How To Find Lost Kittens: The Complete Guide for Worried Owners

Key takeaways

It's tricky enough when your cat goes AWOL. But when it comes to tiny, curious kittens, finding them can feel like a lost cause. But it doesn't have to be. Follow our systematic approach and tick off all possible hiding places in and out of the house before you begin to panic.

Unless your kittens have already ventured into the great outdoors, the likelihood is that they have found the perfect snoozing spot somewhere in your house. Even the smallest apartments have a surprising number of hiding places for your fur baby. Follow our checklist in this article to find them.

If there's no sign of them indoors, it's time to start a wider search. While cats have incredible homing abilities, your lost kitten may not have had enough time or practice to really tap into this superpower. So you'll need to help attract them back to the house.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. Where do lost kittens hide in the house?
  3. Lost kittens outdoors
  4. Tips for finding lost kittens
  5. Why do kittens run away?
  6. FAQs
  7. Final thoughts

Where do lost kittens hide in the house?

Unless your kittens have already ventured into the great outdoors, the likelihood is that they have found the perfect snoozing spot somewhere in your house. Even the smallest apartments have a surprising number of hiding places for indoor cats. Start with this checklist:

Under beds: Poking your head under the bed just won't do. It's dark, and there are objects to hide behind and in. Pull out all the items under every bed in the house. Remember to do so gently while calling your kitten's name so you don't startle them.

On beds: Now, we're not talking about a cat curled up on the end of the bed. I remember when my fur baby went missing, and I eventually found her fast asleep IN a pillowcase. For this reason, you'll need to take all bedding, pillows, and blankets off the bed to double check your tiny friend hasn't settled in for the night tangled in sheets!

Cupboards, drawers, and furniture: Kittens are the greatest opportunists. If you leave a cupboard door open for a second and turn your back, you bet your curious kitty will be trying to explore this exciting new place. It's possible you didn't notice and accidentally trapped them once you shut the doors. Don't worry! Stay calm and check all the furniture throughout the house, opening doors and drawers as you go.

Move your couches: Yep, that's right. These furry little nightmares will get you uprooting your whole living room. Remove any throws or pillows from your couches and then slowly pick them up and move them to give you a full view of the underneath.

Utilities: Fridges, freezers, dryers, washing machines, and any place that could look intriguing to a brand-new kitten is worth checking. Whether they're desperate for that bit of cheese left in the fridge drawer or they want to try out the spinning washing machine, don't underestimate their determination.

Wall cavities: While you may be rolling your eyes and questioning our madness at this point, trust us. It happens more often than you think! Unless they're new builds, most houses will have some sort of hole or access to the house's inner walls. And wouldn't that make the perfect hiding spot? Search for any access points and listen for quiet meows and scratching. If successful, attract them back to the hole by leaving treats and food and calling their name.

“Unless your kittens have already ventured into the great outdoors, the likelihood is that they have found the perfect snoozing spot somewhere in your house.”

Cat standing in an empty bedroom looking at a bed

Lost kittens outdoors

It's understandable to be a little more worried if you think your kitten may be exploring the great outdoors. But, while they are curious, they are unlikely to roam too far from home. Don't assume that missing cats will return home on their own. Instead, actively search for your lost kitten in the following places:

Under cars: Kittens are likely to be afraid if they haven't gone exploring before. This means they'll try to find secluded places to hide, and this often results in kittens under cars. Not only is this dangerous if the car starts to move but there is the added risk of oil spills. When I found my timid cat hiding under a car, it took at least five baths to remove all of the oil from her fur. Remember, this is extremely toxic to cats if they try to clean themselves.

Up trees: Your kitten probably hasn't had the opportunity to climb yet, which is a natural and exciting instinct for them. They seek high vantage points because they feel safest from potential predators and other wildlife (source). Check all of the trees around your house and listen for quiet meows. Be warned; you may have to call the fire brigade to help reach your furry friend.

In hedges: Thick brambles and tangled twigs make the perfect hiding place. However, it also makes it difficult to escape once you're in. Not only can thorns and sharp sticks injure your kitten, but if they happen to become stuck, they can be very hard to find. For this reason, it's important to systematically check all hedges and bushes in your back and front garden. If they are injured, they may be unable to respond to your calls, so don't rely on listening alone.

In bins: If you own a kitten, you know they'd do anything to eat a scrap of food. If they smell an area where all your scraps end up (i.e., your bins), they'll think they've hit the jackpot. Unfortunately, if bin lids are lefts open, they can blow shut in the wind, trapping your little buddy. Check in and around all of the trash to make sure this hasn't happened.

