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Animals 2018, 8(1), 5;

Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found

Gatton Campus, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4343, Australia
Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, Queensland 4069, Australia
Jemora Pty Ltd., Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia
Missing Pet Partnership, Cloverdale, CA 6105, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 November 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
PDF [1842 KB, uploaded 23 January 2018]

Simple Summary

A least 15% of cat owners lose their pet in a five-year period and some are never found. This paper reports on data gathered from an online questionnaire that asked questions regarding search methods used to locate missing cats and locations where missing cats were found. The most important finding from this retrospective case series was that approximately one third of cats were recovered within 7 days. Secondly, a physical search increased the chances of finding cats alive and 75% of cats were found within a 500 m radius of their point of escape. Thirdly, those cats that were indoor-outdoor and allowed outside unsupervised traveled longer distances compared with indoor cats that were never allowed outside. Lastly, cats considered to be highly curious in nature were more likely to be found inside someone else’s house compared to other personality types. These findings suggest that a physical search within the first week of a cat going missing could be a useful strategy. In light of these findings, further research into this field may show whether programs such as shelter, neuter and return would improve the chances of owners searching and finding their missing cats as well as decreasing euthanasia rates in shelters.


Missing pet cats are often not found by their owners, with many being euthanized at shelters. This study aimed to describe times that lost cats were missing for, search methods associated with their recovery, locations where found and distances travelled. A retrospective case series was conducted where self-selected participants whose cat had gone missing provided data in an online questionnaire. Of the 1210 study cats, only 61% were found within one year, with 34% recovered alive by the owner within 7 days. Few cats were found alive after 90 days. There was evidence that physical searching increased the chance of finding the cat alive (p = 0.073), and 75% of cats were found within 500 m of the point of escape. Up to 75% of cats with outdoor access traveled 1609 m, further than the distance traveled by indoor-only cats (137 m; p ≤ 0.001). Cats considered to be highly curious were more likely to be found inside someone else’s house compared to other personality types. These findings suggest that thorough physical searching is a useful strategy, and should be conducted within the first week after cats go missing. They also support further investigation into whether shelter, neuter and return programs improve the chance of owners recovering missing cats and decrease numbers of cats euthanized in shelters. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat; pet; missing; lost; search; SNR; questionnaire cat; pet; missing; lost; search; SNR; questionnaire

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Huang, L.; Coradini, M.; Rand, J.; Morton, J.; Albrecht, K.; Wasson, B.; Robertson, D. Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found. Animals 2018, 8, 5.

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