Back in 1997, MAR Network director Kat Albrecht started to study the behavioral patterns of lost cats and also dogs. Because of a lift in search-and-rescue (searching for lost people), Kat taken the an important connection in between behavior and also the distances that civilization travel when lost. That made sense to Kat that the behavior of cats (and dogs) would additionally influence the ranges that castle travel. This is a little sample the what Kat has learned and also now teaches the consultants and pet detectives listed in the pets Detective Directory.

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If you need help, inspect our Pet Detective Directory web page to view if girlfriend can uncover a local resource (volunteer, payment professional, or a on facebook team) the can assist you in your initiative to recoup your absent cat and you have a far better understanding that Lost Cat actions or absent Cat Behavior’s.

There are 3 types of shed Cat actions or lacking Cat Behavior

Displaced Indoor-Only cats (i.e. Cats Who’ve Escaped Outdoors)


If your indoor-only cat has actually escaped and is somewhere external or in unfamiliar are there is an excellent news — your cat is probably not “lost” in ~ all! In most cases, a cat that is all of sudden transplanted into an unfamiliar area is considered a DISPLACED CAT. Most situations of displacement involve indoor-only cat that escape outside. However, outdoor-access cats can come to be displaced as well.

When cats space displaced into an unfamiliar area, the cat is most most likely hiding in silence, often not far from the to escape point, and they will no meow! This is because cats room territorial and also their main protective measure up from predators is come hide in silence. Cat that space afraid (and cats that are injured) will seek locations of concealment such together under a deck, under a house, under a porch, or in heavy brush and they will not meow! Meowing would offer up their place to a predator. Their behavior has nothing to execute with even if it is the cat loves you, even if it is it recognizes your voice, or even if it is it have the right to smell you–it has everything to perform with the fact that a scared cat will certainly hide in silence!

The an approach that Kat Albrecht and also her network have actually pioneered (starting back in 1999) that has actually resulted in the recovery of countless “missing” indoor-only cats (and displaced outdoor-access cats) is the same technique used to capture feral cats–the usage of a humane trap. We speak to this “trap-and-reunite” or “TAR.” These cable cages are easily accessible for rental indigenous your neighborhood shelter or vet or because that sale in ~ hardware stores, pet stores, or online. Humane traps have actually a trip device that once triggered through a cat (or other little animal), will shut the door and also contain a cat inside. We highly recommend the Tru-Catch brand the humane trap (the brown trap presented on the best – i m sorry is the size “30D” and fits little cats choose this 10 pound gray tabby). Bespeak the size “36D” if her cat is larger). Contrasted to other traps (like the one top top the left) which close loudly as soon as shut, the Tru-Catch is lot quieter and also is less likely to panic a cat when initially trapped. Many likely, friend won’t uncover these traps in ~ the neighborhood hardware store but you can order lock on-line at

Displaced Outdoor-Access Cats

Displacement because that outdoor-access cats happens once the cat is chased out of their well-known territory (i.e. Beat increase by another cat, chased by a dog, or even panicked by fireworks wherein the cat bolts in fear and also ends up in a garden he has never been in before). Displacement the outdoor cats can likewise happen once an outdoor-access cat is being transported to one more location and also accidently escapes—like when connected in a role over car accident, escaping your carrier in ~ a vet’s office, or escaping a camper if on a camping trip. Over the years, we’ve uncovered that outdoor-access cats that were chased from their home finished up hiding in a neighbor’s yard ten residences down, too disoriented and afraid come come home! In this cases, also though the cat is technically one “outdoor-access cat,” it is a DISPLACED CAT and also you have to follow the instructions for displaced cats.

In among the investigations the Kat Albrecht solved, she cat-detection dog located a absent cat called Gizmo who was absent for 3 days. Gizmo was hiding inside an abandoned tub in a yard just two houses away. While part cats have the remarkable capacity to use the homing instinct to work-related their means back to your territory, other cats that are displaced either don’t possess this ability or they’re as well frightened to usage it. In cases of displacement, also though the cat is technically one “outdoor-access cat,” the is a DISPLACED CAT when it ends up in an area the is unfamiliar. A cat’s separation, personal, instance temperament can range anywhere from a bold “clown-like” cat come the other finish of the spectrum i beg your pardon is a catatonic “feral-like” cat. This temperament will likewise influence how far he/she will travel and whether or no he/she will respond to human being contact. Recovery techniques should it is in geared roughly a lacking cat’s unique, individual temperament. If he or she is skittish, he/she will more likely be nearby hiding in fear and also you’ll must use a humane catch to recover him/her. If he or she is gregarious, he/she could easily travel several blocks (even a mile or two) and also you’ll must knock top top doors and post fluorescent posters at significant intersections in the area.

