It's every cat parent's worst nightmare - and it's a situation that many of us here at The Cat Butler have found ourselves in at one time or another.
Your cat hasn't come home.
You try to stay calm, but panic - inevitably - sets in. What do you do?
Easier said than done, we know, but most 'missing' cats arrive home within a few hours - and they probably wonder what on earth we humans have been making such a big fuss about!
So, the first thing you should do is stay calm. Give it a few hours before you do anything else.
If they still haven't returned, search your house and garden. Check all the rooms in your house, including any lofts, cellars and garages. Look in the kitchen cupboards, behind the curtains, underneath the sofa etc.
Still no sign? Take a peek in the washing machine, the tumble dryer, the dishwasher - anywhere that they might have snuck into when you weren't looking.
Next, it's into the garden. Look in the hedges, the shed, the compost bin, the greenhouse. Be sure you check your car, too - in it, under the bonnet, in the wheel arches.
Talk to your neighbours, and ask them to check their homes and gardens too. Some might let you check yourself - and this is a great idea if you can.
Visit houses up and down your road, speak to the people who live opposite you, and also the ones behind.
Don't forget to take a photo with you - and leave your contact details with everybody you speak to.
If your cat is microchipped, be sure to contact Petlog (link to www.petlog.org.uk) on 01296 336 579 so that they can flag your cat as missing and check for any 'found pets' reports in your area.
Call around the local veterinary surgeries and rescue centres, and ask if any cats have been brought in. Most will check Petlog as soon as an animal is brought in - but it's always worth calling them too, just in case.
A difficult one, we know, but you should also call your local council's Environmental Health Department. If a cat matching your pet's description has been fatally injured on the roads, these are the people who will know about it. While they won't usually have the facility to check for microchips (and, therefore, contact the owners), they will at least be able to tell you if there have been any reports that could suggest your cat has been hit.
Register your pet's details on the lost and found pet registers - you'll find a handy list on the CatChat website.
As well as posting on local Facebook groups, get some posters printed and display them around your area. Some pet insurance policies will cover the cost of producing these posters; some will even cover a reward for your pet's safe return.
Be sure to include a recent picture of your cat, up-to-date contact details, a description, and details of where and when they were last seen.
Pop some posters through people's doors, stick them on lamp-posts, your front gate, your car, shop windows, notice boards, local vets - anywhere and everywhere that you can. While you're distributing posters, be sure to check for any notices that say a cat has been found.
Leave one of your cat's favourite toys or some of their bedding in a sheltered area of the garden. You could also leave something of yours - unwashed so that it still has your scent.
Continue to call for your cat from your garden or while walking around your neighbourhood - particularly at night time when it is quieter. If they are nearby and hear you, they will follow the sound of your voice. Don't forget to give them a chance to respond - call them and then wait (and listen) for a reply.
We are always here to help, and our team devote a lot of their time to helping reunite cats with their owners. Send us an email, or give us a call on 01727 821 372.
For more information on what to do if your cat is missing, please visit the CatChat website and follow their step by step guide to finding a missing or lost cat.
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