I’ve lost a CAT

The cat I’m caring for has escaped the fenced backyard when I stepped away. He’s mainly an indoor kitty but sometimes is in the backyard with his moms. Friends and I and the dog have searched all around immediate neighborhood. Shelters and vet are notified. Have any of you lost a host’s cat? What did you do if it was not found? I feel horrible about this. I’ve notified the hosts and they’re considering ending their trip early because of this. What further obligation do I have or what other ways can I help make this right if he doesn’t return? I’m heading out to knock on neighbor doors now to ask them to search their yards and garages. They’ve had their cat for 9 years and this is a big loss for them.

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Hi @KM2018. Oh my goodness. That’s terribly unfortunate. You’ve done all you can I’d say.
Not sure what else you can do? Have you tried calling his name and shaking the cat biscuit jar/tub whatever?

Free roaming cats to sit always make me nervous - so far all have returned as expected. Maybe leaving some treats out, although depending on where you are, that may just attract other cats which could scare your charge away.
Are you in a city?
Good luck.

So so sorry for you, that must be a nightmare. I have read on numerous occasions to put the litter tray or something else smelling of the cat outside, so that he can find his way home. I am sure he’ll be back….in time for a meal hopefully. Best of luck


Put a post up in local FB groups, with a picture of the cat: “anybody seen this kittie?”
Also in local “pets lost” groups.

Good luck!

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Oh no! -I feel so bad for you - it is every sitters constant concern!

The closest we had to your situation was that we once had an outside cat that did not come home when expected which was such a worry. I spent hours in the garden shaking his treat tin. After him being missing for almost 24 hours I decided that I would have to call the owners for advice and low and behold, whilst I was on the phone to them he strolled in as if nothing had happened!!

How long has your cat been missing? hopefully, you may find that as long as no one else feeds him, he will come home when hungry.

I think everyone on this forum now has their fingers crossed for you :heart:


Does it have any kind of cat bedding (one of those cuddlers, or a tunnel etc.) that you could put outside? Are you certain he could out of the backyard and didn’t just get locked into the garage by accident? We’ve had countless neighbors say their cat was lost and it would turn up in a neighbor’s garage a day or so later.
Fingers crossed that he comes back later, safe and sound.

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Keep searching. Take food with you.

Look behind outdoor bins, under cars, ask neighbours to check garages and sheds in case the cat has hidden there and got trapped.

Our cat once got spooked by a tradesman, ran away for a week and I found her hiding in a neighbour’s front garden, so all hope is not lost. Keep searching.

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I think I read somewhere that you should put the litter out, the kitty will smell it from some distance. We have also been in this situation (indoor kitty with access to a fenced yard) but it makes me feel anxious and I feel I need to watch 100% of the time. It has also happened that we closed the kitties inside for 1-2 days at the start of the sit (so they get used to us) - or put collars on them so they are easily identifiable. I always take a careful look at posters of missing cats and I have found some by accident, but a collar makes it a thousand times easier. We have also been thinking about using airtags in the future (e.g. we sometimes sit for a dog who has become a bit of an escape artist and the owners have been looking for him for hours at times). It sounds like you have been doing all the right things and I hope that the kitty will come home soon.


This is the advice I’ve been given for a lost cat in the US:

Cats rarely stray more than a few houses in any direction (assuming you are in a built-up area). It will be easier to find him at night with a flashlight. Search under cars, hedges, along fences, etc. Shake a treat bag if that normally entices him

If you have them, leave out some of the owners’ unwashed clothes to attract the cat.

Put up fliers, post on social media (Nextdoor, Facebook, Pawboost, Petharbor).

Set a trap ASAP with smelly food - sardines work well.

Do not leave the litter box as it might attract other predators (or another cat) and scare the cat away. Kitty Litter Myth - Missing Animal Response Network

If you can leave a door or window in the house cracked open, the cat will likely return.

There may be pet detectives with sniffer dogs that can help.

Good luck.


