Find lost cat who’s out of my home – a step-by-step guide

A timid lost cat will hide if they get out of your home. You will need to search for them, at night, looking for their eyeshine.

If you have lost your timid cat, we have good news and bad news.

The good news

Frightened cats rarely travel far from their home. Chances are that they’re hiding close by, possibly on your property.

Here, you will find detailed information on how to find them. It is based on up-to-date research on missing cat behaviour.

The bad news

You will need to put your life on hold and physically search for them, for days, weeks or months. They are very unlikely to come home on their own or be found at a shelter or pound.

On the lost cat pages

On the lost cat pages, you’ll find everything you need (other than manpower and equipment), to search for your cat, including template fliers for doorknocking.

Steps you’ll go through to find your cat

If you can’t find your cat, these are the usual steps you’ll go through:

  1. Search inside your home thoroughly. Cats are expert hiders (especially if a vet visit is coming – how do they always know?!)
  2. Learn about what lost cats do
  3. Search your own property, checking every single nook and cranny
  4. Make sure your contact details are up to date on their microchip record and report them as ‘lost’ to their microchip company
  5. If you don’t find them on your own property, prepare your search plan and information you’ll need to show neighbours when doorknocking
  6. Doorknock neighbours and ask permission to search their properties
  7. Use wildlife cameras to passively monitor properties (page to come)
  8. Do CSI-type searches of neighbours’ properties
  9. When you find them, safely bring them back home.
  10. If you don’t find them, ramp things up to the next level
  11. Keep going until you find them
  12. Don’t give up.

‘Lost your cat? two page flier

Check out this excellent ‘Lost your cat?’ flier from G2Z for a two page summary of how to find your lost cat. Then come back here for more detailed guidance and resource material.

I’ve found them – now what?

Now you need to keep your wits about you, stay calm and work out a plan to get them safely home. They won’t behave like they do at home – they’re out of their territory and are frightened. Be extra careful not to frighten them and drive them away.

Finding confident cats

Finding confident cats is easier than finding scaredy cats, as they are less likely to be comatose with fear for as long. If your cat is confident and likely to approach people, in addition to the methods on this page (not instead of), you could try:

  • listing them on various Lost Animal Facebook groups. Just be aware that cats aren’t commonly found this way and this shouldn’t substitute for active searching.
  • tagging your car and creating a mobile billboard
  • using your house as a trap
  • using big signs.


The Missing Animal Response Network and Cats in the Bag websites have excellent information on:
  • How frightened cats behave
  • How to search
  • How to make effective fliers for doorknocking
  • How to make effective signs for streets
  • How to trap

The Lost Pet Research and Recovery website has other useful information.

Check out the Missing Animal Response Network’s YouTube channel for some excellent videos that demonstrate information on this website.

Missing Cat Assistance support group

Losing an animal can be an incredibly stressful, and lonely, experience. Maintaining the motivation and determination to continue searching can be difficult, especially if people close to you are suggesting that your cat won’t be alive or (gasp!) that they’re ‘just a cat’.

The Missing Cat Assistance online support group is available, to discuss strategies for finding your missing cat and to provide moral support. People there understand the heartbreak and stress that goes with searching for a missing cat. Some members have found their cats after lengthy periods of searching, going to considerable lengths, including travelling interstate.