What Are the Odds of Finding a Lost Cat or Dog?


There is nothing more worrisome than finding your dog or cat suddenly gone missing. One day you arrive home and couldn’t locate your beloved pet anywhere. You picture him lost out there with no food or shelter and facing all kinds of danger like cars, predatory animals, and who knows what else. If you find yourself in this situation, do not despair.  If you act quickly and take the right steps in the first 24 hours, the odds of finding a lost pet are actually pretty good. It goes even higher if you took some preventive measures such as having your dog or cat microchipped.


According to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 93% of lost dogs and 75% of lost cats reported have been successfully reunited with their owners. This is based on a five-year survey of over a thousand households with pets, only about 15% of which reported having lost a pet at some point within a period of five years, until 2012.


Reasons Why Pets Get Lost

These are a couple of possible reasons behind dogs or cats wandering off:


1. Opportunity.

While we do our best to give our pets the best care and protection, some dogs and cats would simply grab any opportunity to step into the world outside. Cats are instinctively curious while dogs would just sometimes be glad to escape from a confined space. There are just some things even the best pet owners can’t control and this is one of them.

2. Fear or panic.

It’s not uncommon hearing stories about how pets have gotten lost when there had been loud sounds such as firecrackers during festivities or thunder. Dogs especially have a tendency to run away from home as their way of dealing with their own fear or panic.

3. Boredom. 

Pets are also prone to boredom, especially dogs. If they don’t get enough exercise or mental stimulation at home, pets are likely to find the outdoors more appealing. Keep your pet happy and content by imposing regular exercise and playtime. 

4. Predatory instinct. 

Cats are predatory by nature and there are specific dog breeds which exhibit a dominant instinct to hunt. Some cats and dogs get lost in the process of chasing a stray animal. 

5. Reproductive drive.

Male dogs and cats may at some point have the urge to roam in search of a mate. Even the most well-trained dog or the most behaved kitty would find it hard to resist when they catch a whiff of a female companion nearby. Secure fencing would usually be enough to keep your pet safe indoors, but spaying or neutering your pet would also be a good option in helping prevent your cat or dog from wandering off and ending up getting lost. 


How to Increase the Chances of Finding a Lost Pet

In the event that Kitty or Fluffy makes a run for it, time is of the essence. If your pet had been microchipped or wears a collar tag with your home address and details, it would be so much easier for anyone who finds him to return him back to you. The ASPCA study reports that 15% of lost dogs were found because they had collar tags or microchips. But while you’re waiting for any possible leads, there are some other things you can do to increase the odds of finding your lost pet.

1. Create a flyer on PawMaw.com.

You increase the odds of finding a missing cat or dog if you report the loss to PawMaw. Log in on PawMaw.com and create a lost pet flyer. All you need to do is input all important details like a photo and description for your pet, as well as your contact details. Members from your location will be immediately alerted when you post your flyer so you definitely have more eyes looking out for your lost pet.

2. Search the neighborhood thoroughly.

There’s a very good possibility that your lost cat or dog is just lost, trapped, or hiding somewhere within your own neighborhood. Look in every possible hiding place and knock on doors if necessary. Ask everyone you meet if they saw a dog or cat matching your pet’s description.  


3. Put up advertisements.

Spreading the word to as many people as possible is one sure way to increase the odds of finding your lost dog or cat. Put up the flyers on public boards and lost and found websites. You can also have your advertisement published in local newspapers.  

4. Call local shelters and vets.

Call or visit your local shelters and vet clinics and inquire about any strays. The study by ASPCA reveals that about 6% of dog owners and 2% of cat owners saw the safe return of their lost pets by checking nearby animal shelters. If you come up empty on the first day, don’t give up. Follow up every few days.

5. Set up traps.

Cats move fast and in a fearful and disoriented state, they can be quite hard to catch. When they’re lost, they tend to hide during the day and move around to search for food and a new hiding place at night. Increase the odds of finding a missing cat by setting up humane traps around the house and some likely places in the community where it could show up. Check the traps every morning and set them up again if a different animal falls into the trap.

Having a beloved pet missing can be a stressful experience. But the chances of finding a lost dog or cat is actually higher than you might think. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, it’s important to keep your head straight and to never give up on your search. Several missing cats or dogs have been reported to safely return home even after days or weeks of being lost. By working with us at PawMaw and taking some active steps, you can further raise the odds of finding a lost pet.

When you finally get reunited with your pet, remember that it’s best to make sure that it doesn’t ever happen again. Some preventive measures you can take include having your cat or dog microchipped or updating his collar tag. There are plenty of pet gadgets today such as GPS-enabled collar tags, that you may consider for added peace of mind.


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