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When do you stop looking for a lost cat?

(97 Posts)
deedeelondon Sat 13-Dec-14 23:05:32

My beloved cat went missing two weeks ago, and I am in agony - I miss her so much and have been searching for her day and night ever since. I can think of nothing else. I have put up posters, posted flyers through doors, called all the vets and cat rescue charities in the area, knocked on doors and combed a two mile area on foot, calling for her and looking under bushes and cars. You hear stories of cats returning home months or even years after disappearing, but I know they are few and far between. How long before you give up hope and accept that you have to move on?

OP’s posts: |
timtam23 Sat 13-Dec-14 23:20:50

How awful deedee, poor you - the worst thing is the waiting & not knowing what has happened

My cat went missing for only 3 days earlier this year and that was bad enough. I think after 2 weeks I would personally not give up hope, although I think there is a limit to how "intensely" you can maintain the search for her. You have done so much already. When my cat went missing I posted on here and there were so many positive stories of cats returning after weeks or even months - there is still hope

Is she microchipped? If so have you let the chip company know, in case she is found & taken to a charity or vet?

Other things you could try if not tried already - put some used cat litter or the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag outside, as they can be guided home by their sense of smell if they have got lost; hang her blanket or bedding on the washing line for the same reason; ask the postman to kkep an eye out (and the milkman if you have one); also phone your local council, as if the worst has happened and she has been in an accident, many councils keep a note of animals who are collected from the road and I know my council will scan for a chip/look for a collar & contact the owner if at all possible (when my cat went missing I rang the council & cried down the phone but the environmental health man couldn't have been nicer, I think he gets quite a lot of similar phone calls).

Some kind neighbours also put a description & a photo of my cat on a local Facebook page and on Twitter, some areas have Facebook pages specifically for local cat owners so that might be worth a try as well

Good luck I hope you have news soon

deedeelondon Sun 14-Dec-14 00:03:29

Thanks timtam - I have done all of those things. The awful thing is that she went missing away from home, and although it is only a mile or so, I know it will be too far for her to find her own way back. She is microchipped and my council does scan pets which have been run over - thankfully they don't have a record of her. I don't have any intention of giving up the search yet, I'm just not sure how long I can realistically carry on hoping...

OP’s posts: |
NameChange30 Sun 14-Dec-14 00:09:53

If she's microchipped that's good, if someone sensible finds her they should take her to a vets to get scanned.
Maybe she is fending for herself or someone is feeding her? Some people are cheeky and feed cats that aren't theirs (if there was a cat that kept coming to my house I would try and find out if it was lost rather than feed it, but I guess not everyone is like that)
I wouldn't give up hope, but it sounds like you've done everything you can. Maybe now you should try and focus on other things, and trust that if she is meant to come back to you, she will? It must be hard though. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. flowers

timtam23 Sun 14-Dec-14 00:22:23

I think it is so hard when you have done so much to look for her, keeping yourself busy & keeping your hopes up, because there comes a time when there is really not much else, practically speaking, that you can do and it hits very hard then if she has not returned

Try to keep positive, it would be reasonable to think that she could still return home.

The hardest thing for me was sleeping. I cried a lot and couldn't sleep well for worrying so I guess the longer this goes on, the more important it would be to make sure you are looking after yourself and trying to get some sleep

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 14-Dec-14 00:23:16

I wouldn't give up just yet. I'd still be hopeful of a safe return.

thecatneuterer Sun 14-Dec-14 07:11:22

If she is chipped, and went missing away from home, then there is quite a good chance you will get her back eventually I would have thought. It's more ominous when a cat goes missing from home, as then there has to be a reason for it to be missing. If you somehow lost her away from home (did she escape from a carrier?) then there is of course a good reason for her to be missing which isn't sinister.

I would keep up the poster and flyer campaign in that area for quite a few more weeks (at least replace posters as they get damaged/taken down) and re-leaflet perhaps every four weeks.

A while ago I returned a cat to some people that had been missing for around a year. We had been called to reports of a stray cat. It turned out she was chipped and had gone missing around a year previously when it was being temporarily looked after by the owners' parents, some miles from where they lived.

fenneltea Sun 14-Dec-14 07:50:29

I think two weeks is still early days too. I have an ex feral housecat who is terrified when she is outdoors. She managed to escape one day when the cat flap had blown open and was missing for several days. We left the conservatory door open and she was still too frightened to come in. We eventually caught her by putting a trap out baited with her favourite food. She was starving when we did get her back and slept solidly for three days. I have two traps and a neighbour also allowed me to put one in her garden where she had been sighted.

Apparently when a cat is frightened and doesn't know its surroundings it is more likely to just hide and not run off, even if it hears its owner shouting, so I would think that the chances are that yours is still fairly close to the locality where she was lost. Combing the area at night when it is quiet may be worth a try, and would there be anywhere you could safely leave a trap out? The danger is of course that you may trap the wrong cat!

