What To Do If Your Indoor Cat Gets Outside

For an indoor cat that has never traveled outdoors, it’s very scary to think about your cat going missing. Cats are naturally skittish by nature, so an indoor cat that gets lost outdoors is typically terrified and doesn’t have the first clue where to go or what to do. Often times a cat’s curiosity will get the best of them, and that open door that looks too tempting to resist can equal disaster after your indoor cat quickly finds themselves lost and all alone.

Here are some helpful tips to follow if your indoor cat gets outside, and we hope by following these you can get them home sooner rather than later.

Check The Outside Areas Around Your Home In A Calm Manner

This one probably goes without saying, but if a cat find themselves outside, the first place you should think to look is in the bushes around your home should you have any. Remember: even though it might have seemed like the best idea ever, you’re curious kitty probably realized it was a bold–not to mention dangerous–move once they did it. Your cat knows they are safest when they are with you, even if they didn’t realize it until they found themselves outdoors. This is why retreating in the bushes where they are hidden from plain sight is the best place to start looking.

Do your best to remain calm despite the alarming situation. Yelling or shouting their name or calling for them at the top of your lungs will only prove to scare your already frightened cat even more. Try your best to use the tone of voice you would should you be calling them just as you would if they were inside your home.

Important: In case you didn’t already know, cats are crepuscular creatures–meaning that they are most active at dawn and at dusk. In the wild, this is when cats will do their hunting. Try searching for your cat during these times of the day to increase your chances of finding them.

Get That Food Bag And Some Strong Smelling Canned/Wet Food

You may attract all the cats in the neighborhood by doing this, but one of those cats just might be yours if you’re lucky! Get that food bag out and shake it, open a can of canned cat food (the fishier the better!) and start stirring it up outdoors while sweetly calling for your cat. Hopefully they are hungry and come running at the tempting aromas of their favorite food!

Put Your Scent Outside — Hopefully This Will Help To Bring Them Home

Cats have a strong sense of smell. Take an article of clothing you’ve worn, or perhaps a blanket that you’ve used recently and set it outside. This scent may trigger him/her to come back home should they catch a whiff of it. Another good idea is to set their litter box outside near the door. An indoor cat that is not familiar with the outdoors might be hesitant on doing her business outside without her usual privacy. It might seem like a longshot, but nothing is too out of the ordinary when it comes to getting your indoor cat back inside safely.

Let Others Know Your Indoor Cat is Lost

In the event that your indoor cat that has gotten out is not nearby, you’ll need to alert others in your area that your cat is lost. You can do this by posting signs around your area with a photo and detailed information about your cat. The next step would be to tell your neighbors who live on your street.

Visit Your Local Shelters

If your cat is microchipped, there is a much greater chance of them getting their happy ending with you. Any time a shelter receives a lost cat, they will scan for a microchip. (Vet offices also do this for animals that come into their care that are brought in.) Should your cat be chipped, you will be alerted via the contact info listed on their records. It’s always important to make sure that your cat has the correct and current information on their microchip record. If your cat is not microchipped, it’s still important to go in and check your shelters for your last cat. Most cats turned in have a short waiting period before they are deemed adoptable; you don’t want to miss your opportunity to reunite with your lost cat.

Also, if your cat is microchipped, you can set an alert on their profile, allowing shelters and rescues to know that they are missing. This key step might help them to get home sooner should your indoor cat go missing.

REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!

The ads on this site allow us to raise the necessary funds to continue helping cats in need.

Thank you FUR your support!

Check out the Cole & Marmalade store! -- CLICK HERE

12 Comments

  1. Thank you, putting those tips in one place is very useful. It’s always good to know that.
    One of my twitter friend’s friend lost track of his cat, Huxley, in Tonbridge Wells, Kent. They have quite a bad weather there atm so that doubles the worry 🙁 I hope he will soon be back ♥

  2. He won’t go far. He will be scared, so he will find a spot to hide. So, hiding places near the home he escaped are an excellent start.

  3. Work with a local trapper to set a humane trap as soon as possible. The sooner you do this the better. Set the trap on your property. Then if you get sightings from another area such as your neighbors yard, set one there.

  4. Please monitor litter box and food carefully if outside. Many other sources indicate these two things will attract other cats that consider the area “their” territory – and chase your cat away. Both those things will also attract predators – another reason to keep an eye out. One of the best things you can do is leave the dirty clothes at house door and leave door cracked so they can come in on own. If you are sleeping at midnight and the cat comes to the door, you would never know! Also, mackerel, warm roast chicken, and even bacon smell great to a cat. Try those. Also try using flashlight at night to locate eyes in dark and shaking treat bag if kitty will come to that sound. Post large sign in your yard too. Fliers to neighbors ASAP.

  5. Putting the cat’s litter box outside has shown itself to be a remarkably successful method of reuniting cat with owner. That sense of smell mentioned in story can identify the litter box from as much as a mile away, according to reports.

  6. Very good advice, though I’ve also read that putting the litter box outside is not a good idea.
    I wish I knew the secret to get people to keep their cats indoors-only! In many places people allow their cats to go out, which is potentially very dangerous no matter where you live. Don’t do it. Keep them in and safe, people!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing these tricks. When my Ms. Kitty got out, I used the snack container to shake and after a few moments she came out from under the bushes. Every little trick helps. Thank you again.

  8. Never, ever put the litter box outside! Cat’s bury their waste to hide from predators. Why on earth would you announce to every predator around to come to your house? Worst advice ever. Can’t believe people keep sharing this. SMH.

    • Deb, I do not agree with you at all. This isn’t saying to KEEP your litter box outside which would be an announcement to the predators…it’s when your cat get’s out to try to lure them home. They can smell their litter / scent up to a mile away and be drawn back to it. Can’t imagine someone who’d lost their cat wouldn’t want to draw it home. =/

  9. Firstly, thank you for advising actions a cat owner can use to bring their indoor cat safely home. As a rescuer in an urban location which is being heavily developed, the encroachment by coyotes and fox into our neighborhoods has now made it way too dangerous for a lost cat’s litter box to be used as a tool to encourage the cat’s return as it has, instead, become an invitation to predators. Many of our rescue organizations and trackers for missing pets are now trying our best to reach out to revising advice by excluding the litter box lure for the return of their cat. Hopefully, our warnings will continue to be heeded.

Written by Modi Ramos

Cat lover since birth. Keeper of Mr. Purple and Tom Brady Kitty. I've never met a cat I didn't like.

What do you think?

6 points
Upvote Downvote

Trapper Asked To Help Catch A Stray Cat; Who Just Happens To Look Like A Wolf!

Black Cat Dumped On The Cold Boston Streets; Rescued Only A Week Before Giving Birth!