Action Plan for Lost Cats
Losing your pet is a very overwhelming and scary experience. We have developed this comprehensive Lost Cat Action Plan to help you get your pet home as quickly as possible.
Post to the largest Facebook group first - Lost and Found Pets 941 (Lost Pet Services)
We are the largest, most active Lost and Found nonprofit organization in Manatee and Sarasota counties with over 44,000 members who will rally to help find your cat. We have helped reunite 1000's of lost pets with their families.
CALL - VISIT - REPORT TO ALL SHELTERS, ANIMAL SERVICES & VETERINARIANS
Animal Services and shelters are often the first place people call when they have found a stray pet in their neighborhood. Call or email all local agencies and report your lost cat.
Contact the following agencies within a 20-mile radius. Give them all the current information about your cat – color of collar, any tags on the collar, if chipped, spayed or neutered, pictures, breed, etc.
Send shelters within a 60-mile radius a flyer in case someone may have picked up your pet and brought it to a different location. We have provided an interactive shelter map, click HERE .
Manatee County: 941-742-5933 Ext 2 or Dial 311
Email Manatee Animal Services: Haili.Brooks@mymanatee.org
Sarasota County: 941-861-9501
Email Sarasota County Animal Services at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte County Animal Control utilizes the services of
Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County: 941-625-6720
Manatee County: 941-747-8808 Ext. 314
Lakewood Ranch: 941-361-1071
Sarasota County: 941-955-4131
Cat Depot: 941-366-2404
Suncoast Humane Society: 941-474-7884
HONOR ANIMAL RESCUE: (941) 747-4900
**IMPORTANT - Animal Services only keeps reports for 30 days.
After 30 days you must place a new report.**
YOU MUST VISIT LOCAL SHELTERS
It is best to visit at least every 3 days or call every day. Remember, after a 5-day holding period for dogs and a 3-day holding period for cats, your pet may be put up for adoption. You have to be certain your pet isn’t there. There is currently a critical overpopulation at the shelters and you cannot take a chance of missing your pet by not going in person to look. Bring a picture and proof of ownership with you. Be sure that you have filed a report.
NOTIFY MICROCHIP COMPANY
If your pet is microchipped, contact the microchip company to make sure your pet’s registration is up-to-date with current phone numbers and contact information. Many people do not realize that after a year, the chip information most likely will be expired. Our Microchipping Resources page offers links to microchipping services to register and report.
CALL LOCAL VETS
People will often take lost pets to a local vet, especially one that is injured. Vets will scan for microchips and contact you. That is why it is imperative to have your microchip information up to date. Call all nearby vets to see if anyone reported finding your cat. Be sure to check with all ER vets as well.
NOTIFY LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS
Give the patrol officer a few flyers so that he can help you look and contact you if he finds or sees the cat. Notify Dispatch so that if neighbors see you lurking around the houses and yards, they can know in advance what you're up to.
NOTIFY OTHER PET RELATED BUSINESSES
When people find lost pets they may take them to local veterinarians, police stations, kennels, groomers or even pet stores. It is helpful to have flyers prepared and delivered in person, via email or fax to these other businesses. You can get one by filling out this Lost / Found Pet report which will generate a free flyer.
LOST CAT VIDEO - HOW TO FIND A LOST CAT
If you or someone you know has lost their cat, this video will help. Lost cat behavior is much different than lost dog behavior, so it's important to have the right strategy.
CREATE / POST FLYERS
This is the #1 way most pets are reunited with their owners. This is the most important step in the search process.
By filling in our Lost Pet Report , we provide a high-visibility flyer created especially for your pet. The red and yellow flyer is to be used as an "intersection flyer" for outdoor use with high visibility. We will share the information you provide on our Facebook group that has over 40,000+ members. These posts are shared with other local social media groups. We ask our members to share with any local HOA groups or other Facebook groups they may also belong to.
Discount cards for Office Depot stores are available for printing flyers and supplies. If you make your own flyers, they should be kept simple and readable with a good phone number. If you print on Office Depot's least expensive card stock, you don't need sheet protectors. They are sturdy and basically waterproof. Otherwise, put paper copies in plastic sheet protectors with the opening at the bottom and be sure to staple in all four corners. Post it facing the direction of traffic.
Give copies of your flyer to people that walk their dogs in the area. Dogs walking on leashes notice movement that people don’t. Staple or tape our flyer to a neon poster board with LARGE writing underneath for poster-size signs.
