If you have reason to suspect that your cat is lost (and not just hiding), here are a few important tips. According to an feline expert, who used to do search and rescue work with the California police, most cats are found within a 3-5 house radius of where they live.
While outdoor cats are likely to be farther afield, indoor kitties will probably be hiding near your house. Or, they may have taken refuge in a neighbor’s backyard, garage, basement, crawl space, etc. And don’t be surprised if she doesn’t respond when you call. She may be too frightened to move; instinct tells her that it’s safer to be quiet — as not to attract predators.
But don’t give up. Put up posters. Offer a reward. Although it may seem logical to call local animal shelters, it’s more likely that a dog will have been picked up than a cat. One of my friends lost Toby for two weeks. Thanks to a poster, and a call from a stranger who spotted him, the two were reunited.
Some experts recommend using a humane trap, baited with tuna fish or other delicious food, and baby monitor. If you go that route, be sure to check the trap often and don’t be surprised if another animal is inside.
Fortunately many cats will come out of hiding in 5 to 10 days motivated by hunger and thirst. When one of my clients moved cross country, Mimi escaped. Jennifer had almost given up hope. But I encouraged her to drive back to the neighborhood where she had last seen her. And seventeen days later, she found her precious Mimi.
Lastly, here is an excellent website for owners of missing cats: http://www.katalbrecht.com/faq.php