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Missing Cat Found – But Finders Won’t Return (What Now?)

If your cat has been found but the finder won’t return it you may be wondering what you can do, how you can prove it, and how you can avoid losing your cat again.

How can you prove a cat is yours?

If you have chipped your cat it is quite easy to prove ownership. Failing that you can rely on an ID tag. The problem with ID tags is they can easily be removed or replaced. Making it difficult to prove. 

So, now you know how you can prove the cat is yours. But, what do you do if the founder still refuses? Could your cat just find its own way home? What is a displaced cat? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more.

What can you do if a finder won’t return your cat?

If your cat has disappeared and you have found it, but the finder refuses to give it back. First, make sure you have given adequate proof that it is yours, such as the record of your name associated with the chip in your cat. Or, an ID tag.

If you have done this already and the finder still refuses then you will need to take it further. In particular, involving the police or a legal representative. Hopefully, it won’t get to that but it may be the only way to resolve this disagreement.

What should you do when your cat is missing?

Missing cat found, but finders won't return.

Missing cat poster.

If your cat is missing you (Do they miss their owner if they are given away? Click here) need to track it down as soon as possible. The longer you leave it is the harder it gets. If it is microchipped get in touch with the provider right away. They should place a note on the file that it is lost.

Local Canvassing

Beyond that you can do simple things locally such as speaking to your neighbors (What if your cat is with your neighbor though? Click here), putting up leaflets, contacting your vet, etc. It is surprising what might happen and it could just be a simple call or visit away.

Going Broader

If you have tried all of this and are still stuck you need to broaden your search. This includes contacting your vet, checking cat shelters or homes, or online portals for lost cats. These are just a few ideas, any extra you can think of will help.

What do cats do when they are lost?

Depending on the situation it could be several things. If your cat is an indoor cat that escaped (more on this later) it could just be genuinely lost and hoping to find its way home. If it’s injured or scared though it could be hiding in silence.

Hiding in silence

If this is the case, meaning your cat is injured or scared it could be close by but laying low. For example, it could be hiding under your neighbor’s decking, in a local shed, etc. The key issue is they won’t call out, they will be silent.

This is because whatever hurt or scared them will make them worried about revealing their location. Which makes it hard for you to locate it.

Can cats find their way home if lost?

Cats can find their way home. And, there have been some remarkable stories of cats moving home and finding their old home many miles away. But, this is not always the case. Most cats will stay within their comfort zone.

If they get scared off, outside of this comfort zone, it becomes difficult for them to find their way back home. And, they may become confused, scared and the situation just gets worse.

How likely is it to find a missing cat?

According to a study done back in 2012, it appears that 74% of lost cats were found. Which suggests that there is quite a high chance that your cat can be found. However, this number could be a lot higher if more cat owners had ID on their cats.

Once your cat has been lost you will likely be worried and think that you may never see your cat again, right? Well, although it’s impossible to say for sure what will happen with your cat, the statistics suggest you have a high chance, especially if you use ID.

What to do when your cat comes home after being missing?

If your cat was missing and returned home safely the work is not done yet. You need to check your cat to make sure there are no injuries or problems. This is not always easy to see so a check over from your vet is the best idea.

Also, it is tempting to overfeed your cat on its return because you assume it is hungry. But, until it is checked over it is better to feed them cautiously. Obviously, they need to eat but do not overdo it.

Do missing cats usually come back?

Most missing cats do return. But, the more effort you put in will drastically increase your chances of getting it back. There are many cases where people believe their cat is missing but is later found in their home somewhere. So, it’s worth checking at home thoroughly first.

You may have heard that most cats come back and assumed that if you wait they will come back. This does not always happen. And, I remember from personal experience this not happening for me when I lost a cat that, to this day, never returned. I am not sure if it was stolen or got injured.

What is a displaced cat?

A displaced cat is a cat that can’t be found by its owner but is generally on their premises somewhere, or in some local location that is not known to the cat. This is typically associated with indoor cats but it doesn’t always have to be.

If you can’t find your indoor cat and freaking out it is easy to assume it is lost. However, now you have learned that there is a chance it is simply displaced, rather than lost.

What should you do if your indoor cat escapes?

If you have seen your indoor cat escape from your door the best thing to do is follow it. But, be careful, do not be tempted to shout after it, it could just spook it and make it run off for good. Also, the outside noises and lights may confuse and scare it.

If you are lucky and get it in your sights in a calm area offer your hand to your cat, without shouting, call it calmly in a friendly manner. If you are lucky it may just run back into your arms.

What is a displaced, outdoor-access cat?

A displaced outdoor cat is when an outdoor cat is taken out of its comfort zone. Meaning, for example, it is scared by a local cat or another animal, and then it runs off to a place that it is unfamiliar with. This means the cat gets displaced rather than being officially lost.

If you have an outdoor cat that you feel has been lost you may find out that it is classed as being displaced rather than lost. Hopefully, it will return on its own. But, as discussed earlier, it’s better to not wait for that and get looking as soon as possible.

How can you increase your chances of finding your lost cat?

The best way to increase your chances of finding your cat is to make sure it is clearly identified. This can be a cat collar with a tag (Click here to see my best secure cat collars), a microchip, etc.

Basically, any way that you can make it easy for the finder to identify your cat will increase your chances of getting your cat back.

Lindsey Browlingdon