SUBMIT A LOST PET REPORT
Click this link to fill out this Lost Pet Form. By submitting this form, you are giving consent for Lost Pet Services, Inc. to post the information you include (your phone number and email address) on the Lost and Found Pets 941 (Lost Pet Services) Facebook page. This will help facilitate the possible reunion of a lost pet with their owner. Plus it will generate a free flyer for you to share.
TROUBLE UPLOADING THE PHOTOS?
If you are having trouble uploading the pet's photo on the form, please forward to Patty@941LostPets.com . A good picture, preferably a full body picture of the pet is important for our posts on flyers and our Facebook group page.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKING POSTERS
Friends and family and well-meaning people will want to "physically search" for the cat. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. This will put additional stress on the lost cat and will send him further and further away. The quicker you get the posters up in the area, the quicker you will start getting calls with sightings. Remember to record all sightings of the cat with time, date and exact location.
PLACE SIGN IN YOUR YARD
Make a sign for your yard saying LOST CAT LIVES HERE.
Give a description and contact information in case you’re not home so people will know where the CAT lives if someone finds your pet. The example of our free flyer blown up helped reunite a dog that was missing for more than a week.
Also make several large signs like the one shown here. This example is one of our reused campaign signs. Also, FedEx stores, UPS Stores, OfficeMax, and Staples can also blow up the flyers to create this type of yard sign.
POST SIGNS AND HANG POSTERS - INTERSECTION SIGNS
Intersection signs work great in the city and rural areas. Staple or tape our flyer to a neon poster board with LARGE writing underneath for poster-size signs. You can create this large type of poster using "neon poster board" and a BLACK magic marker. List only basic details with Big BOLD Letters. Intersection signs are highly visible, easier to read than flyers and are known to generate sightings. Gated community entrances should also be a place to post signs.
Make them GIANT so that people driving by cannot miss them. Make them FLUORESCENT so that the color attracts the attention of everyone. Put them at major intersections near where you lost your pet (and in areas of sightings).
WRITE LOST PET INFO ON YOUR CAR WITH NEON MARKERS
Turn your car into a billboard! Use bright florescent window markers (like these) to advertise your lost dog as you drive through your community. Be sure to include: the breed or description of your cat if it is a lesser known breed, list a street, intersection, or neighborhood name, the city or town and your phone number. Keep it to 3-4 lines of information. The letters should be three to four inches tall – any smaller and they won't be easy to read. Use different colors in your message to make it easier to read. You can also include a color photograph of your dog inserted inside a plastic sheet protector and secured to your window with tape.
MAKE AND HANG LOST PET DOOR HANGERS
Click on the DOOR HANGER example or Click Here for a printable Pet Door Hanger. Keep them BRIEF and to the point.
KEEP YOUR CELL PHONE ON AT ALL TIMES
Your telephone should be manned 24 hours a day. If your cat has an ID tag with your phone number on it, you may very well get a call. If you don't have a cell phone, you might what to purchase a pay-as-you-go phone for this emergency. Change your voicemail on your phone with a message that you have lost your cat and this is the correct number if you are reporting it found.
ALERT MAILMAN, UPS & FED EX DRIVERS
Alert any of these people and give them flyers and contact information. They are traveling all around the areas and may see your pet. *Remember do not put flyers inside mailboxes. It is a federal offense. You can, however, tape them to the side of your mailbox. Or rubber band them to the mailbox flag.
START SEARCHING IMMEDIATELY -
NEVER ASSUME YOUR PET WAS STOLEN
Do not wait for your cat to come home. The quicker you start your search, the better your chances of being reunited with your cat.
STAY CONNECTED - ONLINE
POST TO NEXTDOOR.COM
Nextdoor.com is a local neighborhood community web page and there is also an app. Many people who are not on Facebook post to nextdoor.com. We have had several dogs reunited using this method. Set up your nextdoor.com account for as many neighborhoods as you can.
POST ON THE RING APP
Even if you are not on the Ring app, you can post. Many people are using this app to post lost, found and pet sightings.
POST TO OTHER ONLINE LOST PET SITES
Post to Lost Cats Florida and PetFBI.org which is a largest lost pet database in the world. PetFBI will get you posted with Lost Cats of Florida. If you are from outside Florida, they will direct your flyer to the local State Lost Cats of America page.
LOCAL NEWSPAPER AD
Put an ad in the Lost and Found section of the daily newspaper and weekly community newspapers. Many lost and found ads are free.
