What To Do When Your Lost Cat Returns Home?

What To Do When Your Lost Cat Returns Home?

Realizing that a pet cat is missing is a tragic and traumatic experience for every doting pet parent. You’ve already knocked on every door in your neighborhood and searched every nook and cranny but still, no signs of your kitty. Then, out of the blue, you suddenly see her on your front door!

What to do when your lost cat returns home? You should feed her in moderation, check her for injuries and fleas, bathe her, and preferably have her checked by a vet. 

Why do cats go missing or get lost?

According to the American Humane Association around 1 out of 3 pets are lost at some point in their lifetime and approximately 10 million pets are stolen each year in the US. In Europe, an estimated 6.5 million cats are lost at any one time and an estimated 25% or approximately 1.6 million cats will never be reunited with their owners. 

What are the usual reasons why cats go missing or get lost? Cats that are most prone to go missing are non-surprisingly those that have access to the outdoors. Here are some of the common reasons why they go missing or get lost:

  • a cat usually goes missing or becomes lost if it’s unspayed or unneutered
  • if it finds a more beneficial place or environment other than your home
  • if a cat becomes distracted or chases animals to unfamiliar places 
  • if you recently moved to a new home but the cat tries to get back to her old dwelling 
  • if someone intentionally removed her from an area such as an apartment manager or an irate neighbor.
  • if a cat becomes injured while hunting for prey 
  • if it gets chased away by other cats or dogs 
  • if they become trapped or transported away
  • if a person who saw her wandering takes her home or to a shelter  

For more information read our article on why do cats disappear for days at a time.

What to do when your lost cat returns home?

It’s been a few days and you still got no luck in finding your cat but then, one morning, your pet kitty suddenly appears in the doorway, looking quite confused and hungry. What to do then? Cat experts recommend that you do the following:

Give your cat some food.

In many cases, your cat has experienced starvation while she was lost and wandering in the streets. Once she returns home, try to give her some food but not in large quantities. Feeding your cat with a large amount of cat food may cause more harm than good. and could result in liver damage. Give her food in small amounts in the first 24 hours after her return. You should also give her water in moderate amounts so as not to overwhelm her system.  

Give your cat some food.
Image: istockphoto.com / Jose Martinez Calderon

Bring your cat to the vet. 

After making sure that your cat gets settled back in and eating normally again after getting lost, make sure to bring her to the vet. Your cat may have suffered injuries or wounds while out in the streets or neighborhood but doesn’t seem to manifest any sign of it. Also, your kitty may have become infested with fleas and other parasites.

Your vet may take laboratory tests on your cat and may deworm her should she be infected with internal parasites. Should your cat appears weak or has no appetite for food, your vet may decide to give injectable vitamins or put her on intravenous therapy. Your vet may also do a  pregnancy test on your cat especially if your cat was unspayed when she got lost as it may be likely that she was in heat when she went missing. 

Give her a quick bath. 

You should also make sure to give your cat a quick bath to freshen her up and to get rid of fleas, ticks, and other unnecessary things that may have been lurking in her fur.  Aside from that, it’s also a good way to wash away traces of dirt and grime from your cat’s coat. 

Be sure to spay or neuter your cat. 

Cats that are unspayed or unneutered are more likely to roam and get lost because they’re searching for a mate. To prevent this, make sure to have your pet kitty spayed or neutered. Doing so also has benefits. 

Here are the common advantages of spaying or neutering your cat:

  • neutered cats are less likely to develop testicular cancer and prostate problems
  • spayed cats live healthier lives and have lesser risks of getting uterine infections or cancerous tumors
  • your cat becomes more behaved and lesser incidents of spraying or urination in random places around the house 

It’s about time to microchip your cat.

Having your cat microchipped is a good choice as it protects your kitty from getting stolen or becoming lost again. A microchip is a tiny computer chip that’s about the size of a rice grain. A vet implants it under your cat’s skin with the use of a needle, just as it is with most vaccinations. Every microchip carries a registration number that indicates the owner’s name as well as contact information. The pertinent information is stored in the pet registry service database and can be read using readers that most shelters and vets have so that the cat’s owner can be contacted easily.

Here are the benefits of having your cat microchipped:

  • it’s an innovative tag that’s permanent unlike cat collars that may break or fall off 
  • it’s definitive proof of ownership 
  • stolen or lost cats are more likely to be returned to their rightful owners 
  • it has functionalities to ensure safety both for you and your cat such as the ability to open the cat flap once your cat approaches the cat door
  • it already lasts a lifetime and to avoid malfunctions have it scanned by your vet at least annually. 
It’s about time to microchip your cat.
Image: istockphoto.com / LuckyBusiness

Don’t forget to update the lost pet listing.

If you posted on websites online that your cat was missing, make sure to update those said listings once your lost cat has returned home. It will make it easier for other pet owners who are also searching for lost pets as well as for people looking for lost pets to trip down the search matches.

Give her a quiet place and some quiet time.

Your cat may be a little shaken or disoriented upon her return home so it’s best to let her have some quiet time away from everyone in your household.  Place or give her a quiet place where she can rest such as a cozy nook or a small quiet room. Give her at least a day or two and hopefully, she’ll be back to her usual elements by that time. 

Take time to secure your home so your cat can’t sneak away again.

If you’ve been quite lax before when it comes to cat safety then it’s about time that you should reevaluate and secure your home and surroundings. Try to install a cat door to keep your cat safe. If your pet cat loves the outdoors she can still safely hang around by installing a catio or cat sanctuary. 

Final thoughts

A lost or missing pet cat is one of the worst scenarios that could happen to a pet parent but once she returns home it’s always a reason to celebrate. Treat her with tender loving care and understand that she may have gone through a lot of stress while she was missing.

1 thought on “What To Do When Your Lost Cat Returns Home?”

  1. My rescue cat Dora went missing for 3 days, we were frantic with worry. Me youngest daughter finely found her a few roads down from us. She is okay, a little bit scared but we gave her some space to settle down. I want to know, how long should we leave it before we let her out again after her ordeal.


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