I do hope you are reuntited soon, your chances will be better the more pro active you are and the more publicity you can create. Good luck, it is so horrible not knowing where they are.

fenneltea Sun 14-Dec-14 09:05:51

Just to add that Animal Search UK has some useful information on its website and volunteers that can keep an eye out in the area.

deedeelondon Sun 14-Dec-14 19:17:25

Thank you all for your support - I've been out today to put up more posters and have had a few calls, but all proved to be false alarms. Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of similar looking cats in the area.
catneuterer she was being looked after by a relative for a couple of nights as we were having work done on the house. With all the noise and disruption, builders in and out all day, and me at work, I was worried that she would find it all too stressful, and thought she'd be safer elsewhere. Somehow she managed to slip out of the house unnoticed.
We've put out a humane trap near where we think she escaped, but have not had any luck so far. I can only hope that she will be found by a cat lover who has the good sense to take her to a vet to have her scanned for a chip.

OP’s posts: |
thecatneuterer Sun 14-Dec-14 20:21:00

Is the relative leaving food out during the day? That really would help a lot. She probably hasn't gone far.

timtam23 Sun 14-Dec-14 22:00:03

Oh deedee what a shame, your relative must be beside themselves with worry as well.

At least people are paying attention to the notices & flyers, if you keep it fresh in their minds there is still a good chance someone will spot her & know that she is missing. Definitely leave food out at your relatives and maybe also something that would smell of her own home?

IndigoBlue Mon 15-Dec-14 14:06:01

Your best hope is that she is microchipped, we got our cat back just over 2 years (!) after he went missing because he was chipped. So it's hard to say when to give up hope! He had got lost shortly after we moved house and turned out he was living only a mile away. Good luck, hope you find her

RubbishMantra Mon 15-Dec-14 14:22:53

A friend's cat came wandering back in the other day, he'd been gone for 18 months.

hiddenhome Mon 15-Dec-14 18:17:04

Mine has been missing for about 18 months now and I'll never give up hope. He's microchipped and I feel that he may still be out there somewhere. I kept paying his insurance for about six months then cancelled it.

I hope your kitty returns soon. I understand the heartbreak. You learn to live with it, but the pain lingers. I think that microchipping gives them the best chance. Phone the microchip company and let them know what's happened.

tootiredtothink Mon 15-Dec-14 21:24:43

I read today about putting their used litter tray outside...they can smell it for miles apparently. Is that something you could do?

My cat returned after 4 weeks recently. I feel your pain.

So many positive stories so don't give up hope.

shaska Tue 16-Dec-14 10:57:09

When I was a child, we sent our cats to our GM's house during a house move. They escaped. One of them was one of those ones who'd take himself home, no matter how far he had to go, and he turned up back at our old house within a week. The other was nice but dim and vanished. This was in the days before microchipping.

About a year later my DM went to a dinner party at a new friend's house. She turned up and the missing cat was sitting on their doorstep. They'd found her and taken her in. My DM felt awful having to say 'that's my cat' but she did, and they were happy for us to have her back - I still remember DM turning up with the cat in the car and asking if I believed in miracles.

It can happen!

deedeelondon Tue 16-Dec-14 14:36:54

That's an amazing story shashka - the sort of miracle I'm wishing for.

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deedeelondon Tue 16-Dec-14 14:45:35

We're leaving out food - even though the neighbours are complaining that it's attracting stray cats and foxes (clearly not cat lovers), and have left a T shirt of mine with my scent on it. There are some very kind people out there, calling about potential sightings and even just to ask if we've found her yet.

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Tue 16-Dec-14 14:59:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hiddenhome Tue 16-Dec-14 19:48:01

I worry about mine turning up at his home because we've now moved. We're going to leave the buyers with our contact details in case he ever does turn up.

KittieCat Wed 17-Dec-14 23:02:54

Our girl went for six and a half weeks. We eventually got her back as I'd posted out the last of our posters to vets within a ten mile radius and I followed up with calls asking them to put them up.
One vet had put one up and she was recognised and then scanned. The vet said he wouldn't necessarily have scanned otherwise!
Don't give up.

negrilbaby Thu 18-Dec-14 22:16:59

Have you tried walking the area at night when it is quiet?
Years ago one of our cats disappeared. We did what you had done - posters, walking the area, etc etc. Two weeks later we walked the area about midnight calling him and listening. Finally we heard him meowing. We tracked him down finally to a scrap yard with guard dogs. He was terrified so had found a corner and bunkered down, hiding from everything.

deedeelondon Fri 19-Dec-14 00:36:01

I've contacted all the local vets kittie - `I will cast the net wider and send posters out further afield. I'm praying that someone will take her to be scanned.
negril I mostly go out looking at nightime, sometimes in the early hours - no sign of her at all yet. It's been nearly three weeks now... I don't even know if she is still in the area sad

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steppeupunderthemisletoe Fri 19-Dec-14 00:44:36

Mine went missing for 5 months. I left home for new job after she had gone, and then one night she just turned up at mum's back door. Hungry, thin and grumpy, but fine

years later she had hip problems and the x-ray showed that at some point she had dislocated her hip and it had healed wrong. You would never have known from looking at her or from seeing her walk. I think she did it in that 5 months, and couldn't get home. My parents live in the country and she had a large range that she wandered in. There was no way to even get close to some of the places she could go (woods in peoples 'gardens' etc) Once her hip had healed she got home.

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