What to Do if Your Cat Gets Out: 3 Steps for Fast Results

Key takeaways

Owning an indoor kitty means you don’t have to worry about rival cats, busy roads, or pet theft. However, it does mean your beloved friend hasn’t got the street sense to navigate the outside world.

This means if (and let’s be honest, it’s more likely ‘when’) your cat attempts an escape, it can be potentially dangerous.

In this article, we’ll explore what to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets out. It’s an incredibly stressful situation, and it’s understandable to feel hopeless and even useless. But don’t fret. Keep calm and follow our advice.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. 1. Start at home
  3. 2. Call upon your neighbors
  4. 3. Prep for the next day
  5. Let us help you
  6. FAQs
  7. Final thoughts

1. Start at home

Before imagining your missing cat weaving in and out of busy roads, start closer to home. Unless you've recently moved home, your cat's probably tapping into their homing abilities and finding their way back to you. Help them out and start the search around your property, and most importantly, remain calm.

For apartment buildings

If your little friend isn’t used to the outdoors, they most likely haven’t traveled far. So, if you live in an apartment building, check the communal areas, like:

Behind bins

Behind counters

Underneath furniture

In neighboring flats (with permission, of course)


Elevators (yep, they're impressive escape artists)


Communal gardens

For more information, check out our detailed guide on how to find a cat in an apartment complex.

"Unless you've recently moved home, your cat's probably tapping into their homing abilities and finding their way back to you."

Pet owner searching for their lost cat in outdoor spaces of the apartment complex

For houses

If you live on the ground floor or in a house, thoroughly examine the outside space. Even if you don’t have a garden, these curious kitties will find every nook and cranny fit for a house cat. Be sure to check off the following places:


In and around bins

In hedges and bushes (cats can get stuck in thick shrubbery)

Under cars

Under garden furniture

Up trees

Black cat hiding next to an orange car

2. Call upon your neighbors

Still nothing? Don’t lose hope. Instead, alert your neighbors. This systematic approach will give you a better chance of locating your lost cat. After all, 75% of cats are found within a 500m radius of their point of escape, so branching out will improve the odds of reuniting with your best buddy (source).

Social media

It’s likely you may already be in a group chat for your street, but if not, ask someone to invite you to one. This is a fantastic way to communicate with all of your neighbors at once, without knocking on doors.
Here, you can send photos of your cat and any helpful information, like whether your cat is timid or an avid adventurer. Here are some helpful tips to remember when spreading the message:

Detailed description: 'A black cat with a white tip tail' just won't cut it. Describe specific traits like physical features that stand out, whether they're friendly or timid, whether they're microchipped, whether they are vocal or silent, and anything else you can think of.

Practical and detailed information: Remember to let your neighbors know how old your cat is, their name, whether they are indoor or outdoor, and where they live. You can always give an approximate location if you're reluctant to share personal information.

Direct your neighbors: Suggest your neighbors open their front door, windows, and bedroom doors in case your cat was hiding in their house and became trapped. You can also ask if they'd mind popping a food bowl or treat bag on their window ledge to help attract your hungry friend.

"75% of cats are found within a 500m radius of their point of escape, so branching out will improve the odds of reuniting with your best buddy"

A cat owner looking at their phone and posting about their missing cat on social media. Their cat is in the window watching them.

Go door-to-door

It's been proven that a physical search for a missing indoor cat can improve the chances of reuniting (source). This is why recruiting as many neighbors as possible is the best move for your lost kitty.
If a group chat isn’t an option, then it’s time to go knocking on your neighbors' doors. Kindly ask your neighbors if you could start looking in their front gardens, back gardens, porches, and under cars. Whilst you do this, they can check inside their homes in case your kitty has been trying to nab some extra cuddles or snacks.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to bring your cat’s favorite treats along for them to sniff!
Open door with two neighbors talking and a small cat sitting next to them

3. Prep for the next day

Despite your best efforts, you still may not find any sign of your buddy. Don't lose hope, it's just time to up the ante.

