Lost cats are recovered about 32% of the time according to APR's statistics. National statistics show that lost cats are recovered less than 10% of the time: Grim findings, indeed.
Of all the lost cat reports handled by APR over a ten year period, 98% were described as outside (free-to-roam) and fewer than 4% of them were wearing collars and tags! APR has always kept separate cat and dog lost and found recovery statistics because we recognized early on how different the two species are. Similarly, many pet owners (I prefer to use the term "pet guardians") look after their cats differently than they do their dogs.
Most of APR's lost cat clients allowed their cats to roam free, far more than APR's lost dog clients. It's not that cats are less valued than dogs, although you might conclude as much, but the nature and behavior of cats is less understood, and their guardians don't ask themselves "Is my cat safe out there?" Here is some information that I hope cats and their guardians will benefit from:
Cats Are Pre-disposed To Permanent Loss Because Of:
Short Term Memory: Kittens separated from their siblings and mother for as little as 24hours will be rejected as unrecognized by the family and banished from the group. Cats older than 1 year retain memory for about 72 hours however, if they remain on unfamiliar territory past this time, they generally react to all people and pets as strangers.
Nocturnal By Nature: Cats, when removed from their regular food source (become lost) instinctively revert to being active only at night.
Solitary By Nature: Adult cats (over 1 year old) don't suffer loneliness and don't crave the company of other cats; they are social only to a degree. If two or more cats are seen in close proximity to one another outside, it's because they are 1; squabbling and/or about to fight 2; mating or attempting to and 3; are members of the same family group and have not been separated longer than 72 hours.
Creatures Of Habit: Cats are easily stressed by environmental changes. Some examples of what causes stress in cats are; packing in preparation of moving and the actual move itself, the new addition of pets or people to the home (especially new cats), visitors to the home, rearranging of furniture, veterinary visits and other trips away from home, etc.
The above applies to all cats but is especially important if cats are allowed to roam freely outside. The following is offered to all responsible cat guardians; may you continue to love, protect and hold dear the life of all those in your care.
CAT LOSS-PREVENTION TIPS
- Spay or neuter all cats BEFORE 6 months of age. A female cat can have her first heat cycle as early as 5 months.
- Outside cats can never be 100 percent safe unless they are in escape-proof enclosures such as crates or cat-designed fence systems where other cats can't come into physical contact with them, and/or when they are on leashes attached to harnesses held by a family member.
- Train your cat to wear a collar and identification at all times. Collars are NOT dangerous.
- Before entering your home with groceries or multiple packages, put Mr. or Ms Cat in another room and close the door.
- Move furniture away from doors that lead to the outside so that you have a clear view around the area whenever the door is opened. Cats frequently are found under couches and chairs and they can easily get out without being seen.
- When transporting a cat, always use metal or plastic carriers.
- Screen doors and windows are not designed to prevent cats from escaping. Only expose the tops of screened doors or windows and by no more than 2 inches.
- Before moving to another residence, confine the cat with his/her belongings to a locked room in the existing home and then to a room in the new home for at least two to five days in order for him/her to adjust to the new environment.
- Never allow cats on balconies; their depth perception and awareness and fear of heights is not developed like ours. Cats are instinctively attracted to flying insects and birds which could result in their loss or injury from a fall.
- Whenever there will be a disruption or distraction in your home life, positive or negative, rest assured your cat will experience it too. Confine or board your cat during the holidays, when selling and showing your home, going away on vacation, remodeling or repairing your home, having cleaning or pest control services inside your home, etc.
Finally, no cat or dog has the human brain capacity of a two year old child. They are wholly instinctive, have a highly developed sense of smell, hearing and sight, which can diminish with age, but possess no real "human intelligence". We love them, we should, but we should understand their limitations and be prepared to care for them all the rest of their lives when we welcome them into our homes. It's our responsibility as their guardians and our privilege as members of the human race to see to it that they come to no harm!