For pet owners, losing an animal can be very disheartening. Even if the lost pet isn’t theirs, they’ll be worried about it. It is a sad reality that animals can easily escape the premises of their own home and a majority of them don’t return. If ever this happens to you, the first thing to keep in mind is that you should understand how they would behave when placed in an unfamiliar setting. While no two animals have the same personality, the chances of them exhibiting a certain behavior common among their kind is high.
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According to the Missing Pet Partnership (MPP), understanding the behavioral patterns of your cat and dog will increase the chances of finding them. This knowledge will be useful for those working in shelters and animal welfare groups as well.
Understanding the nature of lost pets
MPP has been studying the behavior of lost pets since 1997. Individuals had volunteered for physical searches, and in the process, they have developed a deeper understanding of how these animals act when they’re scared or stressed.
Today, we will be looking into the common house pets particularly cats and dogs along with the various situations that all owners should take note of.
Lost outdoor cats
Felines that are given access to the outdoors typically “run away” when something disrupts their routine at home. An example of which are constructions done at home, strangers visiting, and even new animals introduced to the household.
Cats are generally territorial creatures, but they can be displaced from their own territory when another animal chases them away. What makes this situation alarming is that cats can get disoriented as they do not pick up scents as well as dogs do, causing them to completely lose sight of home.
If your cat is raised indoors, it is best to secure all exits to prevent them from running off in the first place. Cats with outdoor access are harder to control, but installing surveillance cameras may help. If you are trying to locate a displaced cat, check surveillance cameras around the neighborhood or set up baited humane traps.
Injured or sick cats
Cats who are scared, injured, or sick will hide in silence, making the chances of them responding to your voice very slim. They can be hiding close to home but continue to sit silently in fear of other predators.
This is where monitoring devices become important when it comes to locating lost pets. Monitoring devices give pet owners the convenience of finding animals that don’t respond when called.
Timid cats’ threshold factor
One of the most interesting behavioral patterns observed by the MPP is that most cats will not leave their hiding place even when being offered food or hearing their owner’s voice. Apparently this applies to more than just being sick or injured. A cat’s personal temperament is a deciding factor that should be taken into consideration as well.
Cats who are timid have a threshold point of ten to twelve days. One extreme case involved a cat hiding in the attic of a veterinarian for twenty-two days because he was intimidated by the sounds of barking dogs. On the other hand, confident felines hide for a lesser time, ranging from an hour to twelve days. For all these cases, humane traps are still the best option.
Unfortunately, there is a big downside if your dog happens to be too accustomed to strangers. If ever they wander off from home, they can end up being adopted on the streets since they won’t hesitate to approach the first person who calls them. These people generally mean no harm as they most likely will be willing to give the dog a warm home instead of turning them to a shelter. But of course that will completely reduce the chances of you ever finding them again. So in case a sociable dog escapes the house, make sure to ask around your neighborhood if anyone had picked him up.
There are sociable dogs, and then there are the aloof ones. Aloof dogs avoid strangers and even other animals. There are a lot of breeds that have higher chances of exhibiting this type of behavior. Some examples include the Akita, Afghan hound, and chow chow.
Aloof dogs are mostly found in the streets rather than in someone’s backyard and may be more difficult to find than sociable ones. So try to check on garbage sites, street corners, or even the local shelter to see if they happen to have seen your pet.