Lost cats requires immediate attention and knowing something about cat personalities can help you locate your missing cat sooner rather than later–or not at all. More than ten inches of snow blanketed the city of North Wales, Pennsylvania, last winter when Bernadette Palmer’s two-year-old adopted cat, Callie, fell out of a second-story window and disappeared. The missing cat had never ventured out of her loving home and seemed to have vanished without trace.
After a week of frantic searching, Palmer called in lost-cats detective Steve Hagey of the Detect-A-Pet Lost Pet Services in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Apart from photographs, Palmer also filled him in on the lost cat’s cautious temperament, pointing out that she had xenophobic tendencies, or an abnormal fear of foreign things–even the sound of rustling paper scared her.
Hagey considered what he knew about cat personalities, and, then, armed with motion-activated surveillance cameras and a bionic ear to amplify sounds thousands of feet away, he spent a total of 34 nights searching for the missing cat in the freezing cold.
His persistence paid off. Nearly four weeks into the search, a neighbor claimed to have seen the missing cat. Hagey followed the lead and discovered a feral feeding station where he sighted Callie and set a humane trap for her. Another five days passed before he managed to confine the starving, filthy, flea-invested pet and return her safely to an overjoyed Palmer. By using what he understood about cat personalities, Hagey was able to find Callie.
Cats are very territorial creatures. In unfamiliar territory, lost cats (particularly cautious cats like Callie) usually look for the first place that offers concealment and protection. They instinctively and silently hide to protect themselves from predators. How long they remain in that hiding place and what they do when they emerge depends entirely upon their temperament. If you have a missing cat, don’t wait to see if it returns. Start searching immediately.
“If your pet has easy access to the outdoors and suddenly vanishes, ask yourself, ‘What’s happened?'” says pet detective Kat Albrecht, founder of Missing Pet Partnership, and author of The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of a Canine Cop Turned Pet Detective (Bloomsbury USA, 2004). “Cats have been known to curl up in an open car that subsequently drives away, or they can be chased from their home environment by a dog. When an indoors-only cat escapes out of the safety of home, the question is ‘Where is she hiding?'”
According to Albrecht, all cats fall into one of four types of cat personalities:
How to Catch Lost Cats
In many instances, the best way of capturing a missing cat is with a humane baited trap. Cats have a very keen sense of smell. If you use a baited trap (which you can get at a feed store or hardware store), line it with towels that have a familiar “home smell” to entice her to go inside. You can even place some of her kitty litter inside as well.
When you make “lost” posters, don’t forget to include your cat’s personality traits, likes and dislikes, and include a telephone number where you can be reached at all times.
Ask your local animal shelter for help with traps or consider a pet detective with a search dog that is trained to detect cats to help retrieve your pet.
Building Winter Cat Shelters
Bottle Feeding Orphaned Kittens
TNR Certification Workshop
Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption