What To Do If Your Indoor Cat Accidentally Gets Outside

An Emergency Guide

As a cat owner, you may choose to keep your cat indoors for many several reasons. Perhaps there could be dangerous predators in your area, or maybe you live in an apartment with no decent outdoor space. Whatever your motive, one frightening and common occurrence many indoor cat owners find themselves in is their fur baby accidentally getting outside. 

Despite your best efforts to entertain them indoors, felines are curious creatures. Leaving the door open for a brief moment can be enough for your kitty to run out and explore. Moreover, when a cat wants to get out, they can move so quickly that it's nearly impossible to catch them before they escape. 

Whether your indoor cat is currently missing or you want to prepare yourself in case it ever happens, we've put together a step-by-step emergency guide. 

Read on to learn what you should (and shouldn't) do if your indoor cat has run outside. Knowing how to handle this situation correctly will significantly increase your chances of a safe return in no time. 

Remain Calm

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

We know it's easier said than done, but it's essential to stay calm before you go out calling for your kitty. This is because your cat will sense the change in your voice. If you're screaming and shouting for your feline with panic in your voice, this could frighten them and make them feel like they are in trouble or being scolded. They will then hide from you, making it even more difficult to find them.

Your indoor cat has probably rarely been in this outside environment, so the surroundings will feel unfamiliar and overwhelming. Call your kitty's name in a way that will make them feel calm and safe by using the tone of voice you would use if they were inside.

Check Common Hiding Spots Outside Your Home

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

Your instinct will probably already call you to do this but be sure to check all-around your house or apartment building, including behind. Look in any bushes as well as under trees and cars. If you live in an apartment, check the inside and outside staircases and scan all floors. 

Try to put yourself in your cat's shoes (or paws in this instance). Most indoor cats are not used to the outside world, and once they are out there, they don't feel confident to stay out in the open. 

Therefore, they will likely seek out a hiding spot. Cats will usually stay within a 3-4 house radius from home base as long as they can find a place to retreat within that distance. Therefore, be sure to check your immediate surroundings thoroughly before venturing out further.  

Call Them Back With Food

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

If you have no luck finding your cat after your initial search, try to entice them back to you with food. Shake their treat bag, open a can of wet food, or make noise with their bowl. Cat's have a great sense of hearing, so if your kitty is within close enough range, they will come running towards the sound. You can also try walking around the area shaking their food bag and calling their name. 

Spread Their Scent Outside Your Home

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

Do you know which of your feline's senses is even stronger than sound? Smell. Cat's can smell 1000 times better than us and detect their own scent from a great distance. 

So, if your kitty has run too far and lost its way, use their scent to help guide them home. Placing their favorite blanket or even their food bowl outside can work, but the most effective way is to put their litter box out. 

Spread The Word

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

If the above steps have brought no luck, go around knocking on your neighbors' doors to let them know that your cat is missing. Show them a photo of your kitty, or better yet, give them a photocopy. Even if they haven't seen your fur baby, by making them aware, they can keep their eye out; some may even offer to help you look.

After speaking with your neighbors, put up posters with photos and detailed information of your cat as well as your contact details. Check for local community groups on Facebook too, and post in there to get the word out. 

Search During The Early Morning And Late Evening

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

Although your cat probably retreated to a safe spot initially, they won't hide out forever. Cat's are nocturnal and most active when the sun goes down and before it comes up. This is also when they get most hungry and hunt for food. 

Therefore, during the night and early in the morning are the best times to look for your missing cat. It's also much quieter, so your kitty will feel more confident to hunt and explore. Use a flashlight as you search to catch their eyes in the light.

Call Local Shelters And Vets

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

In the event that someone already found your cat, they might have taken it to a local vet or animal rescue center. Make a list of all vets, animal hospitals, rescues, and shelters and start calling around. 

Whenever a vet or a shelter has a lost cat come into their care, they check if it has a microchip. With a microchip, they can access your information and contact you. Therefore, if your cat has one, your chances of getting them back safe and sound are much higher. 

If your feline doesn’t have a microchip, continue to check in with shelters daily by calling them and go there in person to give photos of your kitty too. 

Don’t Give Up!

What to do if your indoor cat accidentally gets outside

It can feel absolutely heartbreaking to lose a pet, and with each day that passes, you can become more and more disheartened. However, you mustn't lose hope or give up the search. There have been numerous cases where owners have reunited with their furry companion weeks, months, and even years after they went missing. 

While it can be easy to let your mind wander to the worst-case scenario, try to remain positive and hopeful. The more ways you try to locate your lost cat, the more likely you will find them. Good luck!