You’ll often see ‘lost animal’ A4 sheets on lamp posts as you drive by. How much information on the flier can you read as you whizz past? Probably not much; perhaps just ‘lost’.
Do you drive back to read it? You’d be a rare person if you do.
To get people’s attention, you need to use much larger, much more eye-catching signs.
When to use ‘big signs’
‘Big signs’ can be useful in generating sightings, especially if you feel your cat has gone further afield.
They are more effective for confident cats who tend to explore and be more visible to people. However, if you’ve started to run out of steam and need a break from searching, they may help – at least to keep your lost cat in people’s minds.
Why big signs work
The key to the ‘big signs’ is to use minimal words and a clear photo, so that people can read all of the information on the sign while driving, without slowing down.
The Missing Animal Response Network describes it as 5+5+55 – people need to be able to read 5 words in 5 seconds while doing 55 miles per hour.
What you’ll need
- Fluoro 600mm x 900mm cardboard or coreflute. We use yellow coreflute from a sign maker, but this can be hard to find. If you can only find white coreflute, buy some fluoro card from a stationery store and stick it to the coreflute.
- black paint
- Laminated A3 sheets or A4 sheets and sheet protectors
- Step ladder
- Cordless drill and drill bit
- Button-head screws
- Packing tape
- Ideally, someone to hold the ladder
How to make them
- Buy 600 x 900mm sheets of coreflute, 5mm thick, from a signwriter. Bright yellow is ideal but can be hard to find.
- If you can’t find a bright colour, buy fluoro cardboard from a stationery store and tape it to the coreflute.
- In large letters, put ‘PLEASE HELP’ at the top and ‘LOST CAT’ at the bottom of the sheet. We make a stencil using a manila folder, then spray paint over it. Or you could print out large letters, laminate them and tape them to the top and bottom of the signs.
- Print out two A3 (best) or A4 sheets:
- Left hand sheet: Brief description of cat, street and contact numbers
- eg ‘Fluffy black, Cnr Brown/Green St, 0411 222 333, 0422 333 444
- Right hand sheet: Good photo of cat. For timid cats, ‘Very timid – do not approach’
- If using sheet protectors, place with opening at the bottom. Seal closed with sticky tape. Or you could laminate them – Officeworks will do this
- Stick the sheets onto the coreflute using packing tape.
Where to put the signs
Place the signs so that anyone entering your lost cat’s ‘catchment’ area will see the sign as they drive past. For a timid cat, include at least a five house radius; for a confident cat, increase this.
If your cat has been lost for a while, they may have travelled further. Increase the coverage of your signs.
How to fix signs to poles
Unless your signs are out of reach of pedestrians, you may find that mischievous people remove them.
We recommend using a step ladder to place them out of reach of people.
- Drill a hole into the lamp post at the centre top and bottom of the sign with a cordless drill
- Screw 25mm long button screws into the lamp post with a screwdriver. Button screws have a larger, flat ‘head’ on them, compared to that of a nail, and are less likely to tear the coreflute if it’s windy.
- Wrap packing tape around the sign and pole, to give extra strength. The Missing Animal Response Network recommends this method for taping them to poles.
*The Missing Animal Response Network now recommends using ‘PLEASE HELP!’ or ‘HELP FIND!’ rather than ‘REWARD’, as it engages the altruistic part of people’s brains more than ‘reward’ does. It also reduces the likelihood of you being contacted by scammers.
How to fix signs to trees
If there are no suitable lamp posts in the area, wrapping packing tape around trees is another option.
Please don’t drill or nail into trees. This can damage them.
More details and demo videos
The Missing Animal Response Network has more details on how to make these.