Where to look for an indoor cat that has gotten out or gone missing

Where to look for an indoor cat that has gotten out or gone missing


Searching for a lost cat that isn’t used to being outside can be very worrying, and the whole process can be stressful and distressing; it is easy to start hearing things that aren’t there, or get a massive rush of hope because your torch picks up eyes, only to find that they belong to another local cat not yours.

Patience and the ability to remain a little detached and keep your calm is vital to finding an indoor cat that has gotten out. Looking in the right places (which might not be the same places that an outdoor cat would head for) is vital too; and this article will tell you where to look for an indoor cat that has gotten out. Read on to learn more.

Look at the world from ground level

Cats as a species like to be high up; they like trees outside, and feel safer when they are off the ground and so out of reach of many predators and also, are able to get a good view around them to see what is happening and spot potential food and threats alike.

However, when it comes to an indoor cat that has got out unexpectedly or that is outside for the first time, they won’t seek high space at first; even if within the home they like to be up high.

This means that looking at the world from ground level and viewing it how your cat sees it is the key to spotting potential hiding places they might use, or routes they may have taken. Think behind the wheel of a parked car, in a low cupboard (like a meter cupboard) in an empty cardboard box, or behind or under a bin; those are the sorts of places that an indoor cat that has got out is likely to look for to seek shelter.

Cats are well camouflaged outside

Cats (even ones with distinctive coats) are naturally quite good at blending in with their environment, even those that have never had to do this before and have never been outside.

They keep close to the ground, avoid open space, move quickly from point to point when they have to move, and can stay very still for long periods of time to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

This means that when you’re looking for your cat, you have to actively look; look properly and slowly, as just skimming an area with your eyes or looking for an obvious cat-sized shape is likely to prove ineffective.

Also, if you’re concentrating and looking hard, it is important to stop and take regular breaks for your eyes to refocus so that you don’t become so narrowly focused on what you’re looking for that you’d run the risk of spotting it if you saw it.

Search at dusk and when it gets dark

Cats are far more likely to make themselves visible from dusk and into the night than they are during the day. There are a number of reasons for this, including that the cat’s eyesight is far more acute at night and so they can focus better, places are less busy and so feel less daunting and dangerous, and your cat is more likely to come to you if they hear or see you.

Also, if you use a torch to shine into undergrowth and hedges, you’d be far more likely to see your cat’s eyes reflected back than trying to look in the same sorts of places in daylight.

Call your cat and hang around for long enough to let them make a choice

Calling your cat can help to let them know that you are there and also encourage them to come to you even if they were too scared to come out on their own. However, often when people look for a lost cat they tend to call while walking; and even if moving slowly, doing this won’t give the cat enough time to necessarily decide to come to you; or they might have started to make a move but you in turn had moved a bit further away than the cat was comfortable with going.

When you call your cat you need to give them enough time to hear you, make a decision and respond to you, and this can make a search painstakingly slow. But this is more effective and more likely to result in you finding your cat that trying to cover as much space as fast as possible.

Try to keep within one audible area for a half hour before moving on and trying another spot.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled

Your cat could be quite close by but unwilling to come out, and so keeping your eyes and ears peeled is vital. As well as calling, stop and listen regularly, for a tiny meow or a rustling sound, or other signs.

Don’t bring friends with you or ask others to look if your cat doesn’t know them well and like them

You might think the more people looking for your cat the better, but unless your cat is very outgoing with people or knows and likes the people in question, this might actually deter them from coming out. Don’t take someone with you when looking unless the cat knows them or you feel confident the cat would approach them.

Take food and treats

After an indoor cat has been out a while they will be hungry, and taking food or treats can encourage your cat to come to you at the best of times, and might be enough to make them brave enough to come out if they might not otherwise have done.

Always have your cat carrier by your side

Finally, always have your cat carrier with you when searching; don’t leave it in the car or elsewhere even if that is really close by. You would not want to miss the chance to get your cat or risk them struggling and running off if you picked them up but had nowhere to secure them.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale