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Home > Cats > My Cat Got Out of the House! Here’s What to Do

My Cat Got Out of the House! Here’s What to Do

cat on the fence

If your cat has gotten out of your house, the first thing you need to do is stay calm. Don’t run after your cat or lose your bearings, as this can push your feline further from your house. Instead, take a few deep breaths and think about what direction your cat is going.

Read on below to find out more about some steps you can take to find your cat and bring them back home.


First Steps

Most cats that aren’t used to the outdoors do not go very far. They look for a hiding place and go there. So, look around and consider where your cat may have considered a hiding place. Underneath furniture and bushes are common places. Do a sweep of the area, checking under and in anything your cat may be hiding in.

As you do so, call your cat’s name calmly. If they are readily available, grab some treats or your cat’s food. Most felines will be scared if they aren’t used to being outside, so they may need some extra coaxing to come out of their hiding spot.

If your search doesn’t turn up anything, put out some food and your cat’s litterbox. Cats know what their litterbox smells like, and it can help guide them home if they’ve gone too far away. Often, patience will help you find a feline that’s scared and hiding.

A cat hiding under a couch
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Still No Cat?

If you haven’t found your feline after a few hours, it’s time to move on to further steps. In some cases, the cat will run and continue running, often because they are scared of something. If this happened to your cat, they may not know their way back.

Luckily, tame cats know that people are friends and will seek out humans in most cases, though it may take them a few days to get hungry. In the meantime, you can spread the word that your cat is missing by putting up posters. Use a recent picture of your cat and put it up where people may see it a few miles around your home. That way, if your cat does wander up to someone looking for food, they will know they’re missing.

You should also contact animal shelters and veterinary clinics. Let them know your cat is missing and provide them with a description. If possible, visit their practice and give them a flyer, as well. On the off chance that your cat is taken to one of these locations, it helps to already have a poster there identifying them.

You should also post on social media. There are often local lost pet groups on Facebook and other social media websites. Post that your cat is missing, perhaps including a picture of your poster. This helps spread the word a bit more than posters might.

You may also want to consider going door-to-door in your neighborhood. Many cats do not go very far, and going to your neighbors helps ensure that more eyes are looking for them. Ask them to keep an eye out for your cat and provide them with contact information in case you notice them.

couple putting missing cat banner
Image Credit: StockMediaSeller, Shutterstock

Do Cats Come Back Home After They Run Away?

In many cases, cats do come home after they run away. Most felines exhibit some sort of “homing” behavior. This means that they can often find their way back home after they get outside. They use their sense of smell and direction to do this, and you can help them accomplish this by placing their food and litterbox outside. Sadly, indoor-only cats are much less likely to locate their home after running away. However, they are also not very likely to go very far, as they aren’t familiar with the outdoors.

There are a few reasons why cats might run away. They may be seeking adventure, looking for a mate, or trying to escape from a stressful situation. But even if they run away, most cats will eventually find their way back home.

The best thing you can do is spread the word that your cat is missing. Having many pairs of eyes looking for your cat is better than only one. If people know your cat is missing, they’re much more likely to pay attention to a wandering cat and give you a call.

Finding a lost cat can take longer than many people may think, though. If your cat isn’t in the immediate area, it may take them a week or more to wander back home. This is because cats tend to hide and not come out for the first few days. They may not move from their original hiding spot until they become hungry, at which point they will hopefully wander back home.

moggy cat outdoor
Image Credit: chrisbrignell, Shutterstock

How Far Do Cats Go When They Run Away?

After they get outside, cats often run for a minute and then find a hiding place. If you’re in a neighborhood, cats probably won’t go more than three to four houses away. In a more open area, cats may only go an acre or so in one direction, assuming they can find a hiding spot in that area.

After finding a place to hide, cats often stay there as long as it is safe and dry. They may not wander out for days, so don’t give up hope if they don’t immediately come back. Put out food and their litterbox to prompt them to come back home after they come out of hiding. Calling for them can also help, but many cats will stay put until they are hungry.

For this reason, you may want to call for them around your neighborhood for several days. At first, your cat may be full and scared. However, after a few days, their hunger will start overpowering their fear, and they may finally come to your call.


Final Thoughts

It isn’t odd for cats to run outside and get lost for one reason or another. Often, indoor cats become fearful after a few seconds outside, which can make them bolt. Usually, they hide somewhere close by and can be found with a bit of searching.

If you cannot find them, putting out food and their litterbox can help lead them to where they need to go. In many cases, the cat may find their way back home using their nose thanks to the familiar scents of their food and litterbox.

However, if their hiding spot is safe and dry, they may stay hidden for several days until they get hungry. In the meantime, you can spread the word that they are lost by calling veterinary clinics, putting up posters, and talking to your neighbors.


Featured Image Credit: GOR Photo, Shutterstock

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