Guest Post by Melissa
(Note, Melissa in the neighborhood expert on retrieving lost cats)
First, find a photo that shows the full animal, or as close to that as possible. Make prints with your computer's printer on a standard sheet of typing paper. Some experts advise that you use a neon sheet of paper as a background or border because it draws more attention.
Post signs within a few block radius of your home or last place you saw your cat. Put up your posters every quarter street if possible and at every intersection. Use a staple gun. Put up new posters after a good rain. All the ink of your picture is going to fade or run in the rain, unless you have laminated each sheet, which is expensive. If you have the stamina, place flyers under the door of all the houses you possibly can. A lot of people don't read signs, but they get their mail..
Describe the cat on the poster with it's Gender, it's Name, if it is Neutered or spayed, approximate Age and Weight, description of his hair color and his eyes. Include details like if Kitty is wearing a decorative color.
LEAVE OUT A SPECIFIC IDENTIFYING DETAIL, so that if you get a call, you can ask the caller about this detail and be sure if s/he has your cat. Many cat finders make mistakes, and you'll run to a location to get a cat that looks nothing like yours,. You have to be prepared with what you will do if this happens. What will you do with the cat if the people won't keep it? Are you in touch with no-kill facilities near where you live, where the cat could go if you don't take it?
Call all the local vets within a few miles and take photos for them to post in their offices. Often people who find cats and are considering keeping them will take them to a vet for a check-up.
Call the Animal Control Board, which here in Philadelphia is the intake arm for S.P.C.A. I understand that they are doing the best they can do with a huge volume of animals that they couldn't accommodate, but you will have to work quickly if your cat is there. They are usually too busy to talk on the phone, it's best to go down there in person as many times a week as possible. I think they are open to 10:00 PM. They will not let you take a tour of the cages yourself, but it is not a long wait for a nice guide.
Cat behaviorists will tell you that most cats are hiding close to home. sometimes even on your property.
Leave dirty old socks and articles of clothing or rags that you don't care about in alleys or bushes near your home so a lost cat can pick up your scent.
It was advised to me by a behaviorist at Penn Vet to set up a shelter box for her, which I did in the alley, in case she couldn't shimmy back over the fence. You can use a cardboard or plastic container large enough so your cat can lay down on some bedding, eat and stay out of the cold or rain. it is very possible that other cats will use it, but that doesn't matter.
Penn Vet also advised me to set up a trap on the property, 2 if possible, one in an area covered up and one out in the open. Put lures inside the trap, like Kitty's favorite treats. You might trap a different cat, and smaller animals may get the food without setting off the trap, so check the trap often, free stray cats, and replace the treats.
Stop in Pet Shops and Grooming Shops and ask them to put posters on their windows. Local businesses are usually happy to help.
It is also possible to contact legitimate Animal Communicators. I know the Web is filled with a lot of nonsense, but I have come one who is truly awesome and while she would not permit me to publish her number here, I know how to reach her. (Write geezer-chick to contact Melissa)
When searching the alleys and byways of the neighborhood, remember to keep cats' hours. They are out and about in the morning before the sun comes up at this time of year and again anytime after 5PM is a good time to look as it is dark so early.
I am thanking God ahead of time that you find your cat.