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A cat going missing can be one of the most stressful and heart-breaking things you can experience as a cat mom. This distress will likely be worse if you own a house cat. Indoor cats aren’t used to the outside world! Besides, you’re always used to always knowing exactly where they are.
Thankfully, cats are often found near your home when they go missing; something most likely caused them to panic, so they went into survival mode and found somewhere to hide. This actually happened to me quite recently, and my furry friend was found four houses down hidden under a hedge!
But what about an indoor cat missing for 24 hours? Should you keep looking after this long, or would it be better to assume the worst? I am going to try and answer these questions and more! So read on to find out why they may have gone missing, how long they will be able to survive, and for some top tips on how to bring them home safely.
Why Do Indoor Cats Go Missing?
Has your indoor cat managed to escape outside? Have they been gone for at least a day? It’s unusual for an indoor cat to go missing for more than 24 hours. They won’t have any hunting experience and wouldn’t usually venture far from their territory (in this case, your home).
Therefore, there is likely an underlying cause behind their absence. So, what could be causing this long absence? Are they purposely staying away? Read on for some likely reasons!
- They’re in Heat: Has your feline been neutered or spayed? If not, you may find that your kitty has gone missing because they’re looking for a mate. Although more common in males, males and females will travel a long way when in heat to pick up the scent of another cat.
- Sudden Changes: Cats are sensitive to any environmental change, no matter how small. If something has changed in your home recently, it could be that your kitty felt too overwhelmed and wasn’t getting the attention it needed, and therefore decided to go on a trip.
- They’re Trapped: Sometimes, when our furry friends go outside, they decide to explore somewhere new. Usually, this causes no issues, and they’ll return home when ready. But, other times, they’ll decide to go into someone’s shed and accidentally get locked inside. Thankfully, your feline should soon return home once someone notices they’re there.
- They’re Lost: Most of the time, a cat will return if you let him outside. However, cats can get lost. This is especially true when your indoor cat is scared, as the streets around your house will be unfamiliar. A frightened cat will hide, and when their fight or flight response kicks in, they will run away from the source of their fear with no regard to where they are going.
- They’re Injured: Finally, we have the worst-case scenario when a cat goes missing. When a house cat ventures out for the first time, it may not be aware of some dangers. Maybe they got into a fight with another cat or ran into traffic. The resulting injuries may mean they physically can’t make their way home.
No matter the cause behind your cat’s disappearance, do not give up hope just yet. Even though 24 hours is a long time, many cats still manage to survive for extended periods.
How Long Can an Indoor Cat Survive Outside?
Now that I’ve identified some of the reasons why your cat may be missing, I’m going to take you through some variables that will affect how long your indoor kitty can survive outside. The good news is that even for a house cat, 24 hours is still a reasonable amount of time to be outside. The bad news is they won’t have the same survival skills as an outdoor cat.
There is no guaranteed length of time that your kitty can survive outside on its own, as several variables affect this. These include whether you live near busy roads, the time of year your cat went missing, and whether your feline has been declawed.
Read on for a more detailed overview of some of the most critical factors.
1. Weather Extremes
Like us, cats can survive outside in moderate weather for a long time with very few issues whatsoever. However, the temperature may negatively affect their survival when your cat goes missing in peak summer or the middle of winter.
During winter, your kitty will need to find a warm place to shelter as freezing temperatures can put them at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. In comparison, your feline friend needs somewhere out of the sun and with a water source when temperatures are high. Unfortunately, if your cat doesn’t manage to find a suitable shelter, the amount of time they can survive in this weather is limited.
2. Local Wildlife
When out in the wild, all animals must be aware of two things: predators and prey. Cats are no different, and the types of animals in your local wildlife will significantly impact how long your kitty can survive outside alone.
In terms of prey, many small birds and rodents in your area will give your feline a greater chance of catching something for dinner. This is especially true for house cats; they have no hunting practice, so more potential prey means a higher likelihood of a full belly.
On the other hand, wild predators in your area, such as snakes, raccoons, and hawks, are likely to be aggressive towards your cat. So, the fewer of them there are, the better! Your kitty may protect themselves for a while, but eventually, they’ll meet an animal they can’t beat. A declawed cat is also disadvantaged, as they’ll have no way to defend themselves or catch their prey.
What Should I Do If My Cat Goes Missing?