On my last sit, one of their cats disappeared right before I arrived. They were worried sick. I was there for 10 days and called to him every day… I heard meowing one night and ran out barefoot in my nightshirt… but then it went silent. They asked me to sprinkle his litter so I did, up and down the road both ways. I think he was in the vicinity the whole time because as soon as I left, he came back. Cats are smart. Keep trying and reassure the owners that you’re doing all you can.


I have a feeling the cat will return. Sounds like you have done a good job of searching but cats are cats. They will return on their schedule not yours! They hide and it’s about impossible to find them. Sometimes I think they slip into other dimensions lol


Oh, the cat’s “brother” is the family dog. :blush:

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All your replies are VERY VERY appreciated and confirm all the strategies I’m trying are appropriate. The cat’s “brother“ and I are heading out again this morning to search. There are SO SO many hiding places in this neighborhood, which is an extreme challenge. I thought he had been warming up to me pretty well during the first 4 days so I’m disappointed he took off, something the owners say he NEVER does. This was a big lesson learned for me. Sadly I cannot take my elderly mother with me on sits anymore. She requires a lot of my support and in the minutes my attention was turned to her in the house rather than the cat in the yard, my nightmare ensued. Thank you, colleagues for your guidance!


Gosh completley feel for you.
If it helps we had our own cat who would regularly go missing. It once even escaped its cat basket outside the vets on a busy road! After days we thought we’d never find him but we did!.
What we did learn was to look for him at dawn & dusk when it was quieter. We’d whistle him & call his name & then be quiet to listen to his meeowing.
The dawn & dusk is relevant because he must have been in the same place through the day but didnt show himself.
Great advice from others too, food, shaking a box of biscuits & cat litter.
Such good luck.

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Keep walking the neighbourhood multiple times calling his name and especially when it’s dark. I brought my Mum and her 2 cats to live me in Canada from England, 3 days after they arrived I took one cat out on a leash into the back garden. ( they were used to going outside and this was one was desperate to get outside.) He slipped out of the leash and disappeared from sight. On the 3rd night of searching I had given up hope, it was pouring down with rain and as I was within sight of my house I heard him behind me. As he followed me I kept saying his name…and I scooped him up.
Good luck.

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Likely, he is in the neighborhood. If he is food obsessed go outside and shake his food or tap on his plate, open a can of tuna if he smells it he will come around if he is close. Walk all around the house, look under cars, in bushes, etc. Be sure to leave a gate open so he can get back in.

Do not be so hard on yourselves. Any owner that lets a cat out in a fenced yard, ought to know cats can climb fences. You have done everything I can think of. Best of luck!!!


Let us all know when the cat shows up! I hope he does!

I so feel for you!! When I do an outside cat sit, I’m always nervous too and surprised when the owners tell me "OH he can disappear for a few days… ".

I know this won’t help now, but here is a tip I started doing to help me feel more confident on outdoor cat sits. I take an AIRTAG with a pet collar attachment and add it to the cat’s collar when I let it out. That way, I can keep track on how far they roam from home. It really helps calm my concerns about outdoor cats under my care.


@KM2018 I’m so sorry … we have been reading and watching this thread and thank you members for the support and encouragement you have given, it is an awful feeling I know and as others have said he is likely to still be in the area.

I’m sure you have searched on line for helpful information and advice and apologies if you have already seen the one I have added.

My grand cat was missing for 4 months … she was found by a stranger and quite by chance just a 10 min walk from her last home.

Good luck, stay strong and know you are not alone in this.


At our last housesit, one of the cats had just returned home after being missing for a month. He was quite needy with the owners for a few days afterwards, unusual as he is normally a very independent cat who isn’t into being fussed at all. Where he went remains a mystery. During the weekend sit he was the cat who spent most time in the house, which was a relief. The other cat ate and ran.

It would be so easy for an indoor/outdoor cat to go missing while being cared for by any of us sitters. I’m really hoping you soon have good news of his return to share with us.