It can happen in an instant — one minute your cat is in the living room, the next you can’t find him anywhere. A lost pet is an emergency and while most are swiftly reunited with their owners, it is imperative that you find your missing pet right away. Understanding how pets go missing is the first step — once you are aware of potential problems, you can create ways to safeguard against them.

Cute pet cat.

5 Common Ways Pets Get Lost

Open Doors:  It’s not just doors — open windows and gates pose a hazard as well. Even a cat or small dog can push a screen that is not properly secured out of the way, and pets can easily slip out the front door right behind you as you leave your home. Prevent this by checking latches regularly and making sure any open windows have secure screens so your pet can’t venture outside.

While Traveling:  A car ride is an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful. Be extra careful when opening and closing car doors and make sure your pet is in a secure carrier or on a secure leash. Always use a tag with ID when you travel, just in case.

Picked Up:  An outdoor cat can be mistaken for a stray, and delivered to a shelter. While the person who made the journey did so to be kind, the result can be a painful separation from your pet. Less likely, but still possible is theft of a rare breed of cat or dog that is outside unattended. Some animals also end up being unintentionally transported — they climb aboard a vehicle or delivery truck and get moved to a new location, then can’t find their way home.

20006904 - homeless cat in a cage in an animal shelter

Startled or Scared: A pet that is startled or scared could bolt elsewhere – or run right out of the house. If you are having a party, getting lots of Trick or Treaters or there is a thunderstorm, secure your pets in an inside room so they do not bolt away out of fear.

Illness or Injury: A sick or injured pet may not come to you for help — instead they could hide inside or outside of your home. This reaction is based on fear and instinct and can occur no matter how much you dote on your pet. If he feels ill, he could be driven to hide himself away. Looking under bushes, in the garage and other potential hiding places could reunite you quickly. If you do discover your pet hiding in this manner, bring him in for a checkup to see what triggered the behavior; something as simple as a UTI could be to blame.

Understanding how pets get lost allows you to take steps to prevent this scenario and to have a plan in place if you do get separated. A microchip ID and collar with your details can help you get reunited quickly if your cat or dog does go missing.

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