it. He is very well trained, so I wandering if a big animal have gotten hold to him. This is the third day.

  8. Please pray for my cat, Jolly. He has been missing for 4 days. My family have been looking all over and we even told our neighbors. We are hoping for him to come home and that he’s safe and nothing bad happened to him. 😭😭


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Melinda Connor

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