DIY tips for finding a lost pet

How to find a lost animalI have had several people coming to me recently looking for help with finding their lost pets. So I decided to write down some ideas about what can be done to find a lost pet. It is a terrible feeling to lose a pet, but let’s review a few ways of trying to find the pet. Remaining calm; when we are calm, we tend to think clearer. Feel free to use my meditation to calm yourself and maybe connect and communicate with your animal mentally

Here is a list of things that one could do, if you have anything to add to the list, I would love if you added it to the comment section below!

Start the search right-away

The quicker you start looking for the animals the more likely it is that they are close-by. A scared animal can travel a long way in a very short period of time.

Look through your house

This might seem obvious, but surprisingly often animals (especially cats) can find brand new places to sleep that we could have never thought about. Call your pet and check inside the couch, behind the washing machines, in closets etc. any place that might seem like a place they can fit.

Searching outside (mostly for cats, but some might apply to dogs also)

  1. Call the animal! Go outside with old clothing that has your smell on it and drag it on the ground making trails to your home. Cats and dogs have a very strong sense of smell, so once they find a familiar smell, they can follow that to find their way home. Do this daily and change the clothing so that the smell remains strong. Continue calling the animal and asking neighbors to be on the lookout.
  2. Search and call different times of the day. Go out at night, when it is quieter and call for them, also use the hours at dawn and twilight to contact them. These are good times because that is when they might travel and be less scared and are more likely to come out when called.
  3. food bowlPlace a bowl of food and a bowl of water in the yard close to your house. This will keep or draw the animal back home when they get thirsty and hungry.
  4. Walk around your house and nearby areas, calling the animal and carry smelly food like sardines or tuna. A strong smelling food can trigger a hungry animal’s senses and attract them.
  5. Place your clothing with your smell on it outside your home. If you have yard, put your clothing in each corner of the yard to help them find their way home. This doesn’t mean that you have to choose and ruin your good clothing; you can for example take a piece of cloth and rub it on your skin to get your smell on it.
  6. Look outside of your neighborhood, since the animal might have gotten scared and disorientated and just kept traveling.

Place used cat litter outside

For an indoor cat, take some of their used litter and place it right outside your house for the smell. The smell works as a territory marker and attracts the house cat back to their smell.

Local shelters, animal control and feral cat caretakers

Check with the local animal shelters every couple of days to see if someone has brought your pet in. Also, leave your name and phone number and a description of the animal and a picture so that they can identify the animal and let you know if they are brought in.

kitty with food bowlMany places have local feral cat caretakers that spay and neuter the feral cats, and feed and water them. Notify them and give your information and the description of your cat, so they can let you know if they see the cat.

Local papers and Internet sites

Often times the local papers let you post lost pet-ads for free, so take advantage of those! There are a lot of different local internet sites and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that can help you find the pet. The more people know about your lost pet the better!

Make a “LOST” –flyer

Make your own flyer and post it everywhere: local stores, telephone poles, give it out to neighbors etc. It is very simple to make your own flyer with Microsoft Word, but make sure you have at least the following information:

  • “LOST” on the top of the page with big letters
  • Big photo of the pet!
  • Description of the pet
  • Personality
  • Name of the pet
  • Your phone number and email address
  • Tell them if they should try to approach the pet or if it’s a shy animal, tell them to just call you
  • Where and when was it seen last

On the subject of making a flyer, you can find a lot of LOST PET – templates on Google and also more tips. You can print it out on your printer or print a bunch of flyers by going to a local print shop or office supply store and have them print it out for you.

Don’t give up to early!

Even if it seems hopeless to find your animal, don’t give up! Animals can survive for a long time on their own and they may find their way home eventually.


Here are some thoughts on how to prevent your animal from getting loose and lost.

It is important to always have a recent picture available, so that if you need one, you’ve got it. You have a good, clear photo to show people! And of course it’s always nice to have photos of our animals!

dog in a leashAlso, during the spring time, it is especially important to keep an eye on your dogs and cats as that is the time of the year that excites their senses. Don’t have your dog running around loose, because as everything smells stronger and fresher, they are likely to go after the smell. Playing more with your animal in the spring is a good way to satisfy their extra energy. With house cats, having container of growing grass and providing them catnip usually satisfies their sense of seeking green in the spring time.

kitty playingAlso, it’s a good idea to have a note by your doorway of your house to inform people that there are animals inside and not to let them out. So that when they walk in they know to be careful and not let a dog or cat out. Also, train your animal to come when you call their name by giving them a food treat.

These are some tips that might be helpful and there are a lot more online. If you have any ideas, thoughts, or stories, please feel free to post them below! We’d love to hear them!


4 Responses to DIY tips for finding a lost pet

  1. It is also important to microchip your pet. I was at my vet yesterday and found out that they can scan the pet and get the number to call and update the information. Mine have not been updated for 10 years because I did not know how to so now I know. The vet said many pets have been returned to owners because of the microchips. So get them microchipped and keep them updated.

  2. Miri says:

    Sometimes my cats find spots in the house where I cannot see them and if they are sleeping they may not hear me calling, plus the shy ones don’t always come when called. I just open some canned cat food and do a head count. Yup, sure enough they are all there.

    • Suzanne M. Slater says:

      That is a great point. The first place to look, for sure is your home. Cats are clever at hiding! Opening a cat food can is a great idea, even if your cat is lost outside, opening a can outside they would recognize that sound and hopefully come

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