rspca

Helping Lost Pets

Pet Care Pets Posted Nov 11, 2021
Here are some helpful tips on what to do if you lose or find a pet.

Sometimes our pets get lost and it may be hard to locate them, sometimes storms and fireworks also trigger escape behaviour. Pets that are lost may show different behaviours to when they are in the comfort of their homes.

How does my lost dog behave?

Depending on your dog’s temperament, they can behave in all different ways when lost. 

  • Friendly dogs are more likely to go directly up to the first person who calls out to them. Depending on the weather and location, social dogs will usually be close by to their home or escape point, but they may still choose to explore further afield. 
  • Nervous and shy dogs are more wary of strangers and will avoid human contact. Some may have fear issues that will require specialised rescue with sedation and trapping. You may find that these types of dogs will hide and be missing for quite some time. Timid dogs may be more inclined to travel further and are at higher risk of being hit by cars.

There are certain techniques that can be used to help rescue dogs with this type of behaviour. Click here to find out what to do if your pet goes missing

How do I help a scared dog?

With scared dogs you have to build trust. Resist the urge to rush up to scared dogs and look at them directly. Your best bet is to kneel down and drop food on the ground while looking away from the dog.

Tip: If you can’t catch a lost pet, report the sighting location to our Lost and Found Team on 1300 363 736.

How does my lost cat behave?

Outdoor-access cats can become lost when chased from their territory, usually by another cat or a loose dog. Your indoor cat that is not used to the great outdoors may accidentally escape and become displaced.

  • Spooked cats can end up just a few houses away, hiding. If you need help to encourage them out of their hiding spot and you know where they’ve come from, put out something that smells like the owner eg item of clothing and/or their litter tray. If you can’t coax a cat out with yummy food to catch them, you can ask your local council for a cat trap. Essentially the yummy food inside the trap will eventually coax the cat to come out.
  • Injured or sick cats that are lost may result in them hiding in silence. These types of cats will seek shelter in areas of concealment such as under a deck, or even under a house. These cats may not make any type of noise including a meow. This is because the cat is stressed, scared and does not want to give up their hiding place to a predator. 
  • Confident or social cats may come home within a few hours of being lost.
  • Cats up trees - if your cat escapes and ends up stuck up a tree, if they don’t come down after 24 hours, contact your local fire brigade, SES, or tree lopping service if the tree is climbable. You can leave yummy/smelly cat food at the base of the tree to encourage them to make their own way down and leave a covered box or cat carrier at the base of the tree so the cat has somewhere to retreat to if they venture down. 
Is your pet microchipped?

Click here to find out why microchipping is important, how they can help your pet be reunited with you faster, and how to check if your pet’s chip is registered!

Sophie Oxford
Share this article
Find the perfect pet