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  • What does a "pet detective" do to find lost cats for owners?
    Each pet detective is different, but basically the best pet detectives will find your lost cat using their professional skills, tracking, training and gear. As a pet detective who specialises in lost cats only, I first assess all the clues of your lost cats personality and geography, then create strategies based on YOUR cat using my experience, probability theory, data and the science of lost cat behavior to get your lost cat found and back home. Like me, the best most famous Pet detectives are trained using the same tracking & search techniques used in the world of FBI and Missing persons Search & Rescue. My specialty is a dedicated 100% Cat Detective.
  • Will a pet detective guarantee they will find my lost pet?
    If a pet detective guarantees they will find your missing pet, they are probably out for top dollar fees or big rewards as a bounty hunter --NOT an ethical pet detective doing their job of search & rescue. Like with other animal rescue services based on time or energy like groomers, pet sitters and vets, pro pet finders need to be paid for their time and use of certified search protocol to help you find your pet.
  • How do I find the best pet detective near me?
    Look for a pet detective who specializes in either lost dogs or lost cats. You can Google "pet detective near me" or find a lost pet finder who works nationally. Once you find a certified lost pet finder, ask to see their "lost pets found" testimonials on missing pets they found directly, not as a result of posters. Ask how many "walk-up finds" they average a year. Ask for references from at least two of their clients from the six months. My specialty work is the Cat Detective but I can help advise on Lost dog cases too as well as missing snakes, goats, tortoises, and even horses. Here are a few pet detectives who pay to be listed but there are others who are trained and certified with Missing Animal Response who are not listed on this national pet detectives network.
  • How much do pet detectives and lost pet finders charge in 2023?
    The average rate for a pet detective in the US is between $300 and $1200 for a typical 3-hour search. Rates can vary depending on e pet detective's experience and success rate. Pet detectives with lost pet search dogs, trailing dogs or K9 tracking dogs (AKA "sniffer dogs") sometimes charge more although their success rates with cats are no higher than experienced pet detectives armed with lost cat recovery training and equipment.
  • Can you come help me find my lost pet?
    YES, depending on where you live. If you'd like professional help in finding your lost cat in person, contact the Lost Cat Finder to check in-person availability in these 35 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana · Iowa · Kansas · Kentucky Louisiana · Michigan · Mississippi · Montana · Nevada New Jersey · New Mexico · New York · North Carolina North Dakota · Ohio · Oregon · Pennsylvania · Rhode Island South Carolina · South Dakota · Tennessee Texas · Utah * Virginia · Washington · West Virginia and Wyoming​​. Lost Cat Finder services are also available in Canada, England, Spain, France, Italy and Africa.
  • How far do lost cats go?
    A missing cat can be as close as your closet or as far as another state. A pet detective is trained to assess your cat's personality profile, situation and home terrain to determine the distance and most likley area the cat is lost or hiding/trapped.
  • My cat has been lost two weeks. is it too late to find my cat?
    No. Two weeks is well within the average time a lost cat will hide before they emerge and start being seen, so don't give up on your missing cat so soon! Make sure you have the word out so when your cat does start appearing in public, people know it is YOUR lost cat and how to reach you.
  • Did a coyote kill my missing cat?
    Probably not. Even in cases of coyote sightings within the same yard of a missing cat, pet detectives have still recovered the lost cat unharmed as long as the owner has not left food or a litter box outside which can draw coyotes closer than they might usually come and into the area your lost or escaped indoor cat is hiding. Here are a few stories of cats who escaped coyotes.
  • What happened to the "Missing Pet Partnership"?"
    Missing Pet Partnership was a non-profit organization founded by Kat Albrecht to help educate shelters and pet owners to find their missing pets. She nobly made MPP a non profit so it would continue long after she was gone. Albrecht was a police officer and K9 Bloodhound handler who brought missing persons protocol and police procedurals to lost pet recovery work. Missing Pet Partnership under pioneered many techniques on "How to find a lost pet" and Kat was the first person to train dogs to find lost pets. The original name of Missing Pet Partnership was the Lost-A-Pet Foundation, which is now Mission Reunite with a new focus on offering lost pet tips and consulting to animal rescue groups and shelters. Kat Albrecht left Missing Pet Partnership in 2017 to start MARN, the Missing Animal Response Network to train pet detectives and offer virtual lost pet search dog training.The MARN page includes a Pet Detective Directory for certified pet detectives who pay for listings.
  • What is the best way to find a missing cat?
