When a cat is lost away from home or from an unfamiliar location, they are consider a “displaced cat”. The search strategies for a displaced cat are different than when they go missing from their own home. This is particularly true for lost outdoor-access cats. A cat may go missing from their home and still be considered displaced if they recently moved to a new home or were recently adopted.
Circumstances where a cat goes missing away from home or an unfamiliar location include:
- Accidental transport in a vehicle (e.g. cat climbs into a contractor’s van or inside a car engine)
- Escape during transport in a vehicle or airplane (e.g. jumps out car window or escapes carrier)
- Escape while visiting an unfamiliar location such as the vet’s office, a motel, a boarding facility or camper.
- Intentional disposal (e.g. when someone takes a cat and dumps them somewhere)
- A newly adopted cat, especially one with previous outdoor experience
- Any cat that goes missing after a recent move to a new home
Steps to Find a Displaced Cat
- If your cat has been missing less than 1 week, consider scheduling on-site assistance immediately. You will receive an on-site estimate once you complete a Lost Pet Form. For more information on how on-site services work, please read below. To learn how to schedule on-site assistance, click here.
- If your cat has been missing more than 1 week (or if you’re not sure you want on-site assistance), schedule a phone or email consultation. If you first purchase a consultation and later purchase on-site assistance, the cost of the consultation (up to $200) will be deducted from the on-site services fee.
- If you cannot afford a consultation or on-site assistance, check out these low cost and free lost pet resources.
How a Displaced Cat Search Works
When a cat is lost away from home or from an unfamiliar location, they are consider a “displaced cat”. Cats are most often lost away from home at the vet’s office, while on vacation, from a friend’s house or even from a new home. Occasionally a cat will be unknowingly transported away from home in or on someone’s vehicle or in a piece of furniture removed from the house. When an outdoor-access cat is lost in a strange location, they may act more like an escaped indoor-only cat.
In a displaced cat case, I provide an initial phone consultation so that you are doing everything you can to locate your cat immediately. Then I come on-site as soon as possible (often the next day) and conduct a 2-3 hour search to check out the most likely spots in the area where they might be hiding. Important: Please be aware that my search dog, Dante, is now retired. However, with over ten years of experience finding lost cats and the addition of some specialized search tools, I can conduct an effective physical search on my own. I have even found that in some cases, not using a search dog increases the chances of finding the lost cat moving around and not just hiding. Doing a physical search is most effective in the 72 hours after your cat goes missing and up to 7-10 days with some really skittish cats or those with no less outdoor experience. Coming on-site also allows me to get a much better understanding of the area where your cat is lost and the best methods to bring them home.
If your cat isn’t found during the initial search, then I coach you on how to best continue your search efforts. If you are local, then the consultation includes one return trip to assist with additional searching or moving traps/cameras. Many displaced cats will remain within 1/4 mile to 1 mile of where they went missing. However, occasionally a cat will attempt to find his way home. In most cases, I will help set-up 1-2 surveillance cameras and at least one humane trap. I also assist with the creation of highly-effective lost cat posters and flyers. Posters are often very important in helping to locate a displaced outdoor-access cat.
On-Site Services are primarily available within 25-miles of South Hadley, Massachusetts (near Springfield). This includes parts of Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin Counties in Massachusetts and parts of Hartford County in Connecticut. Limited on-site services may be available up to 50-miles. If you live outside this service area, check out the Guide to Finding a Pet Detective or Search Dog to find someone in your area.
Cost of On-Site Services
On-site services packages are highly customized and an estimate will be provided upon submission of a Lost Pet Form. Just to give you a rough idea, a typical displaced cat search would be $360 to $500 depending on your location and type of equipment rented. Rental of equipment requires signing an agreement that you will replace the cost of the equipment if it is lost, stolen or damaged (to the extent that it no longer functions). A deposit for the (full or partial) replacement cost of rental equipment is required at the time of rental and is not included in the above estimate. This will be refunded minus any outstanding rental fees or replacement costs of lost/stolen/damaged equipment. You are responsible for any fees incurred in returning equipment whether you choose to mail equipment or pay for on-site pick up. The full Equipment Rental Terms and Conditions are available within the Services Agreement.
Assistance trapping and specialized capture include additional costs due to multiple on-site visits and/or overnight trap monitoring. Please submit a Lost Pet Form to receive an estimate. Discounts for trapping may be available in S. Hadley, MA and surrounding towns.
For people that do not have the time and/or ability, I am also able to distribute flyers and put up posters. This service generally requires purchase of a phone or on-site consultation. The cost is $25/hr plus the actual cost of printing posters and/or flyers and travel to the location.
Extended-Stay On-Site Assistance
Not currently available.