How long does it take for a missing house cat to come back?

by Jayde
(Maple Grove, Minnesota, United States)

We live in the suburban area of Minnesota, near a very big woods. The woods is our backyard. Our cat has been missing for three days. She is bright white and 16 years old.

We have a litter box, food, and water outside. She hasn’t come back yet. We have missing posters up on the trails in the woods and in the neighborhood.

Has anyone else had a missing cat? What is her chance of survival in the woods? (We have foxes in our woods.) How long would it take her to come back?

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missing cat
by: Beverly

We adopted an orphaned cat who adapted readily to us and though I let him out, he always ran to our door to come in. However, one day he went missing. My heart was broken and after 18 days I very reluctantly assumed him gone for good. One day (18 days later) as I drove into the driveway from work, I heard loud yeowing. It was him! He was very dehydrated and had lost weight. My own opinion is that he had wandered into someone's garage that was open, and the owners may have gone on vacation locking him inside.

How long does it take a missing cat
by: Louise

Hi There
We run a national rescue group and have helped many people over the years get back a missing cat. In my experience helping others, it can take anywhere from one to 2 weeks to sometimes a month. Keep leaving food out, as if there is no food the cat will wander further from home seeking food. Leave out old cat litter, water, even cat bedding etc with familiar smells. Go out at night with a flashlight between 2 am to 4 am..this is the time a scared cat may go out looking for food.
Of course try traps etc, put up signs., report missing cat to animal control in case she gets picked up. Always microchip your cat--almost every shelter, vet clinic and rescue group checks for microchips.

Your missing Kitty
by: Matt

If your cat does not normally go outside they may be disoriented and scared. She may be surprisingly close. You may want to consider putting out a live trap to see if you may be able to catch her.

Missing house cat
by: Kacy

I take it that the cat doesn't ordinarily go outside. Her chances of survival are better than yours. Her instincts will take over. As regards the foxes, she can climb trees, they can't. This is a new adventure for her, so give her time.

I would like to point out that she's 16 years old. Cats normally won't let you know when they're sick. They also will often go off somewhere alone when they know it's time to die. You need to be aware that's possibly what she's done.

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