An outdoor-access cat is any cat that is allowed outdoors unsupervised (even if only for a short time each day). These suggestions apply to cats lost from home or a familiar location. If your cat went missing away from home or an unfamiliar location, see Find a Cat Lost Away From Home.
Steps to Find a Lost Outdoor-Access 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.
- 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 the cost of a Basic Consultation) 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 Lost Outdoor-Access Cat Search Works
When an outdoor-access cat goes missing from his home (or a familiar location), there are often many different things that could have happened. For this reason, I usually start with a comprehensive phone consultation to determine the highest probability causes and then instruct you in the most important steps to start looking for your cat.
Next I usually come on-site and conduct a thorough search in the area of your cat’s typical territory to make sure that they aren’t trapped, injured and hiding or deceased close to home. Very few outdoor-access cats are located during a search, but this is still a very important step since your cat’s life is in danger if they are injured or trapped. You might expect your cat to meow if trapped or come home if injured, but the natural behavior of a frightened or injured cat is to hide in silence so it is easy to overlook them when searching. Doing a physical search is most effective in the week after your cat goes missing.
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. 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 after I am gone. I also assist with the creation of highly-effective lost cat posters and flyers. Posters are a very important tool in the search for a lost outdoor-access cat because they can easily be displaced from their home territory (e..g. chased away by another cat or wild animal) and end up 1-2 miles from home. Motion-sensitive surveillance cameras may also be rented to assist with following-up of potential sightings. Occasionally humane traps may be rented if you locate your cat, but are unable to catch them by hand.
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 lost outdoor-access cat search would start around $450 if you are located in the local service area.
If you wanted equipment rental, which is more common with a cat lost away from home, the cost would be around $650 and up depending on 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 but only within 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 and is only available in the local service area. The cost is $40/hr plus the actual cost of printing posters and/or flyers and travel to the location.
Extended-Stay On-Site Assistance
Not currently available.