Finding Your Lost Cat

by Kimberly Wade

Each year, animal shelters nationwide take in millions of lost cats, and sadly, a very small number are actually reclaimed by their people—and fewer even have an identification tag or microchip. According to Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS), summer is the most popular time for cats to go missing. They, like us humans, love our summer weather, and will push all of your buttons asking to be let out—even if just for a little bit. They also aren’t exactly loyal—if your neighbor has better cat food, well, they may pick your neighbor and rehome themselves! All it takes is a few seconds for a cat to jump a fence and begin a neighborhood stroll, but as we know, this can easily lead to our favorite companion disappearing forever.

Since June of this year, WCRAS has received almost 250 lost reports for missing cats, and has seen 965 cats turned into the shelter. For the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year, 64% of dogs yet only 6% of cats that came into WCRAS were returned to their owner! Remember, though we share a building with WCRAS, they take in lost, found or abandoned pets, whereas we take in pets given up by their people. If a cat (or dog) who arrive at their facility is not reclaimed by their person after five days, the animal then comes to Nevada Humane Society to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before being placed up for adoption.

Here’s what I’m saying. If your cat goes missing, don’t just assume he’ll show up at WCRAS right away. Most cats don’t go more than a couple blocks from home, and may find a really good hiding place—especially if it’s too hot or cold, loud or stormy, the list goes on and on. Be mindful that you can’t predict when he may show up at the shelter, so it’s best to really keep looking in your neighborhood, and checking the lost and found pets at WCRAS, because you would hate to have him show up several weeks after going missing only to come to us to be placed up for adoption.

Here’s what you can do to help keep your pet safe:

  • Have him wear a breakaway collar (a special collar that stretches to let the cat escape should he get caught in a tree or other similar situation) and ID tag
  • Microchip him, and register the chip, making sure your contact info is up to date
  • Keep him inside or only allow him to go outside, in a safe area, supervised

Should you lose your pet, here’s what you can do:

  • In Washoe County, post him as lost and file a lost report with WCRAS—their website is updated every 30 minutes. You can also view lost pets online at
  • In Carson City, report a lost pet to 775-887-2171 and view lost pets online through
  • Search the neighborhood, knocking on doors of homes and visiting nearby businesses
  • Indoor cats tend to not go far, and can usually be humanely trapped within four days because they will stay nearby and will be hungry
  • Advertise by placing flyers with photos around the area and post to social media sites
  • Try the internet, searching places like Craigslist, Center for Lost Pets and Lost Pet USA
  • Don’t give up! Many pets are reunited with their people after months!

If you find a cat (or dog) you can bring them into either WCRAS or, if in Carson City, to Nevada Humane Society, where we’ll scan him for a microchip and post his photo on the website. Local veterinarians will also scan a pet for a microchip.

Let’s keep our cats safe. It keeps us happy, and them happy. And don’t forget, Washoe County residents can get a free microchip for their pets at WCRAS every Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. Nevada Humane Society also offers low-cost microchipping when you have your pet spayed or neutered with us, and during our public vaccine clinics, which are every Saturday from 1pm to 3pm at our veterinary clinic.

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