A year and three months ago, I found a little scrawny kitten in the middle of a field in Tarlac City. He was approximately a week old, flea-ridden, and had a bad eye infection. Being the self-professed crazy cat lady that I am, I took him home, brought him to the veterinarian for treatment, and named him Maui. Now, he likes to take naps on top of our kitchen counter, watch random birds fly by the window, and meow incessantly to demand for food.
Maui is an indoor cat, though at times he sneaks out whenever the chance presents itself, being the curious cat that he is. It doesn’t take long for any of us at home to notice the lack of a usual feline presence—it gets too quiet.
This is perhaps every pet owner’s worst fear: knowing that your little buddy is nowhere to be found. Should you ever find yourself in this difficult situation, the first and foremost thing to do is to stay calm. Panic can lead to brash, knee-jerk reactions that could make a solveable issue take a turn for the worse. Secondly, try to determine if your pet has actually managed to get out of your home or if he/she is only hiding. Once you’ve determined which is which, you can go through the steps below to start your search.
If your pet may be hiding inside your home…
- Ask your family members. They may have seen your pet, know his/her current whereabouts or even have him/her.
- Try calling out his/her name as loud as you can, in the same tone as you would when it’s feeding time. Shaking a bag of treats or a food container as you call out for your pet may be able to lure him/her out of hiding.
- Searchyour home. Look for nooks and crannies large enough for your pet to fit in. Sometimes pets can get stuck in between shelves or perhaps are just taking a quick snooze under the couch.
If your pet is nowhere to be found in your home…
- Expand your circle and ask neighbors if they have seen your pet. Have the clearest and most recent picture of him/her on hand for easy identification.
- Create a notice to be posted in your neighborhood and in social media. The latter can have a wider audience reach, especially if you request your friends to spread awareness. Make sure to include a contact number and, if it is readily available, a promise of a reward for anyone who can find your pet and return him/her to you in the notice.
- Visit and notify animal shelters, pounds, and veterinarian’s clinics. Regularly ask for updates following your notification.
- Go around your neighborhood and call out for your pet. Pay attention to any response and trace the source carefully.
More often than not, one or a combination of the steps mentioned above should be able to help you locate your missing pet. Involve your family and friends in the search and be open to suggestions and possible leads. Most of all, stay determined.
Safe and sound at home
It is possible to prevent your pet from going missing or sneaking out of your home. If he/she is constantly showing signs of wanting to be let out (such as pawing at the door and such), try to find out what is causing this. Is your pet understimulated? Is he/she spayed or neutered? Have you recently introduced a new pet? Is he/she ill? A visit to the veterinarian might prove to be useful to determine the reason for erratic actions or changes in your pet’s behavior and act on it appropriately.
I once had the misfortune of losing Maui one morning during a thunderstorm. After a long search, which consisted of me yelling his name and stopping passersby to ask if they have seen a one-eyed tabby cat, he was eventually found in a neighbor’s garage, drenched and meowing hysterically. He spent the rest of the day after his rescue curled up under the covers in my room. He has since recovered from this ordeal and is now back on his routine of taking frequent naps on the kitchen counter. I had then become more mindful of my cat’s comings and goings, making doubly sure that his needs are met. After all, our pets rely on us for their comfort and security.