    It depends upon whether the cat is indoor only or outside access, the cat's personality and surrounding terrain, even the weather when lost. The only scientific study on the best way to find a lost cat was done in Queensland Australia with collaboration from Missing Pet Partnership and Danielle Robinson of Lost Pet Research & Recovery. Here is a link to the article focused on the various Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found -
  • How do you find a lost indoor cat compared to missing outside cat?
    Search methods for lost indoor cats are a little different than trying to find a missing outdoor cat, but the key is still an analysis of their personality first in order to predicts their lost cat behavior. There are two pet detectives trained in missing cat profiling, one of which is the Lost Cat Finder, also linked with the Austin pet Detective page and another Missing Pet Partnership grad Miss Mundy. Once the cat's predicted behavior is determined the strategy to find them is more refined and successful. In both lost cat cases, it helps to have a professional pet finder guide you so you don't waste precious hours and can focus on exactly the right techniques for your inside or outside cat. The average percentage for both inside and outside cat recoveries combined by the Lost Cat Finder is combined is an 86% success rate.
  • Can a lost cat find their way home?
    Yes, cats have a special homing instinct that helps them find their way home. Recent evidence suggests that all cays can use the earth’s geomagnetic fields—potentially combined with scent cues—to locate their homes. Some lost cats make the attempt to get home, but sometimes more skittish cats or indoor cats who have never been outside are too afraid to try it, so it can depend on the situation and geography. All cats have a homing instinct, whether they are indoor, outdoor, or stray cats. However, much like people having a sense of direction, some cats may have stronger instincts than others and be able to follow the trail home more effectively. From Lost Pet Research we have some data on a lost cats ability to find their way home. Cat Homing Instinct: Is it Real? Can Cats Find Their Way Home? Will your lost cat find their way back home? Homing Instinct Before we dive deep into the world of cats and their ability to find their way back home, let’s first understand animal homing behavior as a whole. According to Brittanica, homing refers to the ability of an animal to return to a specific location using navigational clues. This includes star patterns, the angle of the sun, and the Earth’s magnetic field. Migratory birds (think seabirds and swallows) are well-known for this. Apart from birds, land- and water-dwelling animals like sea turtles, salmon, and reptiles also possess this incredible ability. Can Cats Find Their Way Home? If you’ve watched Homeward Bound, then you’d remember the cute furry trio (which includes a wise yet old Golden retriever, a fun-loving bulldog, and a sassy Himalayan cat) that were left behind but manages to return home. Surprisingly, this does not only happen in the movies. It also happens in real life. So, if you’re wondering if your cat can find its way home despite the distance (think a hundred miles away), the answer is Yes. If you’re still doubtful, here are a few studies that could back this up: Homing Powers of the Cat is a study published in 1922 by Professor Frances Herrick. In this study, Herrick observed the mama cats’ ability to find their way home to her kitties even when they’re 1-4 miles away from them. PetMD also mentioned a study conducted by German researchers in 1954. Cats were placed in a large maze with many entryways. The research proved that cats often use the opening nearest their home’s location to escape the maze. True, there isn’t much research available to prove this phenomenon. But the reported accounts of missing pets suddenly appearing in front of the pet owners’ porch weeks, months, or even years after getting lost are enough proof for us to believe that such a thing as homing instinct exists in cats. Common Reasons Behind Your Cat’s Disappearance Now that you know about your cat’s extraordinary ability, one of the things that you might find bothersome is your cat’s habit of wandering off and disappearing for days and even more. This is especially true for cats who get the pleasure to roam around freely outdoor. If this mystifies you, the list below will give you a few good reasons behind your indoor-outdoor cat’s disappearing act: Their Love For Hunting While your pets may look innocent and sweet on the outside, they’re highly skilled predators that consider hunting as their favorite pastime. Their day is not complete without preying on little critters like rodents, reptiles, and even birds. So, if your cat is out of sight, your feline friend might just be chasing their prey. It’s Mating Season Whether you have a tomcat or a queen, both tend to stray off when they’re in search of their mate. They’re Scared Or Stressed Like humans, cats also tend to run away whenever they feel scared, stressed, or anxious. If a lot is going on in your home (like house renovations), your pet cat may feel stressed because of all the racket and the strangers going in and out of your home. Your cat may have also been chased away by a dog or another animal. All of these reasons would often force your pet cat to look for a hiding spot. They’ve Found A Great Food Provider There are good-hearted people out there who can’t help but feed a wandering cat. When this happens, cats tend to go back to that source of food every now and then. Cats’ Homing Instinct: How Does It Work? Yes, we’ve heard more than a handful of amazing stories about missing cats traveling long