TIPS: HOW TO FIND YOUR CAT
1. File a lost pet report with your local animal control officer and your local shelter.
For Ottawa, you can file a report online with the Ottawa Humane Society at http://www.ottawahumane.ca/services/lost-and-found/claim-your-lost-pet/lost-animal-report/
For l'Outaouais, you can file a report online with the SPCA l'Outaouais at
For surrounding areas, please see our tab "Important Contact Numbers" for other local shelters and animal control officers. http://www.ottawaandvalleylostpetnetwork.ca/important-numbers.html
2. Post your cat on our Facebook page, Ottawa and Valley Lost Pet Network. This is a free service.
3. Check Kijiji, Used Ottawa and other buy and sell sites as many people post ads there. Look in every category including: Lost and Found, Free to Good Home, and For Sale. Post an ad on Kijiji and make use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Post ads on other lost pet sites such as Helping Lost Pets.
4. Create and distribute a lost cat poster. For more information on how to create an effective poster, please check out the Missing Pet Partnership's website. You can also create a free poster on Helping Lost Pets.
5. Make index cards with the same information as above and go to every home, in every direction from the site of where your cat disappeared. Give people a card, slide cards under doors and place them on windshields. Stop and speak with every person you encounter - the more people who know about your lost cat, the more likely the person who spots him will call you.
6. Place his/her litter outside with his or her favorite food and fresh water and even some familiar clothing or yours. If you can make use of a baby monitor, leave on it your porch. Search at NIGHT and at DAWN. Animals move at those times. Bring a flashlight, some treats, articles and items with your pet's scent on it. Call your pet's name gently.
7. Ask people to check their garages, under decks, in barns, and sheds especially at night. Look in trees and on roofs.
8. Put a LOST CAT sign on your lawn. Also, place signs at some major intersections in the area.
9. Tag your car with Neon Car Glass Markers. Tape a photo of your pet to your car’s back window. See Missing Pet Partnership’s website for detailed information on tagging your car.
10. Call all surrounding animal shelters and animal control offices, local kennels, grooming shops, veterinary clinics to get the word out. Include those outside your local area as sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic.
11. Visit all local animal shelters. Do not rely on their information, go in and look at all cats DAILY. Email a picture to your local shelter so that they have on file and can compare with animals they receive.
Even the friendliest and most social pets may quickly become terrified and wild. Your own friendly cat, when lost may hide from people and run away. He may even run away from you. Don't chase after a lost cat - they are much faster and you will only scare them more. Instead, sit on the ground, talk in normal tones repeating his name and familiar phrases over and over again. Even a frightened, hungry animal will usually stick around, and after a few minutes or hours, come closer and closer.
You may need to rent or purchase a humane live trap to capture a terrified lost pet. Local animal shelters often rent or loan these.
Most importantly, DON'T GIVE UP! Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away - don't wait a few hours "to see if he'll come home on his own." You will need those first few hours to inform as many people as possible.
If you go to the Ottawa Humane Society website, you can also now browse through *most* of the stray cats that have been admitted to the Ottawa Humane Society. Here is the link: http://www.ottawahumane.ca/services/lost-and-found/ottawa-lost-cats/ The pictures are usually posted within 24 hours of admission, and the site is updated frequently. Please note that NOT ALL cats are posted, and you should still visit the shelter every 2-3 days.
Lost Indoor-Only Cats:
If your indoor-only cat has escaped outside there is good news - your cat is probably not lost at all! That is because it is likely that your cat is hiding and depending upon the terrain, may be closer than you think! When an indoor-only cat escapes, it is a case of where is the cat likely hiding (usually near the escape point) in fear. This is because cats are territorial and your cat's territory is the inside of your home. Once a cat is transplanted into unfamiliar territory, it seeks shelter because it is afraid. A cat that is afraid (and cats that are injured) will seek areas of concealment such as under a deck, house, porch, or in heavy brush and they will usually not meow. Meowing would give up their location to a predator. It has nothing to do with whether the cat loves you, whether it recognizes your voice, or whether it can smell you--it has everything to do with the fact that a frightened cat will hide and be silent.
To read an encouraging story about how a cat that was displaced for over five months and was recovered due to Missing Pet Partnership advice, a wildlife camera, and humane traps, read the Li’l Miss Kitty Story.
Displaced Outdoor-Access Cats:
If you’ve lost a cat that is allowed outdoors part-time or for brief periods of time and he/she has vanished, then it is possible that he/she is not missing but is hiding in fear. That’s because even outdoor-access cats can become displaced. Here’s how it works. A cat can become “displaced” into unfamiliar territory when he/she is chased off (beaten up by another cat, chased by a dog, etc.) and he/she ends up in a yard or area that is total foreign to him/her. We’ve had many cases where cats that were “lost” were actually only five houses away or a block away, hiding inside a neighbor’s yard in fear because they were disoriented and unable (or unwilling because of fear) to return home.
The majority of cases of displacement involve indoor-only cats who’ve accidentally escaped outdoors. However, any cat will be displaced when they escape from their carrier while at the vet’s office, escape from an RV while traveling on vacation, or escape from a vehicle during a car accident. In cases of displacement, even though the cat is technically an “outdoor-access cat,” it is a DISPLACED CAT when it ends up in an area that is unfamiliar. A cat’s individual temperament can range anywhere from a bold “clown-like” cat to the other end of the spectrum which is a catatonic “feral-like” cat. This temperament will influence how far he/she will travel and whether or not he/she will respond to human contact. Recovery techniques should be geared around a missing cat’s unique, individual temperament. If he or she is skittish, he/she will more likely be nearby hiding in fear and you’ll need to use a humane trap to recover him/her. If he or she is gregarious, he/she could easily travel several blocks (even a mile or two) and you’ll need to knock on doors and post fluorescent posters at major intersections in the area. Be sure to visit the Missing Pet Partnership's Displaced Cat Behavior page for more information on the topic of displaced cat behaviors.
Lost Outdoor-Access Cats:
When an outdoor-access cat disappears, it means that something has happened to the cat to interrupt its usual behavior of returning home. Cats are territorial and they do not just run away from home (like dogs do). Thus the tactics and techniques used to search for a missing cat should be different than those used to search for a missing dog.
Lost cat posters will not always help find your cat if it has crawled under your neighbor's deck, possibly injured and silent. If your outdoor cat is missing, consider that it may be up a tree, on a roof, under a house or inside a neighbor's basement or shed. This would mean that your cat would likely be within its normal territory, usually a 5-house radius of your home. It is imperative that you first obtain permission from your neighbour to enter their yard so that you can look for your cat.
Sometimes cats are chased from their territory either by dogs, people, or other cats fighting over territory. Some cats are frightened by fireworks and will often become "displaced" in unfamiliar territory. Once their adrenaline levels have subsided, they will work their way back home, often showing up the next day or a few days later. But many of these cats, especially those with skittish temperaments, will be so panicked by the experience that they will hide in fear and be too afraid to return home. Some even start acting like a feral cat and become afraid of their owners.
More info available at catsinthebag.org