Sheds and outhouses: Sheds provide the perfect shelter from extreme weather and predators. It's possible your kitten found a hole or a small window to enter the building but is struggling to leave again. Open up all doors and windows and get searching.

Expert Advice: When searching the outdoors, be sure to bring along their favorite food to rattle or even a squeaky toy. Cats have incredible hearing, and familiar sounds will attract them.
Small ginger lost kitten watching a butterfly near a tree

Tips for finding lost kittens

So, we've covered the most important places to start your search. But now you need some top tips to make sure you're successful. Look no further.

Chat with your neighbors

It's never too soon to recruit your neighbors for help. Ask them to search all the above places, inside and outside their homes.
By starting a PetRadar search, you can create a digital missing cat poster that will be used for sponsored ads on social media that target your neighbors. This means if they're mindlessly scrolling Instagram or Facebook, they'll see that your cat is missing in the area. We then manage all of the sightings and reports to help you through this tricky time whilst keeping your personal information anonymous from the public.
Think of it as the modern missing cat poster. And with 2.35 billion active users on Instagram alone, it's a no-brainer (source).
Alongside this, make sure you're joining WhatsApp and Facebook groups for your neighborhood to spread the message. There's also nothing wrong with the old-fashioned solution of knocking door to door.
Neighbors celebrating together after they have found the lost kittens

Attract them back home

While cats have incredible homing abilities, your kittens may not have had enough time or practice to really tap into this superpower. However, they will still have an incredible sense of smell and will be able to recognize their territory from a young age. To help them do this, try the following to lure them back home:

Leave their litter box outside

Leave blankets and clothing that they have slept on outside

Open up your doors and windows to help them hear

Leave treats and food around the outside of the house

Keep calling their name throughout the day and utilizing any familiar noises, like shaking treats and opening cans of food.

Lost kitten sat next to a food bowl on a ledge looking at the sunset

Why do kittens run away?

It can be incredibly stressful and emotional when you have lost your kitten or think they may have run away. But often, this does not reflect on you as a pet owner. Kittens can enjoy some of the most loving homes but still end up leaving. Here are some common reasons why kittens run away:


They are curious


Their home has been disturbed (loud noises, new visitors, etc.)


They don't feel safe


They are sick or injured

Lost kitten hiding in the rain under an umbrella


Can kittens find their way home if lost?

Kittens can find their way home if they are lost, but how well their homing abilities are developed depends on their age, whether they are indoors only, and how long they have lived at your house. Be sure to make your kitten wear a collar in case someone else finds them.

Kitten missing for 24 hours

Kittens can go missing for 24 hours and return home completely fine. However, it depends on your kitten's age and whether they have been outdoors before. Start searching for them immediately; it's never too soon!

Can cats find their lost kittens?

Cats have an incredible bond with their babies, and they can often find their lost kittens if they go missing. When separated, 23% of cats searched for their kittens for over a week (source).

How long does it take for a lost kitten to come home?

Cats can come back home from anywhere between 24 hours to 10 days to even years. However, kittens don't have the same developed homing abilities, so it's worth continually searching for your kitten to help them find their way.

Will my 3-month-old kitten come back?

At three months old, your kitten will be just beginning to socialize and explore a little further afield. This means they won't necessarily have developed their homing abilities fully. They likely won't travel far and should still come back, but it's important to start physically searching for them.

How do I find my lost kitten at night?

To find your lost kitten at night, do the following:

Bring treats and food to shake and leave out

Bring a torch

Don't be too loud to avoid startling your kitten

Listen for meows in answer to their name[[/faq-answer]]

I lost my kitten outside

If you have lost your kitten outside, don't panic. Open up your doors and windows and start searching the outside space. Check:

Under cars

Up trees

In hedges and bushes[[/faq-answer]]

Kitten lost in house?

Losing a kitten in the house happens more often than you would have thought. Be sure to check the following places:

Wall cavities

Utilities (washing machine, dryer, fridge)

Under and in furniture

Under and in beds[[/faq-answer]]

Final thoughts

If you still can't find your beloved kitten, it might be worth talking to animal control to organize a humane trap or opt for a visit to local animal shelters. These can give you a better chance of reuniting with them.
In the meantime, be sure to start a PetRadar search. We reunite {{foundBackPercentage}}% of furry friends with their owners and offer emotional support throughout the whole process. You're not on your own when you've got us!
Pet owner reunited with their lost kitten and hugging them close

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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