distances to get back home. Some posts also report their pet cat is lost only to discover that their missing cat somehow found its way back to their old house (even if the new home is hundreds of miles away from their old one). All of these seem impossible and hard to believe, but it happens. Impressive as it is, researchers are still dumbfounded. At the moment, all we have are half-baked theories. Nonetheless, they’re still a good starting point. So, if you want to have at least an idea of how your lost cat is able to find its way home, read on. Using Smell Markers We all know that dogs have this remarkable sense of smell that helps them find their way back home when lost. It’s the same with cats. With over 19 million scent receptors, we can say that cats also possess a well-developed sense of smell. In fact, cats are a step ahead of dogs when it comes to scent identification. Cats also have this organ called Jacobson’s that allows them to smell undetectable odors. And since cats have the habit of marking their territory, a lost cat may be able to find its way home by getting a whiff of these scent markers. Sensitivity To Earth’s Geo-Magnetic Fields Research also suggests that mammals’ inner ears contain iron. And just like a compass, this helps mammals (cats included) distinguish north-sound direction using the Earth’s magnetic fields. Cat’s Longing To return To Its Territory Some say that the animals’ overall temperament can help them find their way home. For dogs, this often relates to the special bond they have with their owners. Cats, on the other hand, given their territorial nature, could easily find the right direction towards home because of their strong ties to their territory. Why Cats Don’t Always Find Their Way Home Although there are numerous posts about lost cats successfully finding their way home, there are also a good number of lost cats that never do. Unfortunately, this type of post doesn’t often get any attention. Here are some reasons why cats fail to make their way home despite their keen sense of direction and unexplainable homing instinct: Absence of homing abilities. You heard it right. Some cats fail to find their way home simply because they don’t have the ability to do so. This is often observed in young cats, indoor cats who have never set their foot outside, and lab-raised cats. Emotions overpower their sense of direction. Negative emotions (like fear, stress, and anxiety) may also impair your cats’ ability to sense right from wrong when it comes to direction. Unfamiliar environment. Yes, stories about cats getting home after traveling for miles through unknown territory are shocking, yet it happens. However, this isn’t for all cats. Average outdoor cats roam within 500 feet of their homes. And they can head home using a familiar route. Obstacles along the way. It’s normal for your cat to encounter obstacles that can hinder them from finding their way home. This includes rodents that can distract them and make them lose their way, bad weather, cars, dogs, and even people. What To Do With A Cat That Loves To Wander Off Cats just love to wander. It’s in their nature, after all. But since cats are prone to disappearing and, at times, get lost while doing it, some opt to keep them indoors. Now, this is actually good if you want your feline friend to live a longer life (think 20 years). But then again, there are also a couple of benefits if you let them out. So, if you choose to let your cat wander in and around your home, you might as well try these tips to reduce the chances of them getting lost. When they do get lost, it will also increase your chances of finding them again. Get your cat neutered or spayed. Since mating is one of the reasons why cats often get out, spaying or neutering will help. Here are 5 more reasons why spaying or neutering is good for cats. If you just moved, keep your cat indoors for at least a month. Since your cat will most likely search for its old territory after moving, it’s a good idea to keep your cat indoors for at least a month. This way, your cat can also get accustomed to its new surroundings. Dress your cat with a collar with ID tags. Getting your pet a collar with a tag that shows your address and phone number will help a lot if your cat can’t seem to find their way home. Have your cat microchipped. The likelihood of you finding your cat is increased if you get them microchipped. You can call your cat out loud or even write a post with their picture to see if anyone has seen them. But if these fail, the microchip on them is going to be your final hope. If you want to know more, call your vet. Food for Thought True, your cat has this impeccable sense of direction. Despite the lack of sign or theories to prove it, we know that it exists. But, no matter how incredible this is, we can’t always rely on it. The truth remains that your cat’s chances of getting lost and not getting back home is significantly higher. So, if you want to be with your cat for a long time, always prioritize their safety and health above all else. How far away can a cat find its way home? According to Dr. John Bradshaw of the School of Veterinary Science at Bristol University and author of Cat Sense, most cats roam between 40 and 200 metres (131 and 656 feet) from the home. Can an indoor only cat find its way home? If you have an indoor only cat then it is unfamiliar with the outside world, and probably is scared and hiding nearby. Many indoor only cats don't go beyond the yard or their immediate house and can be found hiding under bushes, hedges, plants, against the house, or in some nearby hiding place. How do you attract an indoor cat back home? Use strong smelling canned cat food that your cat can smell from a distance so your cat knows where