Like many of you, my family welcomed two new pets into our home last year. A brother/sister pair of gray kittens, named Stoney and Silver by our sons. We relished those first weeks of kitten antics. The boys made beds and cardboard houses and feather toys. Room by room, we opened up our home to these sweet animals. I grew accustomed to a purring kitten on my lap during work conference calls.
We were given strict instructions by everyone we encountered not to let them outside. Think of all of the dangers – cars, racoons, coyotes!? Of course, we were keeping them inside! Maybe we’d find the time to build a “catio.”
But, eventually they discovered an intoxicating whiff of the outdoors. And thus began a routine of dashing in and out of doors, blocking the cats or racing around the yard trying to capture one or both escapees. They were crafty – busting out a loose screen, pushing their way through the window air conditioner accordion barrier, and even climbing up our beautiful wood paneled doors to will a way outside. We tried new toys and treats, but they were not swayed.
We resigned ourselves that maybe they just needed to be outside. Like something primal. So, we strapped on some collars with their names and our phone number and started letting them out. As scary as it was to let them go, it was delightful to see them return and also witness how much happier and calmer they were.
Of course, they have not returned home some nights, even after us wandering the streets shaking the food bowl. And just when I’ve been on the edge of losing hope, I’ve been rescued by our community on numerous occasions. On NextDoor and Facebook, neighbors are keeping an eye out for lost animals, helping reunite owners and sharing resources. These have been immensely helpful for me and I wanted to share them with you in case you have lost (or found!) a cat and would like to tap into the wonderful Wallingford neighborhood of pet lovers (and kind, pet-tolerant people).
Below are several recommendations by Betsy and Trin on NextDoor. This list has been posted several times when panicked neighbors have been looking for their indoor cat who is on the lam. I’ve added in additional notes from other neighbors too.
- Chances are your cat is close by the area of escape and might be hiding somewhere around your home. Indoor-only cats seldom wander off when they go missing from their home, and keep very quiet and well-hidden. Indoor-outdoor cats do roam but tend to stay close to their territory.
- Paul from Wally Pets noted that during cold, rainy weather, cats may try to find shelter in a garage or shed but won’t be noticed before the door is shut. He’s heard many stories of cats being discovered – even days later – when the garage is reopened. Alert your neighbors and ask if they can take a look inside their shed, basement, or garage.
- When searching for your cat at night, use a flashlight to look for eye-shine. Look under bushes, parked cars, in trees, and other spots that provide shelter.
- If your cat is responsive to catnip, sprinkle trails around your house and yard.
- If possible (and secure), leave a window ajar so your cat can enter the house.
- Post a picture of your cat on Nextdoor and Facebook asking “lost: have you seen my cat?”, include your contact info. It’s difficult to tell if cats are indoor, outdoor or both. Fortunately, our community is aware and keeping an eye out for all. Visit Cats of Wallingford and Fremont (#wallymontoutdoorcat) to post about your lost cat or just to let neighbors know about your resident feline. From admin Rachael, “Please feel free to post pics of you cats doing fun things and make sure to include their names, cross streets and whether or not they are indoor or outdoor.” You can also use the #wallymontoutdoorcat on any post and it will come up in the community.
Rachael also recommends:
- Putting clothes or blankets that smell like him outside to attract the cat.
- For outdoor cats that like to lose breakaway collars, try a stretchy collar like this one.
If you find a cat without a collar:
- Please don’t feed the cats. If they are an outdoor cat as this may distract them from returning home.
- If you want to know if the cat is alright being outside, you can try attaching a paper collar with your name and phone number for the owner to contact you.
Other Facebook groups to try. Be sure to update the title of your post once a lost pet is found (not just the comments).
- Wallingford/Fremont community group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wallingfordfremontcommunity/ try #lostpets or #pets
- Wallingford/Fremont Community Pet Lovers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WallingfordFremontPetLovers/
- Lost Cats of King County: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LostCatsofKingCounty/
- Lost & Found Pets of King County: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LostPetsKingCounty
If your cat is not microchipped:
- Call local veterinary clinics with a description of your cat and ask if they’ve been brought in. Provide your contact info so they can get hold of you.
- During weekends and evening hours: call Emerald City Emergency Clinic. They are open 24/7 and this is where local pets are brought to when found, if someone finds and brings in your cat, the clinic will be able to contact you outside usual clinic hours. Emerald City Emergency Clinic: 4102 Stone Way N, (206-634-9000). http://emeraldcity24hrvet.com/
- Contact Seattle Animal Shelter to file a lost cat report. By filling out a form, the shelter will have your cat’s info on file and be able to contact you. Here’s where you can list your cat in the shelter’s lost and found database: Seattle Animal Shelter, 2061 15th Ave W, (206-386-7387). [email protected] — https://web6.seattle.gov/FAS/romps/
- Make a Pawboost alert: https://www.pawboost.com/
- If your cat has a microchip, call the microchip company for confirmation that your contact info is up to date: https://www.foundanimals.org/microchip-register/
If you have an escape artist or you’re worried your cat will go missing:
- Invest in a GPS collar or harness. Search for “lightweight tracking collars for cats”, you’ll find various options. Some trackers can be quite spendy (if cat loses their collar you lose the tracker), there are some less chunky and fairly inexpensive trackers, but their tracking ranges vary (100 to 200 feet). There are in-built tracker collars and harnesses, and trackers that you can attach to a collar. Side note: I’ve been using an Apple AirTag attached to my cat’s collar (which is NOT the recommended use – they almost wouldn’t sell it to me) which relies on nearby iPhone users to ping the collar and transmit the location back to me. It has been extremely helpful in tracking and finding our cat (only one managed to not lose it so far).