Cat Missing for a Week: 8 Steps to Get Them Back Home

Key takeaways

A cat going missing is a heartbreaking situation to deal with, and when they have been gone for a week, you may start to lose hope.

However, there's still a good chance you'll find your furry friend with the right search methods.

We're offering 8 expert tips to boost your search efforts. These include staying persistent, reevaluating your search strategies, getting help from others, monitoring outdoor spots, searching at night, checking areas where they may be trapped, leaving food and water out, and starting a PetRadar search.

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  1. Key takeaways
  2. 1. Stay persistent
  3. 2. Organize and reevaluate your search strategy
  4. 3. Collaborate with other pet owners
  5. 4. Start a PetRadar search
  6. 5. Monitor your cat's favorite outdoor spots
  7. 6. Using night searches to your advantage
  8. 7. Explore the possibility of the cat being trapped or injured
  9. 8. Leave out food and water
  10. FAQs
  11. Final thoughts

1. Stay persistent

It's natural to feel disheartened after a week of searching, but remember, persistence is key. It's essential to continue your search efforts, as cats are resilient and can survive for extended periods. Let's debunk some common misconceptions about missing outdoor cats:

Cats always return home within a day or two: While many cats do return after 24-48 hours, they are capable of going on long adventures and returning after weeks, months, or even years.

If a cat is missing for a week, it's unlikely to come back: Many cats go missing for weeks and turn up back at their home or in a local animal shelter.

Outdoor cats can't survive on their own for an extended period: Cats who have experience in the great outdoors can hunt and find shelter in order to survive.

Outdoor cat survival skills

Outdoor cats are resourceful and have developed survival skills that help them thrive in the wild. Some key survival skills of outdoor cats include:

Hunting: Cats are natural predators and can catch small animals for food.

Finding water sources: They can locate water sources like puddles, streams, and dripping pipes.

Seeking shelter: Cats can find hiding places to protect themselves from predators and weather.

Climbing: Climbing trees or other structures to escape danger or observe their surroundings.

Camouflage: Blending in with their environment to avoid detection.

This is why you should keep searching for them, even if they’ve been missing for weeks!
A cat exploring the outdoors
Expert Tip: Leaving out food and water near your home can help entice your cat to return. To attract a lost cat effectively, check out our guide on how to attract a lost cat.

2. Organize and reevaluate your search strategy

Take a moment to reevaluate your search strategy and consider new approaches. Being methodical and adaptable can make a world of difference. Check out this expert guide for a comprehensive plan to find your lost cat.

Review previous search efforts

First, assess your previous efforts to identify areas for improvement. Carefully reviewing your strategy can help you determine what's working and what needs to change. Here are some steps for evaluating previous search efforts:


Identify the search methods you've used so far.


Determine the reach and effectiveness of each method.


Consider any helpful tips or leads you've received.


Reflect on the time and resources spent on each method.


Identify potential gaps in your search approach.

Organizational Tip: Keep a log of your search efforts, including methods used, areas covered, and any leads or tips received.

Update and expand your search area

After a week, it's important to expand your search area, as your cat may have ventured further than initially anticipated. A thorough examination of nearby neighborhoods, parks, and other green spaces can be crucial in locating your furry friend.
Learn about how far cats go when they run away to better understand their behavior. If your cat is still missing after expanding your search, consider enlisting the help of a cat detective or using targeted ads to increase your chances of finding them.
An owner searching for their cat

Expanding your search area increases the likelihood of finding your missing cat.

3. Collaborate with other pet owners

Working with other pet owners can provide invaluable support during this tough time. Plus, they may have unique insights that could help in your search. Here are a few benefits of teaming up with fellow pet parents:

Shared experience and empathy

Insider knowledge about hiding spots and local hazards

Extra eyes and ears on the lookout

Access to more resources and connections, such as community support and essential hotlines and helplines

Emotional support and encouragement, like prayers for lost cats

Organize community search events

Planning and executing a community search event can be a great way to rally support and cover more ground. Follow these steps to make your event a success:


Choose a date and time that works for the majority of participants


Create a Facebook event or group to communicate details and updates


Assign specific search areas to prevent overlap and ensure thorough coverage


Provide participants with contact details, pictures of your cat, and any distinguishing features


Offer safety guidelines and tips for approaching a found cat


After the event, debrief with participants and thank them for their efforts

a community searching for a lost cat

Seek help from local animal organizations and volunteers

There are many local shelters, animal organizations, and volunteers who can provide additional support. Reach out to these resources to expand your search:

Local animal shelters and rescues

Veterinary clinics

Animal control officers

Local pet-related Facebook groups

Volunteer search teams and pet detectives

An animal shelter
Resource Tip: Reach out to pet rescue organizations that specialize in locating lost pets. They may have unique techniques and trained animals, like search dogs, to assist in finding your cat.

