What Are the Chances of a Lost Cat Returning Home?

Getting Kitty a collar and tag will increase the chance he'll make it home.
i George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You got home expecting to be greeted by your favorite furry friend, but Kitty is nowhere to be found. You have a moment of terror-filled panic upon realizing the window was left open and Kitty escaped. If Kitty was wearing a tag, however, there's a good chance you'll be reunited.

Lost Pet Survey

In a five-year survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, during which more than 1,000 pet parents were polled, the ASPCA found that 15 percent of homes with a pet had lost a pet in the past five years. Even though more dogs are outside pets than cats, the percent of dogs lost and cats lost was nearly identical; 14 percent lost dogs and 15 percent lost cats. On a positive note, 75 percent of runaway kitties were returned home to their pet parents.

Collar and Tag

Wearing a collar and ID tag could be the difference between never seeing Kitty again and a happy reunion. His collar isn't just to make him look well-dressed, he should always have an ID tag on it. It should say your pet's name, your phone number, your address and possibly the information for his vet or other emergency contact. If you have to move or get a new number, make sure his tag is updated. Give it a peek every now and again to make sure the tag isn't difficult to read; if so, it should be replaced. Remember, Kitty collars should never be too tight and you should opt for a break-away or stretch collar for Kitty. These collars will keep him from strangling himself should he get hung up in a tree or under a fence.


Since cat collars are designed to be slipped off if Kitty is in danger, getting him microchipped can provide a second line of defense. Microchipping involves injecting a rice-sized chip under his scruff. These chips can be scanned to retrieve important contact information. Most vets and shelters will scan a lost pet to see if he's chipped. It's relatively inexpensive, especially since it could mean a stray kitty coming home. However, not all readers can read all chips. Since it isn't visible, a microchip won't help your friendly neighbor down the street bring Kitty home. Even if you get him chipped, he should wear a collar and tag.

Finding Kitty

Even if Kitty was wearing a tag and you had him chipped, there are some things you can do to increase the odds of finding him. If you've got the money, there are pet detectives that use dogs to track a lost pet's scent. Beware of anyone who claims a 100 percent success rate and ask people you know for references to avoid a scam. Make sure you get the word out. Let your neighbors know Kitty has pulled a Houdini. Post signs around your neighborhood and put an ad in the newspaper. Most vets and pet stores will let you post signs with your Kitty's picture and your information so he can be returned home. Visit local vets and shelters daily to see if your friend has been dropped off there. Remember to be persistent, and don't give up if you haven't found him in a day or two. Sometimes he may come back on his own after he's done a little site-seeing. Getting your cat spayed or neutered will help curb his desire to roam and establish a territory.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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