Lost Outdoor-Access Cats

By “Lost Outdoor-Access Cat” we typical that you room the caretaker that a cat the is routinely enabled to go outdoors, even for short periods the time. One of the many profound discoveries that Kat Albrecht discovered early ~ above is that the approaches that need to be provided to search for a lost outdoor-access cat are much different 보다 those used to search for a absent indoor-only (or a displaced) cat! as soon as an outdoor-access cat disappears, it method that something has actually happened to the cat come interrupt its actions of comes home. Cats space territorial and they execute not simply run far from residence (like dogs do). For this reason the tactics and also techniques used to find for a lacking cat should be various than those offered to find for a absent dog.

Lost cat posters will certainly not always aid find your cat if it has crawled under your neighbor’s deck and is injured and silent. Large, neon lost cat posters need to be used, and also social media write-ups (especially because that area-based society networks like next Door), however, society media posts and also neon posters should be a supplement come a targeted find in the immediate area of where the cat disappeared. Most often this involves an aggressive, physical search of a cat’s territory. And also yes, that method looking under and also in every conceivable hiding place in her yard and in your neighbors’ yards!

In 2017, a study was conducted by the university of Queensland, Australia (Kat Albrecht and Dr. Jacquie rand conceived the study and also UOQ and MPP collaborated on the study). Here is a an overview of the examine results:

1,232 cat owner who’d shed a cat took part in the study.The number one method that was the many successful in recovering a absent cat was conducting a physical search of the area. The mean distance found (how far the cats traveled) for lacking outdoor-access cats was 315 meters (344 yards). This is roughly a 17-house radius from their owner’s home.The mean distance discovered (how far the cats traveled) for displaced / escaped indoor-only cat was lot less—it was just 50 meter (54 yards) which is about a 2 ½ home radius from your owner’s home.

The results of this scientific study confirm what Kat Albrecht discovered years ago and the she teaches in the MAR course—the physical find for a absent cat requirements to focus within your immediate neighborhood! society media posts are important, however obtaining permission from her neighbor to search their residential or commercial property is critical! merely handing a flyer to your neighbor and also asking them to “search” for your cat IS not ENOUGH! her neighbor is not going to get on their ship to watch under their deck or under your house, yet the is wherein your cat is most most likely to be! the is approximately you, the owner, to conduct this type of slow, systematic search v a flashlight. If you are not comfortable in doing this type of search, then consider hiring someone from our pet Detective directory who IS comfortable in conducting this methodical search.

When one outdoor-access cat vanishes, the investigative concern and secret to resolve is: WHAT occurred TO THE CAT? There space basically eight things that might have occurred to her cat–we contact these “Probability Categories.” as you find for your absent cat, consider which category seems the most likely for your details cat:

Eight Probability Categories associated to shed Cat Behavior

YOUR CAT IS TRAPPED –Your cat can be increase a tree, on a roof, under a house, within a neighbor’s basement or shed. This way that your cat would most likely be within its common territory, commonly a 5-house radius of her home. If you cat has ever before vanished because that a couple of days and came home very thirsty or hungry, he could be vulnerable to becoming trapped.YOUR CAT IS DISPLACED right into AN UNFAMILIAR AREA – Cats that space chased indigenous their territory either by dogs, people, or various other cats who beat lock up and also cats that space panicked by fireworks will certainly often end up being “displaced” into unfamiliar territory. Countless of this cats, as soon as their adrenaline levels have actually subsided, will job-related their method back home, often showing up the next day or a few days later. Yet many of these cats, especially those v skittish temperaments, will certainly be therefore panicked by the suffer that they will hide in fear and also will be as well afraid to return home.YOUR CAT was UNINTENTIONALLY TRANSPORTED the end OF THE AREA –Cases of unintended transport include your cat climbing right into a moving van or organization vehicle and also being transported to an additional city or even across the country.YOUR CAT WAS deliberately TRANSPORTED out OF THE AREA –Cases of knowingly removal encompass a cat-hating neighbor who catches your cat and either bring away it to a distant shelter or dumps it in a field far from your home.YOUR CAT IS INJURED, SICK, OR IS DECEASED –Injured or ailing (or displaced, panicked) cats will certainly hide in silence. What this way is that prior to you print up shed cat posters or drive under to your sanctuary to look because that your shed cat, search under and in every conceivable hiding ar on your very own property and also on your neighbors’ property!YOUR CAT was RESCUED –By “rescue” we average someone found your cat and assumed it to be an abandoned stray and also they take it it into their house. This happens frequently, particularly with cats that space not microchipped or that execute not undertake a collar and ID tag.YOUR CAT to be STOLEN –Thankfully, this is simply not really likely. While some purebred and exotic cats are stolen, the events where who knowingly steals a cat are rather rare.YOUR CAT WAS killed BY A PREDATOR –This is sad to think about, but it walk happen. Coyotes and great Horned owls are predators that sometimes prey upon cat and small dogs if the possibility presents itself. If you live in an area wherein these and also other predators (hawks, eagles, cougars, etc.) roam, climate this is a factor that you need to consider. However, back coyotes can and also do occasionally kill cats, not all coyotes are cat killers! We’ve encountered many situations where cats were shed for mainly in areas where coyotes dwelled and also the cat were never ever harmed.