Ensure your cat's microchip information is up-to-date

One of the best ways to increase the chances of your cat's safe return is by having an updated microchip. This tiny device contains your contact information, making it easier for shelters or veterinarians to reunite you with your furry friend. If your cat isn't microchipped yet, learn how to find a microchipped cat and the benefits it offers.
If your cat has a microchip, make sure the registration information is up-to-date. Follow these steps to update your cat's microchip registration details:


Locate the microchip number and manufacturer's contact information from your records.


Call or visit the manufacturer's website to access your account.


Verify your contact information and update any outdated details.


Confirm that your cat's description and photo are accurate.


Add secondary contact information, such as a friend or family member, in case you can't be reached.

Pro Tip: Set a yearly reminder to review and update your cat's microchip information, ensuring it's always accurate and current. Remember, an updated microchip could be the key to a happy reunion with your beloved cat.
cat receiving a microchip

4. Start a PetRadar search

By utilizing social media, we have reunited over 10,000 cats with their owners worldwide. With just a bit of information about your cat, we can organize a social media campaign to get it home.

Paid advertisements

When a cat goes missing, it's important that people in your area know about it. However, it can be difficult to spread the message effectively. This is why we use social media.
We create a digital lost cat flyer and distribute it on Facebook and Instagram as a sponsored post, targeting those who live within a specific radius of you. This means when your neighbors are scrolling through their feeds, a photo of your lost pet will pop up. They'll be able to report a sighting, send it to a friend, or save it for later.
By doing this, we alert over 4000 people who live near you so more people are on the lookout for your furry friend.

Free downloadable missing cat poster

Alongside our paid option of social media ads, we offer plenty of free services to help cat owners find their kitty. One of these is our free printable missing cat poster.
Once you sign up to PetRadar for free, we'll send you an expertly designed poster of your beloved companion. Our poster is different from others because it uses a QR code.
We often hear that when cat owners have distributed posters of their missing cats, they receive prank calls and harassment. This is because they have made their contact details public. This is the last thing you need when you're already distressed, which is why our posters don't need any personal contact information.
Instead, passers-by can simply scan the QR code with their phone. This will take them to your furry friend's listing on our website, where they can report a sighting. You'll be instantly notified of this either by text or email!
PetRadar's expert team

5. Monitor your cat's favorite outdoor spots

As much as we'd like to think our cats have an internal GPS, sometimes they need a little help finding their way home.
Keep an eye on your cat's favorite outdoor hangouts, as they might be more likely to return to these familiar places when lost. If you're not sure where these spots might be, learn about the top places cats go when they run away.

Understanding territorial cat behavior

Cats are territorial creatures, and their behavior can greatly influence their actions when they're missing. Let's delve into the key characteristics of territorial behavior:

Establishing a home base: Cats usually have a central location they consider home.

Marking territory: Cats mark their territory using scent glands on their cheeks, paws, and flanks.

Defending their turf: Cats may patrol and defend their territory, especially against other cats.

Seeking safety: Cats will often seek out high or hidden spots for safety and observation.

Routine routes: Cats typically have preferred routes they follow when exploring their territory.

Use the knowledge of these behaviors to determine where to focus your physical search efforts.
Top Tip: Set a humane trap if you think your cat may be in the area!
cat relaxing in their favorite outdoor spot

Observing the behavior of local wildlife can provide insights into your cat's whereabouts.

6. Using night searches to your advantage

Searching for your missing outdoor cat at night might seem daunting, but it can actually offer a unique set of advantages. For starters, nighttime tends to be quieter, which makes it easier to hear any noises your cat might make.
Additionally, cats are often more active at night, so there's a higher chance you might spot your fur baby during these hours. In particular, a scared cat is more likely to move at night because there are less people around.
Did You Know? Cats are natural nocturnal hunters, which is why they tend to be more active during nighttime hours. Learn more about how to find a lost cat at night.

Nighttime search tips and techniques

To make your nighttime searches as effective as possible, follow these tips:

Bring a flashlight: A powerful flashlight is essential for seeing in the dark and scanning the area for any signs of your cat. It will also help you see your cat's eyeshine as they reflect the light.

Enlist a buddy: Having a friend or family member with you can provide an extra set of eyes and ears, as well as emotional support.

Use your cat's favorite treats: Shake a bag of your cat's favorite treats or kibble to lure them out of hiding. They might recognize the sound and come running. Discover more effective tips for finding a lost cat.

Listen for your cat: As you search, stop periodically to listen for any meows or rustling that might indicate your cat's presence. Learn about cat noises that can help you find your cat.

Search familiar spots: Check the areas your cat frequents during the day, as they might return to these spots at night.

