It is a heartbreaking experience to lose a pet. But it happens quite easily and most people who have pets, go through this grim experience at least once in their lives. But don't give up – some pets have been known to return home after months.
It is always a good idea to have your pet microchipped. In that way, if it pops up at any animal organisation, you will be contacted. Tags around the neck with names and addresses are better than nothing, but they are not nearly as reliable.
But if you have lost your pet, there are quite a few things you can do to increase the chances of being reunited with your beloved cat or dog. And, often, the pets pop up in the strangest and unexpected places.
Search the house
This may seem like the obvious thing to do, but there are so many places in which smaller pets can hide, such as under furniture, under beds, in cupboards, under duvets, in boxes, in kitchen cupboards, behind appliances, inside laundry baskets – the list is endless. And don't assume your pet wouldn't crawl into any specific space. Cats love attics and basements. They do. Especially if they're not feeling well.
Search the garden
Look inside vehicles, inside the garage, and most importantly, on the roof and inside sheds. Many cats, if they are feeling ill, will try and hide themselves, and favourite places for doing this can include bins, drains, gutters, pipes, trees and the roofs of neighbours' sheds. Dogs, especially small ones, can also hide in the strangest places.
Often, if pets are trapped somewhere, they will make a noise. A friend whose cat was lost, swore he could hear it, and it turned out to be trapped inside the neighbour's roof during building operations.
Ask the neighbours
If an animal is not on your property, the best guess is that it's somewhere on a neighbour's property. Go and knock on their doors, but ask to take a look yourself in their gardens. Your pet will respond to your voice, but not necessarily to theirs. Many pets manage to get through or over fences and walls, but can't get back again. Tell all your neighbours, leave a description of your pet and your telephone number. Put a note in their postbox or leave a note on their doors if they are not at home.
Spread the word
Tell everyone who comes to your area regularly that you are looking for your pet. This includes the postman, the garbage collectors, municipal workers in the area and schoolchildren who regularly pass your house.
Put up posters/hand out flyers
A clear photograph of your pet on a poster might just do the trick. Put this up at local shops or on a few lampposts.
Phone the vets
If your animal has been injured and found by someone who doesn't know who it belongs to, it is possible that someone may have taken it to the vet. Phone a few vets in the area to hear if someone has perhaps brought your pet in.
Check with animal organisations
Find out whether your pet may be at one of the animal organisations like the SPCA. It often happens that people find the animal and take it to one of these organisations if it cannot be identified.
(Article reviewed by the SPCA, Plumstead, Cape Town branch)
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated July 2010)
- Last updated: June 2010