What is a Displaced Cat?
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
Technically, all escaped indoor-only cats are displaced cats. If you have a missing indoor-only cat lost from home, please see Search for Lost Indoor-Only Cat.
How a Displaced Cat Search Works
In a displaced cat case, I usually start with a lost cat consultation so that you are doing everything you can to locate your cat immediately. For more information on what is included in a Lost Cat Consultation or to purchase one, click here. If I am immediately available, we may skip this step and start with an on-site consultation and search.
Prior to the search, I will email you a map showing the area that we will attempt to search. I do require that you or someone familiar with your cat accompany me on the search and ensure that we have permission to enter people's properties. Some people choose to get permission to enter their neighbors' yards prior to my arrival. Otherwise, we won't be able to enter any yards where people are not home during the search. A search usually lasts 2-3 hours and we will check out the most likely spots in the area where your cat might be hiding.
Important: Please be aware that at this time I do not have a search dog. 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 more skittish cats or those with 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. In most cases, I will help set-up one or two surveillance cameras and at least one humane trap. An on-site search plus consultation and equipment rental usually lasts 3-6 hours. If you are local, then I may return to assist with additional searching or set-up/move traps or 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 their way back home or return to a previous home.
Posters are often very important in helping to locate a displaced cat. I can also assist with the design of highly-effective lost cat posters and flyers. I don't usually have time to put up posters at the same time as a search and equipment rental, but if you are local, this service can be purchased separately.
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 around $800 if you are located in the local service area. This estimate includes a lost pet consultation with one week support, a 2-hour on-site search, and rental of one trap and two cameras. Additional equipment rental costs $30 to $75 each for different traps and cameras..
Rental of equipment requires signing an agreement that you will replace the cost of the equipment if it is lost, stolen or damaged. A deposit for the (full or partial) replacement cost of rental equipment may be 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.
For people that do not have the time and/or ability, I am also able to distribute flyers or put up posters. This service generally requires purchase of a lost cat consultation and is only available in the local service area. The cost is $40/hour plus the actual cost of printing posters and/or flyers and travel to the location.
See the On-Site Services page for the most up to date service area.
Scheduling On-Site Assistance
See the On-Site Services page for instructions on requesting on-site assistance.