Digital Wildlife Cameras

Sometimes setup a humane catch is no the best method to usage to recover a missing cat. In numerous cases, the use of digital wildlife cameras combined with feeding train station is a far better way to confirm feasible sightings or to check that her displaced cat is quiet in the instant area. Cameras work particularly well in cases where a cat is displaced in one apartment facility where there space zillions that cats, in locations where there are countless raccoons, or in other instances where a humane trap would be an overwhelming to use. The ide is setting out food with a wildlife camera that will snap picture of all the pets that eat the food so that once you come earlier the next morning, you can pull the SD card, put it in your computer, and also see picture of raccoon, raccoon, raccoon, CALICO!! over there IS my CAT!! indigenous that allude you might work to strategically humanely trap her cat while preventing the raccoons and also other cats. This is miscellaneous that any kind of of the trained resources noted in our pet Detective directory could consult v you about if you decide to seek this technique. Us recommend infrared cameras the does no flash (because then no one sees them and also they are not most likely to be stolen). Right here are some of MAR Network manager Kat Albrecht’s blog stories around dogs and also cats that were recovered because of the use of digital wildlife cameras:

Bebe (displaced cat) – Bebe, a skittish cat who escaped and also “lost” in a ar for four months was finally recorded on camera by MPP and also hours later, recorded in a humane trap.

Buddy (displaced cat) – wildlife camera aided confirm that he remained in the yard however was no going right into the little trap, thus a “drop trap” was supplied instead.

Mugsy (displaced cat) – wildlife cameras helped confirm the displaced cat Mugsy to be in truth in a remote area of the woods.

Binky (displaced cat) – wildlife cameras helped ascendancy out a dorn cat (gray tabby v white chest) in one area when the various other camera confirmed right wherein Binky (Russian Blue cat) was hiding.

Burley & Keko (two various displaced cats) – wildlife cameras supplied to confirm that Burley to be hiding in his very own yard (it take it 33 days for him to go into the humane trap!) and also yet Keko was discovered miles away because of microchip.

Otto (panicked dog) – wildlife camera aided confirm the a “white & black color dog” spotted in a remote area to be in fact Otto, a lacking dog.

Mack (panicked dog) – digital wildlife camera used to confirm absent dog Mack remained in deed in ~ a details neighborhood. Once a humane dog catch failed, he was ultimately recorded using a “magnet dog & snappy snare.”

Bill (panicked dog) – digital wildlife camera offered to check hiding place for Bill, a dog who escaped and also was ~ above the run for virtually one year!

For more information top top wild life cameras visit security Cameras page.

Additional lost Cat Behaviors

The quiet Factor: This is a term that Kat Albrecht coined to define the lost cat behavior when a sick, injured, or panicked cat will hide in silence. That is a natural form of security for a cat to discover a place to hide under a house, a deck, a porch, bushes, or any type of place they deserve to crawl. The quiet Factor kills countless cats because if the cat is noble or injured and also hiding under a neighbor’s deck, cat owner are typically busy “looking” for your cat down at the regional shelter or they room busy posting flyers top top telephone poles. Instead, the ideal search for most cats in most instances is to command an aggressive, physical find of the immediate area while understanding that the cat might be nearby by but hiding in silence.

The Threshold Factor: This is an interesting behavioral pattern the Kat Albrecht observed v displaced cats. Numerous of this cats at first hide in silence, however eventually break cover and meow, go back to their home or the escape point (window or door), or finally go into a humane trap. While some cats take only hrs or a couple of days come reach their threshold, plenty of others take numerous days (typically ten to twelve days) prior to they break cover. We suspect the threshold is reached because of their thirst, although much more research needs to be carried out into this lost cat behavior.

