There are few things more heartbreaking for cat owners than when their dearly loved pet goes missing. Numerous cats are lost every year and sadly, few are reunited with their original owners. Cats are lost for many reasons and it must be equally traumatic for a cat to find itself lost and suddenly a stray, foraging for food and shelter. Unless your cat is an indoor cat it is not really possible to completely ensure that he will not wander or be stolen but here are a few tips to minimise the risk of this happening to your cat:
- Be sure that your cat wears a safe collar with an identity disc firmly attached, clearly printed with your name and phone number. Make sure that it is neither too tight nor too loose. If too loose the cat can get its front leg caught in it causing distress and possible injury.
- Always keep your cat in at night and, if you have a cat flap make sure it is locked for the night. Cats frequently go missing when left out at night and are often the victims of road traffic accidents. If you experience difficulty in getting him in, do not allow him out after his evening meal - he will soon become accustomed to a fixed routine, settling down happily for the night.
- Have your cat neutered. Neutered cats, both male and female, are far less likely to roam.
- When transporting cats always use a secure pet carrier. It is asking for trouble to carry your cat, no matter how docile, in your arms. A cardboard box is also inappropriate - a frightened cat will easily find a way out. A surprising number of cats are lost going to or from the vet surgery.
- If you are going to be away for more than a day or two and unless a responsible member if the family will be in the house, book your cat into a reputable cattery. Your vet, will probably have boarding kennels or be able to advise you. Make the booking in good time and be sure that vaccinations are up to date. It is not advisable to ask a friend to come in and feed your cat during your absence. He does not know that your absence is temporary and will often go looking for you or other human company, go too far and get lost, be stolen or be the victim of an accident. This is very traumatic for your friend, for you and particularly for your cat. We get numerous calls every holiday time saying "when we returned our cat was missing."
- If there is no one at home for long periods on a daily basis, be sure your cat is not left without access to the house where he has his bed, food and water. If you live on a very busy road or if it is not a very safe area, e.g. unsupervised dogs, leave your cat indoors until you are there to supervise his forays into the garden.
- If there are workmen in the house either book your cat into a boarding kennels or ensure that it is securely locked in a room with food, water and litter tray. Cats can be very upset by strangers and noisy activity and one cannot rely on workmen to keep doors and gates closed. Don't even think about getting a new cat or kitten if there is renovation work going on or envisaged in the near future.