“A coyote must have gotten her.”  That is what so many people think when their cat goes missing.  The fact is that every year hundreds of stray cats end up at the animal shelter and not in the mouths of coyotes.

Last year, Brown County Humane Society received 85 stray cats. Most of them were social with people and had obviously been someone’s pet. Of those 85, only 5 were reunited with their owner.

If a cat goes missing from your home you might think it is lost forever, but cats are smart and do a great job of protecting themselves in unfamiliar places. Don’t panic and begin a thorough search for your kitty.

Cats do not generally travel long distances when they get out. Studies have shown that 75% of lost cats were found less 1/3 of a mile from home and 18% were found hiding directly outside their home. They often are terrified and nearby in hiding mode. This means your cat will not meow if you are close by, even if he recognizes you.

If your cat does goes missing, here are tips to help find them:

  • Search around your home – look in bushes, under buildings, under cars or any other tiny space your cat can squeeze into. Remember that they are in hiding mode and can fit in tiny spaces.
  • The chances of your cat making sounds are very slim and they could be right where you are looking so be detailed in your visual search.
  • Search your surroundings at different times of the day – cats are most active at night and so may be out of hiding.
  • Make flyers with a photo of your lost cat. Distribute it to all your neighbors and remember cats can travel through woods and fields. So, even if you don’t consider someone a close neighbor, reach out to them anyway as a cat’s path is not on a road.
  • Ask neighbors to check under porches and inside of their outbuildings. Your cat could have snuck in when a door was open and now cannot get out.
  • Place large, brightly colored posters with your cat’s picture and your phone number at major intersections close to your home. Also, be sure to post your lost cat on your social media page as well as local lost and found pet social media pages.
  • Call the shelter and report your cat missing, 812-988-7362. Visit the shelter often to look for your cat. And, if you live near a county line, call surrounding shelters as well.

These are all great tips for finding your lost cat, but there is one thing you can do to increase chances of reunification before your cat ever goes missing.  Get your cat microchipped! Cats with a microchip are 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owner than those without. 20 times! Microchips can be inserted by veterinarians at your cat’s next visit; it is as easy as getting a shot.

And remember – your lost cat is more likely to be hiding nearby or at the animal shelter than in a coyote’s belly!