A cat owner searching at night for their missing cat

7. Explore the possibility of the cat being trapped or injured

The thought of your cat being trapped or injured is distressing, but it's important to investigate these possibilities. Your cat could be stuck in a tight spot, unable to escape on their own, or injured and in need of help. If you suspect your cat might be trapped or injured, read about what to do if you find a cat outside.

Check construction sites and other human-made hazards

To ensure your cat's safety, take the time to thoroughly inspect any potential danger areas, such as:

Construction sites: Look for any openings or crevices where your cat might be hiding or trapped.

Garages and sheds: Check your own and your neighbors' garages, sheds, and other outbuildings, as your cat might have wandered inside and gotten locked in.

Basements and crawl spaces: Examine any accessible basements and crawl spaces, as your cat could be stuck or hiding in these areas.

Vehicles: Inspect under and inside parked cars, trucks, and other vehicles, as your cat might be seeking shelter or warmth.

Pipes and drains: Look into storm drains, culverts, and pipes, as your cat could have entered these spaces and become trapped.

Tip: When checking for your cat in tight spaces, use a smartphone or small mirror to help you see into hidden areas.
a cat hiding behind a car

Investigate natural hazards

Just like human-made hazards, natural hazards can also pose a threat to your outdoor cat. It's important to be aware of the common natural hazards in your area and investigate them when searching for your missing cat. Here's a list of some to be mindful of:

Steep cliffs or embankments: Cats may accidentally fall or become trapped in these areas.

Dense bushes or thickets: Your cat might be hiding or stuck in these types of vegetation.

Hollow trees or logs: Cats may find shelter or get trapped inside these natural structures.

Bodies of water: Be cautious around ponds, creeks, or other water sources, as your cat might be nearby or have difficulty getting out. If your cat is afraid of water, learn about how long a scared cat will hide.

Wildlife dens or burrows: Cats could inadvertently wander into these spaces and become trapped or injured by the resident wildlife. Understand more about why cats go missing to avoid such situations.

cat stuck in a tree trunk

8. Leave out food and water

Leaving out food and water in strategic locations can be an effective way to entice your cat home or to a specific spot. Here are some tips for placing food and water effectively:

Choose familiar locations: Place food and water in areas your cat frequents or near your home, so it recognizes the surroundings.

Use strong-smelling food: Opt for wet cat food or even tuna, as the smell can travel farther and attract your cat more easily.

Protect food from wildlife: Use containers with lids or place food in sheltered areas to avoid attracting unwanted wildlife. Check out how to catch a lost cat for more ideas.

Replace food and water daily: Ensure that the food and water are fresh and appealing to your cat.

Consider using a trail camera: Monitor the area with a trail camera to check if your cat or other animals are visiting the food and water stations.

Expert Advice: A trail camera can help you determine whether your cat is visiting the food and water stations, as well as identify any other animals in the area. If you see evidence of your kitty, set a humane trap to get them home safely.
A bowl of cat food left out to attract a lost cat


Is it common for cats to be missing for a week or longer?

Yes, outdoor cats are resourceful and can survive on their own for a week or more, so it's not uncommon for them to be missing for extended periods. Learn more about outdoor cats missing for a week in our outdoor cat missing for a week guide.

Can a missing cat come back after a week?

Yes, a missing cat can come back after a week. Cats have a great sense of direction, meaning they can navigate their way back home from far away.

How long can missing cats survive?

Missing cats can survive for a long time, especially if they are already used to the outdoors.

What are the odds of finding a lost cat after a week?

According to a recent study, 34% of cats will be found alive after 7 days.

How do I attract my cat back home?

You can attract your cat back home by placing strong-smelling food, treats, water, and clothing outside your house. You should also open up doors and windows so familiar sounds will attract them home.

How long should my cat be missing before I worry?

If your cat has not come home, you should be proactive in trying to find them straight away. Don’t wait to be worried, instead start searching as soon as possible.

How can I keep my community engaged in the search for my missing cat after a week?

Provide regular updates, request assistance, and organize community events to keep your community engaged and supportive during the search. Check out our lost cat advice for more tips.

What can I do to ensure my outdoor cat's safety if it returns home after a week?

Schedule a vet check-up, update microchip information, and take steps to reduce future risks, such as using a GPS tracker or providing a secure outdoor space. Learn about cat GPS trackers to ensure their safety.

Final thoughts

Your outdoor cat missing for a week can be distressing, but it's important to stay hopeful and keep searching. Reevaluating your search strategy will help keep you proactive.
Remember, a physical search is always the most effective way to find a lost cat, so start looking! In the meantime, start a PetRadar search. We'll give you personal support and guidance throughout the whole process to help you find your missing kitty.

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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