How To Car...

How To Care For Your Lost Cat After They Come Home

By Andrea Quarracino | September 28, 2021

Reuniting with your lost cat is a cause for celebration. But while you feel elated, your cat may need some time to readjust and might feel a bit on edge from their big adventure. We've gathered some tips on what to do when your lost cat returns home. 

What To Do When Your Lost Cat Returns Home

First, let your cat decompress.

"Unless there are signs of injury or illness, it's best to let your pet rest and relax once they return home," says Amy-Jo Sites, director for Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control↗. "They probably experienced high levels of stress and anxiety when they were away, and those stress hormones can take up to three days to exit the body."  

Give your cat some food.

It is possible your cat has not been eating as much as she used to while she was lost. While your first instinct may be to spoil her with treats, you’ll want to offer high-protein food and water in small to moderate quantities for the first day after her return so as to not overwhelm her system or cause liver damage.

Give your cat a bath.

Since you don’t know exactly what she was getting into, freshen your cat's coat up and get rid of pesky fleas and ticks that may be in her fur. Wash away the excess dirt and grime that may have built up from being lost.

Bring your cat to the vet.

It's essential to make sure that your found cat is physically healthy when they return home, and it's also good to be aware that going to the veterinarian can be stressful for an already stressed-out cat. If you're confident that your cat isn't hurt or sick, give them a little time to acclimate and then head in for a checkup.

You don’t know what your cat was up to while she was away, and while you can check for injuries yourself, the vet can check for infected wounds or parasites. The vet can also perform a physical exam and take fecal and blood samples for analysis. Then, he or she will give expert advice on treatment options, diet plans or feeding schedules to restore your feline back to full health. If your cat refuses to eat, she may need IV fluids or injectable vitamins.

Allow some time to readjust.

As your cat settles back in, gets cleaned up, fed, and rested, try to eliminate guests or reduce the number of visitors in the initial days upon return. "It can be extremely traumatic for pets to break from their normal routines," says Amy-Jo Sites. "Give them the time they need to reacclimate, relax and destress without extra traffic in and out of the house."

How To Prevent Your Cat From Getting Lost Again

Secure your home.

Now that your cat is back home where they belong, make a plan to ensure that they stay safe going forward. Amy-Jo Sites says that it's crucial to involve the whole family in devising a strategy to keep your cat from getting lost again. Make sure everyone in your household is attuned to your cat's personality to anticipate potential issues.  

For example, if your cat has a tendency to dart out the front door, talk with everyone in your household about ways to avoid that outcome. And if there's a home repair that needs to happen — like a broken window screen your cat could push through — address it before your favorite feline has a chance to go exploring again.

Microchip your cat.

Is your cat microchipped? If not, this is an excellent time to make that appointment. While a microchip can't prevent your cat from getting lost, it can be the first line of response to connecting you with your cat if they happen to go missing again.  

Prepare your cat for major life events.

As with people, it's a good idea to prepare your pets for significant life events. If you have a big change coming up, like moving to a new house, be particularly mindful of how this may impact your cat. Not only is moving stressful (for everyone!), but it can create opportunities for a cat to get lost.

Do cats get lost when you move? Sometimes. Be sure to take the following steps to keep your cat contained:

  • Put your cat in a carrier where they can feel safe and keep them out of the heart of the commotion.

  • Allow your cat to acclimate to their new home slowly, in a safe place where they can't slip outside.

  • Remember that big celebrations, like housewarming parties, can add to your cat's stress. Be sure to secure your cat in a quiet place during these events, and be extra careful to keep doors shut so your cat can't go missing.  

Can Cats Find Their Way Home if Lost?

Yes. According to Lost Pet Research & Recovery, some cats can find their way home through homing behavior,↗ meaning "the inherent ability of an animal to navigate towards an original location through unfamiliar areas." Homing behavior seems to be most prevalent in cats that were regularly allowed outdoors, and over half of homing incidents took place when a cat was lost.  

With a bit of planning and consideration, you can help ensure that your cat remains happy, healthy, and home. And if the unexpected happens, Petco Love Lost has the resources and support you need to bring your best friend back again.


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