SEARCH LOCAL AREAS & DROP OFF FLYERS
Using Google Maps, draw a circle in a one to two-mile radius around the last sighting and hang or hand out flyers heavily in this radius. Never assume that your cat will not cross a highway, pond, railroad tracks, or power lines.
CHECK INSIDE YOUR HOUSE
Start in the house and look in every closet, cabinets, bureau drawers, air ducts, behind appliances, under beds, in the hollow under reclining chairs, under couches, wrapped in the bottom of drapes or blankets, behind clothes washer and dryer, in any hidden recesses, crawl spaces, apartment hallways and any other small hiding places a pet can fit.
CHECK OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE
Check the bushes, garage, under vehicles and other small den-like areas on your property to see if your dog is frightened and hiding. 25% of cats are still on the owner's property. Checking your property using a flashlight when it starts getting dark is helpful. The light will reflect the cat's eyes if it is hiding underneath something.
ASK NEIGHBORS TO HELP
Have your neighbors check their yard, under porches, garages, crawl spaces, sheds, under boat docks, window wells, barns, broken down cars, and chicken coops. Remember to ask permission before going on their property.
VISIT LOCAL BUSINESSES
Ask businesses to put your flyers up in their break rooms. Visit the shipping and receiving areas of stores, visiting at different times to meet all the shift workers. Be sure to canvas all the local drive-thru restaurants and bank tellers. Ask for the manager after ordering something off the dollar menu and ask them if you can leave some flyers for their break room and to keep them by the drive-thru window.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & SEARCH TIPS
Enlist friends and family to help with outreach and hanging flyers. It takes a village to find a lost pet. Go out and create the village by talking to your neighbors. Recruit kids, co-workers and other volunteers to help you put up posters and get them up as quickly as possible.
PLACE SCENT ITEMS OUTSIDE
Put your cats toys or blanket/bed outside or even one of your shirts that has not been laundered. You can try to put the kitty litter box outside (preferably dirty). These scents will help draw the cat back to your house. The kitty litter method is a hot debate topic among cat recovery specialists but we do have owners who swear by it.
Bring treats with strong smells – tuna, wet cat food, etc. You can also try catnip.
SET UP A HUMANE TRAP
If you can confirm the cat has been spotted but you cannot catch it, a trap is a good option. Inside cats that get outdoors are most likely hiding nearby. Because they are frightened, they will not meow or come to you. The humane society, local rescues or some of the members of LostFoundPets941 may have traps to lend out. Here is a list of other trap sources. Traps can also be purchased at pet stores, hardware stores and home centers. Bait with some strong-smelling food. Place cat bedding inside the trap. Check the trap often. Don’t be surprised if you find a raccoon or someone else’s cat if the trap is left overnight.
Here are some local organizations that rent out traps:
8451 Bee Ridge Road
($80 cash deposit/refundable)
2542 17th Street
(first come, first serve basis, rent with credit card)
1408 State Street
1925 S. Tamiami Trail
(reservations are needed)
5660 Ashton Road
(call for more information)
CALL LOCAL HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT
If a pet is hit by a car, the highway maintenance department is called to pick up the cat. You should contact them directly to see if they received any calls. Although this would be very difficult news to receive, it would give you closure. You can also call Animal Services to check this.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Don't believe everything people tell you.
Don't chase a lost pet!
Don't give up!
NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR PET.
THEY NEED YOUR HELP TO GET HOME!
LOST PET PHOTOS ARE POSTED TO OUR FACEBOOK AND ON OUR WEBSITE, Twitter, Pinterest and Craigslist as a service to locate and reunite lost pets. Please be informed that by posting to Lost Pet Services, Inc. website or Facebook page and/or requesting that a message regarding your missing pet or a pet you have found be posted, you are giving your consent to make certain private information available for public viewing and hold harmless Lost and Found Pets 941 (Lost Pet Services) and Lost Pet Services, Inc. This would include name, phone number, picture and/or email address. Please be advised that Lost Pet Services, Inc. through their Facebook group, Lost and Found Pets 941 (Lost Pet Services) is requesting this information, not Facebook, in order to facilitate the recovery of your missing pet by communicating your contact information to our Facebook page or website. Lost Pet Services, Inc. is not a rescue and does not have an ownership interest in any of the pets we assist. If you help with placement, transport or foster of any of the pets posted in the page, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless Lost Pets Inc., and its officers and directors of and from any liability, expenses, fines, or damages incurred as a result of any of your participation in any of the foregoing activities.