Relatively few lost pets are found through online posting. However, this is still an important step in some situations, especially with friendly lost cats and dogs. It can also be helpful in areas where you are unable to put up posters due to local bylaws or if the location where your pet was lost is far from your home.
There are A LOT of different lost pet databases available and many of them claim to be the “#1” company in one capacity or another. Because you never know what will bring your lost pet home, I still recommend posting your pet to at least the following online databases.
Local Online Posting Sites
Posting on local online sites is generally more effective than posting to national sites. Most lost pets, especially lost cats, are found relatively close to where they went missing.
NextDoor.com is a private, social network for your neighborhood. If your area doesn’t have a group yet, you can start your own.
Many people post their lost pets on Facebook, but most do so ineffectively. This can give them the feeling that LOTS of people know about their lost pet when most of these people live nowhere near where their pet went missing.
Start by posting to your own Facebook page if you have any friends in the area where your pet went missing. BUT don't stop there!
Share your post to local groups. You will often need to get permission to join these groups first.
- Local lost pet groups
- Local or regional community groups. Do a Facebook Groups search for anything with your town's name listed.
Also use Facebook Messenger to contact local groups and businesses asking them to share to their page. I don't recommend just sharing directly to their page because most businesses do not display these posts.
- Local Veterinarians
- Local Shelters or Rescue Groups
- Your local police and/or Animal Control Officer
- Local businesses
One of the most powerful uses of Facebook is their advertising platform. You can pay to have your post displayed to people that live within a certain radius of where your pet went missing. You can even set up your ad so that it is only shown to people that like cats and/or dogs.
If you are at all tech savvy, you can create your own boosted Facebook post. Just follow these step-by-step directions. Some companies like Find Toto and MyLostPetAlert include Facebook advertising as part of their advertising packages. Cat Finder is a good option if you just want to do Facebook advertising. Pawboost and Tabby Tracker also offer this service but their default sharing area is 10 miles, which is much too large for most lost indoor cats.
For personal safety, do NOT include your address. If you don't want to include your phone number on craigslist, consider setting up a Google Voice number or just allow people to contact you by email.
Be aware that you ARE likely to receive phishing emails if you post a Craigslist ad. Do not respond to any emails requesting personal information or asking you to click on links or provide codes.
The way people search ads on craigslist is either by scrolling through recent postings or by searching by keyword. Therefore, it is important to re-post your ad at least once a week.
When you create your ad, be sure to include "keywords" in your posting. This includes any words that you think people might use to look up your lost cat including any common misspellings and variations in town name. For example, if I lived in Northampton, I would also include Noho and North Hampton.
Recommended National Online Posting Sites
There are many national sites for posting lost and found pets, but unfortunately, most people who find a missing pe don't check them. However, some national posting sites offer useful additional services.
In general I DON'T recommend using the flyer creation services on any of these sites. Most are poorly designed and difficult to read.
PetFBI.org offers a FREE map-based search tool for posting lost and found pets.
- They share your posting to their Facebook pages for your state and town.
- You can use a link to your lost pet posting to share on your Facebook page.
- Once you create your account, you can also set up email alerts for any lost or found pets posted in your area.
PetFBI also allows you to create a flyer to share online or download. These flyers are okay, but don't use them as posters! The text is small and lacks some important information.
LostMyKitty.com (#ad) and LostMyDoggie (#ad) are a for-profit Amber Alert company. However, you can submit a FREE lost pet report on their national lost pet database. They will also create a lost pet flyer which they will email or fax to local shelters, vets, rescues groups and other animal related businesses.
While I recommend using their free alert service, this does not replace calling and/or visiting the shelters/rescues yourself. After you submit your listing, you can login and view a list of where your flyer was sent. Be sure to add email@example.com to your safe sender list or replies to your listing may end up in your spam folder.
If you can easily afford it, a phone or online amber alert can be a great extra resource to get the word out about your lost pet quickly. BUT it is NOT a replacement for posters, flyers and other local advertising.
Should You Post to Additional Lost Pet Posting Sites?
There are MANY lost pet postings sites on the internet and MORE are being added all the time. Unfortunately, most of these postings will be seen by few people. However, some will alert you to found pets in your area.
If you choose to post to these sites, be sure to check your spam folder periodically. Many sites don't allow people to directly contact you with sightings. This may be to protect your personal information or a marketing tactic. BUT the end result is that you may NOT receive sightings because the people are unable to get through or their response ends up in your spam folder.
Some postings sites also offer paid services such as phone call alerts or online advertising. Be sure to check reviews and/or the Better Business Bureau before paying for any services. Many of these paid services are not very effective and some companies are poorly run or even scams. For more information, see Amber Alerts.
Additional Sites Worth Posting
A FREE posting to their database is shared on social media sites and an alert is sent to their network of shelters, rescues, and local pet related businesses.
This is a popular site that is more well known than others. A free basic listing will be shared to their Facebook page for your state. You can search potential matches on the dashboard and/or have them emailed to you.
Expect to receive lots of emails from them. You can update your email preferences by logging into your account. I generally don't recommend their paid service because the default Facebook advertising area is 10 miles. This might make sense for some lost dogs, but is too large for most lost cats.
Low Priority Sites
These sites are less popular and don't have additional free services. Don't waste your time on them unless you've already done everything else.
Posting Sites to Avoid!
Some online posting sites and Amber Alert companies have A LOT of bad reviews or low Better Business Bureau grades. These are ones that I would avoid.
Lost and Found Pet Search Sites
Some sites will not let you post your missing pet, but you should still search their stray and adoptable pet listings. Please note that most shelters and rescues DO NOT list all of their pets online. Found pets in stray hold are often not listed, and some adoptable pets may be adopted out before someone gets the chance to list them.
You can also use PetFinder to locate local shelters and rescue groups. Then visit the Facebook pages of these groups. Some shelters will post stray/lost/found pets on Facebook before they add them to adoption sites.