Kitty Litter Myth


Many internet sites (and also some pets detectives) recommend the if your cat is lost that you spread out cat litter, cat feces, or scent write-ups of the cat owner around the home that the cat is absent from. The principle is that your cat ran far or is out of the area and also by putting something with your odor on it (a dirty t-shirt, dirty underwear, etc.) in her yard, it will entice your cat and encourage him to come back home. Some likewise advocate putting out dirty cat litter or feces—as if the cat needs this cue to assist him find his way back home. The MAR Network does not support this exercise for the complying with reasons:

The very first reason we don’t introduce the kitty litter technique is that the urine/feces scent could attract wild cats into the yard wherein a absent cat can be hiding. Cats are territorial and also when one indoor-only cat escapes outdoors, that cat is regularly hiding in ~ the region of an additional (outside) neighborhood cat. Dirty cat litter have the right to attract ar “tom” cat (intact masculine cats) or various other territorial community cats and also that scent might predispose them to want to protect their territory, illustration them right into the area wherein a displaced cat is hiding in silence. These territorial cats room put into defense setting when castle detect the pheromones from another cat’s urine and also feces, leading to them come be all set to fight. This cats space then an ext likely to beat up and also chase the lost (displaced) cat indigenous his hiding place, making a recovery an ext difficult. However, making use of cat food (and a wildlife camera) will attract a territorial cat in also, however the odor of food will not likely create the same level of aggression / readiness come fight as urine and feces would. Nobody of this has been proven in a clinical study (yet), but it is the opinion the the MAR Network the you are much better off investing time and also effort in conducting a physical find for your lost cat and using wildlife cameras or a humane trap than you space in placing out dirty cat litter.

You can likely find countless on-line testimonials from cat owners who claim positive outcomes from scent luring scattering dirty cat litter or feces in your yards or placing their cat’s litterbox on their porch. The is much more likely that these cats returned home due to one of two factors: a behavior called “The Threshold Phenomenon” (described above) or simply because of their temperament than because of anything the they smelled. Cat owners wrongly associate the reality that their cat returned home due to a scent tempt (dirty cat litter) when, in fact, their details cat would have actually returned house on that own anyway through or there is no a scent lure because it ultimately reached that threshold (indoor-only cat hiding in fear) or the cat to be trapped somewhere and finally got complimentary (outdoor cat trapped in neighbor’s garage, increase a tree, etc.). As stated earlier, in many instances a food tempt (placed inside a humane catch or collection down on the ground v a wildlife camera pointing at it to record photos) is the best form of lure to use and also is a highly efficient recovery method. Another scent the could assist (at a humane trap) is to spray Feliway, a pheromone that helps to patience stressed cats.

The last reason why the MAR Network does no advocate using dirty cat litter together a scent tempt for cat is the most important one: it is a passive approach come finding a shed cat. Cat owners might think they space “doing something” by put dirty clothing or cat feces in their yard. Some internet folklore short articles have declared that “cats have the right to smell a mile away” and advise you to merely put your cat’s litterbox outside, claiming “it works!” However, scientific research has presented that these cat owners would have a higher chance of recovering your cat by conducting one aggressive, physical search of your yard and also their neighbor’s yards. We understand that that is much less intrusive come your next-door neighbors to set out a dirty cat litter box on your porch and also hope the your cat will certainly come house than it is come ask your neighbor permission to go into their yard and to crawl roughly under their home or deck, but a physical search of your neighbor’s yards (and baited humane trap and/or digital wildlife cameras) is the most efficient recovery technique for finding a missing cat.

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Cat grounding Up A Tree?

If you find your lacking cat trapped up in a tree and also you need assistance, visit the Cat in a Tree Rescue. If you live in western Washington friend can call Canopy Cat Rescue, a non-profit organization that specialization in cat stuck in trees. They preserve an international listing the tree mountain climbing who sell rescue solutions for cat trapped in a tree. Their website also contains additional helpful information about how cats behave as soon as trapped in trees and also what to perform if your cat is trapped on height of a utility pole.

Disclaimer: at first posted on missing Pet Partnership’s website (which was occurred by MPP Founder Kat Albrecht), the adhering to lost pet recovery advice is part of MAR Network’s 8-week and 10-week lacking Animal an answer (MAR) Course and also is posted on this site both to assist train volunteer and professional lost pet restore resources and also to benefit pet owner needing advice. Feel totally free to connect to this web page so the this info may be mutual in bespeak to educate pet owners in her community.