Call local shelters

Once home, call your local animal shelter. It can be surprising how quickly a cat can be found and taken to a rescue home. It can be even more surprising how quickly shelters can put cats up for adoption if they are not claimed.
For this reason, be proactive. Call often for updates, and visit them in person to double-check cats that match your description.
alAnimal shelter workers surrounded by pets that have been foundt_text

Lure your cat back home

Our fluffy friends have an incredible sense of smell, with over 200 million odor senses in their noses (source). To put that into context, we humans only have 5 million.
To tap into this superpower, leave out your cat’s favorite food alongside their litter tray and a jumper or blanket of yours they sleep on.
This can be tricky, depending on where you live. If litter trays and food aren’t appropriate in a flat building, or you’re worried about attracting creepy crawlies, opt for pillows and blankets.

"Our fluffy friends have an incredible sense of smell, with over 200 million odor senses in their noses. To put that into context, we humans only have 5 million."

Animal shelter workers surrounded by pets that have been found

Create a missing cat poster

Once you feel like you’ve done everything you can, focus on how you can keep the community engaged and looking for your cat. A great way to do this is with a missing cat poster. Pick an attention-grabbing image and include some helpful information so people can easily identify your pet.
Quantity and reach are key. As we know, cats can travel far, especially if they are lost. Be sure to stick posters up in popular areas of your neighborhood, like:

Community centers



For more detailed advice on how to perfect your poster, check out our complete guide and template here.
Example missing cat poster by PetRadar

Let us help you

If nothing has worked so far, you’re probably understandably distressed. It’s time to tap further into one of the most powerful platforms of the current generation—social media.
At PetRadar, we help you find your best pet friend by creating advertisements for your missing cat on Instagram and Facebook. You can set the radius from your home as far as you like, meaning the ad will be seen by as many people as possible who may have spotted your fur baby.
You can keep an eye on how many people have seen your advertisement while we help you manage any messages received. These real-time sightings can offer insight into your cat’s activity, making it easier to track them down.
It’s a fantastic way to reach a larger demographic and increase your chances of reuniting with your pet with a {{foundBackPercentage}} success rate.
Images and reviews of cats that PetRadar have helped return home


How do I attract my cat back home?

To attract your cat back home, it's essential to use their incredible sense of smell. By leaving their litter box, wet food, or blankets that smell like home, it'll make it easier for your cat to find their way home. It's also important to get your cat microchipped in case they are handed in to a vet.

How do cats find their way home?

Cats have an incredible sense of smell and fantastic hearing ability, which they use to find their way home. Their homing abilities mean that cats can travel for miles and still locate their home. If your cat hasn't found its way home, then a humane trap might help.

Do cats come back home after running away?

Whether your cat comes back home after running away depends on the reason it ran away, to begin with. If your cat was in heat, it's likely it ran away to mate. This means it's also likely it will return afterwards. However, if something around your house prompted the escape, like a new pet or disruptive noises, you're cat may not return on its own.

How long should my cat be missing before I start to worry?

If you have an indoor cat that has escaped, you should be immediately proactive in finding them. However, if you have an outdoor cat you might be less inclined to worry. Either way, you should start your search immediately, as you're much more likely to find your cat within the first 24 hours of them going missing.

Why do indoor cats run away?

Reasons for indoor cats to run away include:

Your cat's in heat and is seeking a mate

You have recently moved home

There is a new pet in the house

Their routine has become disrupted

They are sick or injured

They are nearing death

Loud noises in the home

Other cats in the neighborhood are threatening them

Your cat is pregnant and looking for somewhere to give birth[[/faq-answer]]

Can a cat survive outside?

The short answer is yes, a cat can survive outside. However, if you own an indoor cat it won't have the same survival skills as an indoor-outdoor cat. This means predators, busy roads, and extreme weather can put your kitty at risk if they don't find a safe hiding spot.

What are the odds of finding a missing cat?

64% of cats are found after going missing, so the odds of finding your kitty are in your favor!

Where do cats go when they go outside?

Where your cat ventures when they go outside depends on their personality. Outgoing and adventurous kitties may spend more time exploring neighbors' houses in an attempt to get some more affection and treats. More independent cats will spend time in abandoned buildings, fields, and farms, staying away from unnecessary human interactions and settling in a safe spot.

Final thoughts

One way to help with the nerves of a missing pet is to be proactive. Following these tips in a calm manner will increase your chances of finding your loved one as soon as possible.
So far, we have reunited lost pets with their owners and have an incredible 4.9 rating on Google and Trustpilot. Our main priority is to support you until your cat is back safe and sound.
If you’re currently looking for help, reach out to us. If not, remember this option for the next time your cat fancies an adventure.

Written by

Image of the author
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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