It can be an incredibly stressful time when or indoor kitty goes missing. They’ve never been out in the world before, and, as we’ve seen, their survival skills will likely not be up to scratch. But don’t worry! Even indoor cats can find their way back home, and below I’m going to cover six top tips to help increase the chances of your feline friend’s safe return.
1. Check Your House Thoroughly
It can be hard to think straight when we know our indoor cat has gone missing. The dread will soon set in, and you’ll probably start thinking the worst. But before the full-on panic starts, ensure to check your house thoroughly. Your feline friend might be curled up somewhere in a dark corner, as this is likely true for indoor cats.
Cats are exceptional when it comes to hide and seek, so try to put yourself in your cat’s shoes: cupboards, garbage cans, sheds, and hedges can all seem like an ideal hiding spot for your kitty to curl up in for hours at a time. My cat often sleeps on top of my closet, and unless I actively look, I can never tell she’s there. So, search high and low, both inside and in your garden.
2. Ask Your Neighbors
If you’ve turned your home upside down and your furry friend is still nowhere to be seen, the next step would be asking your neighbors if they’ve seen your cat recently. Their homes and gardens will have some great hiding places as well!
And, even if they haven’t seen your kitty, being aware that they’re missing will increase the chances of contacting you if your feline is spotted in the future.
3. Lure Your Cat Back
Trying to lure your cat back home with their favorite food, treats, and toys is the next best step if your searches have turned up empty. It can also be the ideal solution if you’re wondering how to get a cat to come home at night – for many owners, their first night apart is when the dread starts to set in!
Cats can smell their way home, so placing bowls in multiple places around your home will increase the chance of your kitty smelling the food and coming home for a snack! But be warned, this may also attract other unwanted wildlife. You don’t want to attract predators or other cats to your garden, as this could deter your cat from returning – so put food out with caution.
When luring your cat back in, keeping an eye on the food is also essential; your feline may come for some food and leave again. You don’t want to miss her! I’d also recommend putting out a camera or baby monitor to keep track while you’re asleep – cats often come home at night when it is quiet.
4. Contact Necessary Organizations
Many organizations can help you when your cat goes missing, so utilize them! Call any nearby vets or shelters and see if they have had any lost cats brought in lately. Someone may have already found your feline and handed them in. And even if they haven’t, they’ll know to give you a call if anyone brings in a cat matching your description.
There are also tons of websites online where people can report a missing or found kitty so that they can be reunited with their owners. So, reach out to as many as you can to up your chances of finding your furry friend.
5. Inform the Local Community
Although an indoor cat is likely to stay close to your neighborhood, your cat may have traveled a great distance. Those living further afield from you may have a higher chance of spotting your feline at this point. Therefore, informing your local community your cat is missing is essential in gaining their help.
Putting up missing cat flyers around your neighborhood or posting to a community page on social media are great ways to spread the word to those who live nearby. Including a recent photo, a description of any distinguishable features your kitty has, and the area where they were last seen can also go a long way in your feline being recognized.
6. Don’t Give Up!
Finally, the most important thing when searching for your kitty: don’t give up! Unfortunately, people often abandon hope when their indoor cat has been missing for two days or more as they start thinking the worst. I know it’s hard, but you need to try and persevere. Your chances of finding your kitty will increase with the number of ways you try to locate them, so make sure to try all my top tips!
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, is your indoor cat missing for 24 hours or more? Should you keep looking for them? Or is it better to give up when your kitty has been gone for so long? It can be very stressful when our feline friends don’t come home, especially when they’re generally not allowed outside, but don’t give up!
Although it can be challenging for cats to survive outdoors for long periods, there is still a high chance that your feline will be returned home safe and sound. Following my top tips will hopefully aid you in this and give you the best chance of bringing your kitty home safely.
Working out the cause behind your cat’s extended absence can help prevent your kitty from going missing in the future. Microchipping your cat, having them spayed or neutered, and giving them a collar with your contact details are three potential ways to ensure your feline’s safety. And trying to find the spot where your house cat escaped is also a good idea.
If you decide to let your kitty roam outdoors in the future, I’d also recommend investing in microchip cat flaps. These are better than regular cat flaps as they only open for your kitty. A timer function also means you can keep your cat inside at night when they are more likely to explore, all of which will keep your feline safer!