What is an Indoor-Only Cat?
These search strategies apply best to indoor-only cats that have never been outside before. However, some indoor cats may have outdoor experience such as 1) cats adopted as former feral or stray cats, 2) former outdoor-access cats that are now indoor cats, or 3) indoor cats allowed outdoors under supervision, in an enclosure or on-leash. It has been my experience, that many of these cats still behave like typical indoor-only cats. However, if your cat has prior outdoor experience, especially former feral or stray cats, they may be more comfortable outdoors and possibly travel farther. Indoor cats with very bold, out-going personalities may hide less, be more likely to approach people and possibly travel farther distances.
If your cat is allowed outdoors unsupervised on a regular basis, even for a short time each day, see Search for a Lost Outdoor-Access Cat.
If your cat has some outdoor experience and was lost from an unfamiliar location, see Search for a Cat Lost Away from Home.
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 73% 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, and the chances are highest in the first 72 hours.
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 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. Most 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.
If you know the location of your cat, but are unable to catch them, I also offer assistance trapping and specialized capture of hard-to-trap cats. This service is also offered as a follow-up to on-site assistance, it your cat proves difficult to catch.
I can also assist with the design of highly-effective lost cat posters and flyers. These are particularly important if your cat has been missing more than one week. 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 lost indoor-only cat search usually starts around $560 if you are located in the local service area. This estimate includes a lost pet consultation, 2-hour on-site search, and rental of one trap and two cameras. Additional equipment rental costs $20 to $50 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.