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Tips for Finding Your Lost Cat

File a Lost Cat Report with ASAP

Visit the shelter if possible and file a Lost Cat Report. Please bring a picture of your lost cat to the shelter with you. An ASAP volunteer will look in the "new arrivals" area for your cat. You will be shown any possible matches. If you cannot come to ASAP in person, you can either call the shelter to report a lost cat or file a Lost Cat Report here.

Post Lost Cat Posters

You can obtain a Lost Cat Poster either at the shelter or print one here (link). Fill out the information on the Lost Cat Poster, include a picture of your pet if you can, and make copies to post around your neighborhood. Most cats are found within a few blocks of home. Check areas where cats can hide (i.e., thick vegetation or under houses) or be trapped (i.e., sheds or garages). Many "lost cats," especially those who have been mostly indoor cats are not actually lost, but hiding nearby. For excellent and detailed information about looking for a lost cat, see this link:

Keep in Contact with ASAP

While ASAP volunteers make every effort to reunite cats with their owners, it is the owner's responsibility to actively look for a lost cat. After you have filed a lost cat report with ASAP, we recommend that you check back with us on a regular basis. Do let the volunteer you are in contact with know that you have already filed a lost cat report.

Check Craigslist

ASAP volunteers post photos and descriptions, including the location where a cat is found, of most new arrival cats on the following Craigslist page:
Please check this site frequently for information on new arrival cats. Please note that to avoid "cat theft", photos of purebred cats are not posted on Craigslist. Instead, we ask the owner to come to the shelter and provide identification (i.e., photo or vet records) proving ownership of the cat.

Check the ASAP Database

ASAP regularly posts all the cats housed at the shelter on the Pet Harbor Website. Check here often if your cat is lost.
Check with Animal Services: A cat that is easily frightened may act feral upon arrival at Animal Services. These cats are initially housed at Animal Services and not ASAP. If you suspect your cat may appear feral if in a stressful and strange situation, you can check with Animal Services to see if your cat matches the description of a cat that has been designated as feral.

Unfortunately, Animal Services personnel do bring in cats that are DOA. While it's not the type of news that you want to hear, you may want to contact Animal Services to ascertain if they have received a cat matching your cat's description and location.

Other Ways of Looking for Your Lost Cat

If your cat is not at the shelter, don't give up -- there are other ways to increase your chances of being reunited!

  • Cats generally don't venture far from home. Continue to search close to the house, especially at dawn or dusk. A shy cat will feel safer coming out of hiding at these times.
  • Common places to hide include under houses or in crawl spaces, in heavy brush, or in basements or garages. A flashlight will help you see the reflection of their eyes.
  • Post numerous Lost Cat Posters throughout your neighborhood (note that posting notices on trees is illegal). Make sure the poster is large and easy to read.
  • Knock on neighbors' doors, with a photo in hand, to ask if they have seen your cat.
  • Check the Lost & Found classifieds in the local paper.
  • Run your own ad in the Lost & Found classified section of the paper.
  • Check for "Found" signs in your neighborhood.
  • It is possible a finder took your pet directly to a veterinarian. Send or fax copies of your poster to local vets. Don't forget the emergency pet hospital: CARE, 899-2273, which is open 24 hours a day.
  • Post a free notice in the Santa Barbara lost and found section of Craigslist (

Other Things to Check

Your pet may still be in the house. Cats can hide in the most amazing places!. Be sure to check places like in the chimney, inside the torn lining of a boxspring, or behind the unopened drawers in cabinets or dressers.

  • Have any neighbors moved recently? The cat could be locked in a moving van
  • Could your cat have gotten into someone's car or delivery truck and gone across town?
  • Could the cat be locked inside the garage or house of a neighbor who is out of town?
  • Is there any home construction in the area?
  • Are there any new cats in your neighborhood who might have chased the cat off?

For More Ideas on Finding your Lost Cat

When you find your cat, we ask that you share your good news with ASAP so we can update our records.

If you find a cat

While some "stray" cats have been abandoned by their owners, many are lost. If you fnd a cat, the following steps can help assure that cat and owner are reunited.

See who is missing them! The first step is to file a Found Cat Report. If possible, take a picture of the cat.

Keep the cat safe: If you are able to house the cat while we give the owners an opportunity to find their cat, we recommend that you keep them separated from your own pets. Also please keep in mind that the cat may be microchipped. The cat should be scanned by a shelter or vet before you make the decision to keep the cat.

Bring the cat to Animal Services: If you are unable to bring the cat inside, please remember that there is no area in Santa Barbara that is safe from coyotes. It is much safer for the cat to be brought to Animal Services. No one wants to see a cat in a cage, but the alternative is much more dangerous.

Help notify the owner: To help the owner find their cat you may want to place a Craigslist ad. Include a photo of the cat, a description of where it was found, and a notation that the cat is now at Animal Services. We also have Found Cat Posters for you to post in your neighborhood.