Find a Lost Indoor-Only Cat

Are you sure that your cat is really “Indoor-Only”?

The search methods used to find an indoor-only cat are different from those suggested for an outdoor-access cat.  An indoor-only cat is any cat that is not allowed outdoors unsupervised (unless in an enclosure).  Some indoor-only cats may have previous outdoor experience if they are repeat escapees or former outdoor-access cats.  If you let your cat out unsupervised for even a short time each day, please see How to Find a Lost Outdoor-Access Cat.

Important Information – If Your Cat Has Been Missing Less Than One Week – Please Read

Knowing what to do (and what NOT to do) in the first week can make the difference between getting your lost cat back quickly and easily.  Many indoor only cats CAN still be found after this time (even a month or more after they go missing), but it is often much more difficult and can take several weeks to a month or more to find and catch your cat.

If you can afford it, get on-site assistance immediately.  During this time, most escaped indoor-only cats can be found doing a yard-by-yard physical search (with or without a search dog) and using humane traps and surveillance cameras.  There is a good possibility that you will be able to find your lost cat on your own during this time, especially if you know what to do and (just as important) what NOT to do.  You may even see your cat during this time but be unable to catch them.  However, if it will not be a financial hardship, I strongly encourage you to get on-site assistance immediately.   I have seen far too many people attempt to find their cat themselves and only seek on-site assistance after they have attempted and failed to catch their cat or have not seen their cat in more than one week.  The biggest errors people make are not searching thoroughly enough or attempting and failing to catch or trap their cat.

Even if you can’t afford on-site assistance, you still have a very good chance of getting your cat back quickly if you learn how to conduct a proper search.  Make sure that you are taking the most effect actions and are not doing things that will actually hurt your search efforts.  Don’t wait until you have tried everything you’ve read on the internet or the well-meaning suggestions of friends before getting professional help.  Schedule a phone or email consultation or check out the low cost and free resources available on this site ASAP.

Steps to Find a Lost Indoor-Only Cat

  1. 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.
  2. 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 $140) will be deducted from the on-site services fee.
  3. If you cannot afford a consultation or on-site assistance, then check out the low cost and free lost pet resources.

How a Lost Indoor-Only Cat Search Works

Finding lost indoor-only cats is my specialty, and I have a recovery rate of more than 75% for cases where I provide on-site services.  However, this does not mean that most cats are found while I am on-site.  Less than 20% of cats are found during a physical search with or without the search dog.  Most cats are found through a combination of effective advertising and surveillance and capture methods, and it takes an average of 6-18 days to locate a lost indoor-only cat though in some cases it can take 40-60 days or more.  As part of the on-site services, I provide ongoing phone and email support for at least one week, and you have the option of purchasing additional consultation support if needed.

In a typical escaped indoor-only 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 same day or next day) and conduct a 1-3 hour search with my cat detection dog to check out the most likely spots in the neighborhood where s/he might be hiding.  Important: Please be aware that my search dog, Dante, is an area detection dog and not a tracking or trailing dog.  This means that he will search yard-by-yard for the scent of any cat, and he does not follow the scent-trail of your specific lost cat.  For more information, see Dante’s page.  Using the search dog is most effective in the week after your cat escapes and perhaps longer with some really skittish cats or those with no previous 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 him/her home.

If your cat isn’t found during the initial search, then I coach you on how to best continue your search efforts after I am gone.  The majority of indoor-only cats are ultimately found within 1/4 mile of home, so the likelihood of finding them is very high if you persist with effective search techniques.  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.  These are particularly important if your cat has been missing more than one week.

Service Area

On-Site Services are primarily available within 100-miles of South Hadley, MA (near Springfield).  This includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.  On-site services may be available up to 150 miles on a limited basis, but this will often require an overnight stay.  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

A typical indoor-only cat search costs around $350 (for an on-site consultation, 2-hour search and rental of 2 wildlife cameras) plus additional travel fees (if more than 25-miles from South Hadley, MA) and application tolls.  On-site services packages are highly customized, and an estimate will be provided upon submission of a Lost Pet Form.

Additional On-Site Services Available

Extended Stay  – In some cases I will spend several days on-site and can provide additional searches with the search dog, assistance with designing and putting up posters/flyers, checking shelters, and/or assistance with overnight surveillance or trapping.  An overnight stay would be recommended if your cat has been missing for less than one week and you would like to significantly increase the likelihood of finding them quickly.  Some people also request an extended stay if they are unable to search or put up posters themselves.  If you are interested in any extended stay, please let me know when you fill out the Lost Pet Form.

Specialized Capture – If you have located your cat but cannot catch them, I also offer assistance trapping and specialized capture.

For information on how to schedule on-site assistance, click here.