An unfortunate fact is that a lot of cats go missing from home. It can be very distressing as questions swirl through your head. This article will work through understanding why cats go missing and what practical steps you can take to find or lure them back.
If you are worried your Maine Coon could run away and find itself in some kind of danger or get lost, you should, first of all, take some preventive measures before it occurs. You can microchip your cat – it’s cheap, it’s a quick and an easy procedure It allows anyone who may find your cat to identify them and contact you.
Always keep a current photograph of your cat handy so you can easily use it to ask people if they’ve seen a cat like yours in the unfortunate case she goes missing. At least when you go outside with your Maine Coon, provide them with a collar with a tag – it’s not as definitive as a microchip, but it would make it easier for anyone who may find your cat to read your contact and make a phone call.
I realize that you may be reading this article for an immediate list of things to do. I hope this is not the case – but if your Maine Coon has just gone missing and you need a quick summary of what you should do, here’s an at-one-glance summary.
Try to use the treat jar shaking trick to let your Maine Coon come closer. If it doesn’t work, bring some food and water, leave it there and step back. Wait for your cat to come closer and wait until she’s eating her food. She’d become calm enough to let you come closer and grab her.
If you can’t find your cat try to keep hope alive. I know it’s hard, but cats can come back home even after a long time.
I have had several cats go missing and have talked to quite a few friends about theirs. The longest I have heard of is 8 months. An outdoor cat in a rural area suddenly went missing and then 8 months later it was found on the top of the fridge. Completely fine as well. If you search the internet, there are stories of cats wandering off for 6 years.
In 2012, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals did a study to answer this very question.
The study was done on lost pets, so it included dogs, but the relevant cat statists are as follows;
What that says is that most cats that are ‘lost’ eventually come back and that you are not likely to find them in a shelter.
The simple answer is yes, most likely. As Maine Coon owners we tend to worry a lot, and let our imagination run wild. Ask anyone to name a cat’s basic characteristics, and they are likely to say intelligent, agile and natural predator.
Yet cats can be dim, clumsy and some wouldn’t hurt a fly. So despite being better known for having territories and knowing their location, they can quite simply become lost. They can get into confrontations with other felines and have to take the long way round to get back home.
It seems quite normal for cats to go for a little wander for up to 5 days in their lifetime, so if your cat has not come back, then it’s best not to worry too early.
You have to remember a cat is a very resourceful animal. They are quite capable of making decisions that don’t fit in with their conventional norm. During the Oakland Hill fire in 1990 around 2000 homes were completely destroyed. Almost everyone assumed that the neighborhood cat population had been decimated.
Everyone was wrong.
After 2 weeks or so, when they had been driven from their hiding places by thirst and hunger, dozens and dozens of cats came out of hiding holes and sewers where they had fled to safety.
Cats have heightened threat instincts and are very situationally aware. The first thing is to remember that they are likely safe.
When they are lost and disoriented, cats’ behavior is variable. Some may have left a trace using urine and pheromones secreted from their glands, some may travel miles and miles trying to return home. If your cat doesn’t come home after a couple or several hours, you should just be patient and wait. Male cats could have got into a fight with a worthy adversary, like a rat and just be ‘sitting it out’ for a while. He will come back to a source of easy food.
If 24 hours have passed and still your Maine Coon isn’t home, then the time has come for you to take some actions like those we described above.
Is this really something you need to worry about? Keep on reading as we discuss the matter.
Like any living being, cats need food and water to survive. They are made of 75% of water which means that they can suffer dehydration. They can lose water very quickly and the effect of dehydration can be potentially very dangerous (just like it happens for humans).
A typical cat can survive with no water for 2-4 days – but unless you live in the desert it’s very unlikely that you’re lost Maine Coon won’t be able to find any source of water. Maine Coons left alone in the house run a higher risk of being left without a water source and get dehydrated.
A cat that has access to water can survive without food for up to 14 days. But should you really worry about your cat being able to find a food source? Cats are survival specialists. Even if your Maine Coon has always lived indoors she won’t have forgotten her hunter instinct and – although she can face some periods where food is scarce – she will most likely be able to find a food source whether it is through hunting or just rummaging her and there.
The same is for water and shelter. Even though your Maine Coon isn’t used to staying outside for long periods and she can’t find her way home, she will most likely find a safe spot to take a nap, and a water source to survive.
