What is an Outdoor-Access Cat?
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 Search for a Cat Lost Away From Home.
How a Lost Outdoor-Access Cat Search Works
When an outdoor-access cat goes missing from their home (or a familiar location), there are often many different things that could have happened. For this reason, I usually start with a comprehensive lost cat consultation to determine the highest probability causes and then instruct you in the most important steps to start looking for your cat. 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.
During the on-site search, we will conduct a thorough search in the area of your cat’s typical territory to make sure that they aren't trapped, injured, 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.
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. 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 design 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. 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.
An on-site search plus consultation and equipment rental usually lasts 3-6 hours. Motion-sensitive surveillance cameras may also be rented to assist with follow-up of potential sightings. Occasionally humane traps may be rented if you locate your cat, but are unable to catch them by hand. If you are local, then I may return to assist with additional searching or to set-up/move traps or cameras.
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 cat search would start at $450 if you are located in the local service area. This estimate includes a lost cat consultation and 2-hour on-site search, but does not include any equipment rental. Equipment rental is an additional $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.