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When a House Cat Escapes

Walter, Just Cats’ handsome “house” cat escaped a few months ago while staying with a foster family in the area. With the clinic closed due to the pandemic, we knew this very social boy would be happier in a home with more human contact.

Here’s what happened next.

Walter’s foster mom frantically walked around calling him. She set a have-a-heart trap and a half-hour later caught a raccoon.

The next day, staff from Just Cats pitched in and searched the neighborhood. It was Monday morning and Walter was gone since 10 pm the night before. The biggest worry: busy Western Avenue was right beyond the curb.

Honestly, everyone thought he was gone – not run away gone, but off to kitty heaven gone. He only knew life as a house cat in the protection and attention of his loving Just Cats and his temporary foster home.

Of course none of us gave up. We helped by putting out food and suggesting the family open their garage door. By 2 pm someone down the street looked under her deck and found him. Within an hour, Walter was meowing his translation of “why’s everyone all in a fuss?”
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This reminded us that no matter how careful we are, our indoor cats can be escape artists when we least expect it – even when they never tried it before – like seemingly content Walter.

Here are some tips to lure your furry loved one back home if they do sneak out. But, as we’ve been reminded, the best answer is prevention. Be diligent around doors and other escape routes to keep a house cat from getting outside in the first place. And don’t assume they’ll never try, just because he or she never before showed interest in leaving your comfy home. 

Like any other disappearing act, quick action is best. The steps you take in the first few hours can give you the best chance for return of your fleeing feline.

5 Ways to lure your cat back home

1. Leave your garage door open a crack. Cats prefer sneaking home. If the garage is attached to the house, they may sit at the interior door and scratch and meow. If it’s unattached, at least they are home and safe until you go out and find them (or they find you).

2. Appeal to their sense of smell. Put articles of worn clothing, a slept-on pillowcase, a used bath mat or towel outside along with kitty's favorite bed or blanket. These are familiar scents that will appeal to your cat.

3. Use food to entice. Regular cat food won't do the trick. Heat up sardines, tuna or some other smelly food they may like, then put it outside. Reheat every so often to keep the aroma strong.

4. Cats respond to their human's normal speaking voice, not a sad or frantic voice calling their name and pleading with them to return while shaking a bag of treats. Use your normal voice as if sitting outside chit-chatting or talking on the phone. Isn’t that when most cats seem to appear to do figure eights around your ankles or jump on your lap?

5. Brew a pot of coffee and plan for a sleepless night. Most cat owners report their cat returning home between dusk and dawn. Sleep on the ground floor to listen for scratches or meows during the night or use a baby monitor to keep an ear open. Once they find themselves at your door, you’ll want to know asap so you can relax knowing your beloved one is back and unharmed.

“Honey I’m home . . . I just stepped out for the night!"

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Ask us about microchips....a tiny device our veterinarians inject beneath the surface of your cat's skin between the shoulder blades. If your beloved feline gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique ID code. A microchip provides your feline with permanent identification to give them the best chance of coming home.