We already mentioned this tip: trying to call your Maine Coon through sounds and smells that can remind her of food. Sometimes regular food won’t work: you’ll need to use some particularly tasting and good-smelling food like fish or meat. Try to heat and reheat the food every so often to keep the aroma strong and let your Maine Coon be attracted by it.
Any familiar scent can be useful to make your Maine Coon come home. Put your Maine Coon’s bed or favorite blankets outside. Also, try to put a scoop of used litter outside along with anything that your Maine Coon usually recognize as their own. The familiar scent will most likely appeal to your cat and lure him home.
For some reason, cats seem to prefer sneaking home rather than announcing themselves. If you leave a crack open you’re increasing the chances of your Maine Coon coming home.
Leave your Maine Coon’s carrier outside along with food and water. This is a shelter that your Maine Coon will recognize as her own and she’ll be more likely to be found there.
Go outside – the best moment of the day would be at dusk or dawn since cats are crepuscular creatures- and call your cat, say their name or chat, sing… Make your Maine Coon hear your voice so that you can help them find their way home.
As the days pass you may need to actively search for your Maine Coon rather than waiting for her to come home. Prepare a flyer with your Maine Coon’s photo (full-body) and your contacts so that anyone who spots a cat that looks like yours can call you and let you know. If several days have passed, it could have also happened that someone has already found your Maine Coon and wasn’t able to contact her owner (that’s why it’s important to microchip your cat or provide them with a collar and ID tag). Flyers could help you find your cat’s rescuer and get our Maine Coon back home.
Walk or drive slowly through the streets around your house, call your Maine Coon’s name and shake a treat jar. Also, use this occasion to talk to your neighbors and let them know that you’ve lost your Maine Coon. Ask them if they have seen her, or to let you know if they ever see a Maine Coon like yours around the neighborhood.
If your Maine Coon doesn’t come home within 24 hours, start to actively search for him.
Every cat could run away but unaltered cats, and especially male cats, are more likely to do so. They tend to leave the house and get even very far from home to search for a mate.
Basically it is more risky if you have a male Maine Coon and an indoor Maine Coon. A male Maine Coon accustomed to indoor life that has not been neutered will be a flight risk during mating seasons.
Knowing the most common locations where missing cats are found can help you find yours.
This is the list of the most common places where lost cats are found as published by a “Missing Cat Study” (2018). These are the participants’ answers:
Cats that were found inside were found:
Cats that were found outside were found:
Outdoors cats have better chances of being able to take care of themselves if they’ll ever get lost. On the other hand, outdoors cats tend to walk longer distances when they’re lost so they can get very far from home.
Be ready for the possibility of your Maine Coon getting lost. Provide your cat with a microchip so that anyone who possibly finds her can contact you.
Unaltered cats are more likely to get away from home to search for possible mates.
If you’ll ever need to print flyers or post Facebook ads you want to have a recent full-body picture of your Maine Coon to show.
Provide your Maine Coon with a collar and an ID tag and make sure to write your contact on it.
Especially if your Maine Coon isn’t allowed outsides alone, take her outside as often as you can so she can get used to the outside world and she’ll be able to defend herself and find her way home if she’ll ever get lost.
If your cat has gone away it could be because he or she is sick. Why do they do that? Cats don’t know what death is and they probably go away just because they feel sick and therefore vulnerable. Injured cats also often hide for the same reason – they are defending themselves from possible predators. If this is the case, actively searching for your Maine Coon would increase your chances to find her or him.
A pet study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website revealed some important outcomes that could be useful to those searching for their lost Maine Coon:
Maine Coons are great hunters and they most likely won’t starve, but they most certainly have had access to a lot less food than usual. As your Maine Coon comes home, she’ll be hungry. Feed her and give her some water.
Especially if your Maine Coon has been away for a long time, you can’t know what she faced or what happened to her, so take her to the vet for a check-up.
Don’t berate them for causing you anxiety. If they sense anger, it is negative reinforcement. Being positive and happy to see them again makes them much more likely to want to come back should the same situation happen again.
If you’re having difficulties finding your lost Maine Coon don’t hesitate to contact the Animal Humane Society website for lost pets. They can provide further tips and help.
If you have lost your Maine Coon, the first thing is not to worry. Not easy I know.
With luck, patience and care, you should have have your Maine Coon back at the house in no time at all.