to go for food. Also, put your cat's litter box and any bedding that has your cat's scent on it outside to attract your cat back to your home. Cat's have an amazing sense of smell! Where do cats go when they run away? Their first instinct is to find a place to hide. If they have ever escaped before they will run the same direction and go the same place they did before (even if it was years ago). Cats will usually stay within a 3-4 house radius from where they went out as long as they can find a place to hide within that area. Cats and Their Homing Instinct Pamela Merritt November 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm How great are the distances a cat can cover to get home? How do cats navigate? What conclusions can we draw between cat abilities and how we make decisions about their care? It is theorized that birds, dogs, and cats draw their homing abilities from a combination of internal clocks, sun angles, and the earth’s magnetic field. According to this article, researchers discovered tiny magnetic particles of metal on the ‘wrists’ of cats’ fore and hind paws, though I was unable to find a further reference. However they do it, it is undeniable that they can do it. One of the most incredible stories is when Howie the Persian cat crossed the Australian outback, over 1,000 miles, to return to his home. With such amazing abilities, how do cats get lost? Cats such as Howie are the exception. Just because there are documented cases of sky divers surviving when their parachute fails to open doesn’t mean we should try this ourselves. Just because some cats are able to surmount incredible obstacles doesn’t mean they all can, or that enough luck was with them to help them along the way. Many cats don’t get lost so much as they get trapped somewhere else. Cats have explored trucks, boxes, and containers, and the lucky ones get found and returned. Cats have gotten their collars trapped on something, which is why I’m not a fan of collars. If they are breakaway, they will break away, and if they are not, they can guarantee our cat won’t get back home. ID chips are something that the cat will not lose. The cat’s “homing center” can be disrupted in a move, which is why we need to keep them indoors for at least three weeks, to allow it to reset for their new place. The Amazing Homing Ability Of Lost Cats Written by Cecily Kellogg on December 1, 2016 in Behavior In 2011, a 4-year-old tortoiseshell cat named Holly became separated from her owners, who were traveling by RV in Daytona, Florida. Despite being nearly 200 miles from her home in West Palm Beach, she was able over a period of two months to make her way back. That same year, George, a one-eyed orange tabby, escaped his veterinarian’s office and made the 5-mile, 10-day trek home through traffic and heavy snow. You hear these stories all the time. In fact, one of my favorite childhood books—The Incredible Journey, featuring a siamese cat and her two dog friends making their way home—became popular movies the featured cat’s unique homing instinct. When I was 18, my cat Spike—the most zen cat in the world, whom I adopted from a shelter the day he was scheduled for the big sleep—fell out my third floor window and disappeared. Worse? We had to leave immediately for my grandfather’s funeral. Even worse than that? We’d only lived in Philadelphia for a few weeks when he fell. Well aware of the cat’s remarkable homing instinct (I was a huge fan of the book The Incredible Journey as a kid) I was so worried that he’d headed back to Michigan. But two days later when we got home, there he was: thirsty and hungry but alive and well. I guess his homing instinct had reset. So how exactly do cats find their way home? It turns out that the literature is rather scant in this area—one of the most detailed experiments coming from Francis Herrick, who published his findings in Homing Powers of the Cat in 1922. In 1954, German investigators Precht and Lindenlaub removed cats from their homes placed them in a maze with several exits. Over 60% of the time the lost cats chose the exit facing the direction of their home. In 1977, in The Cat: History, Biology, and Behavior, Beadle theorized that cats, like homing birds, are extremely sensitive to the geo-magnetic fields that surround the earth. This sensitivity, he postulated, gave them an unusual ability to geolocate. Animal Wellness Magazine cites some more current perspectives. For example, animal behaviorist Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, CAAB, points out that cats practice their geolocating ability when they are out in the environment—a feral or outdoor cat who is accustomed to finding its way around will likely be more practiced and less “clueless” than a cat that has spent its entire life indoors. Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT, proposes that a cat’s homing ability is the result of combined factors—such as smell and sensitivity to magnetic fields. He goes on to say that there may even be a sort of directional sensitivity at the sub-molecular or even subatomic level—as when separated electrons orient the direction of their spin even when no longer in close proximity to one another. Not every lost cat returns home Investigators seem to feel this is due to accidents, obstacles, and other confounding factors, rather than to a failure in the cat’s geolocating ability. The health and emotional state of the cat also seem to play a role. An injured, panicked, or severely malnourished animal may not be physically capable of making the journey or may become confused along the way. Yet it can’t be denied that lost cats have an amazing ability to know where home is. What if you and your cat become separated? Here are a few simple tips we hope will help. • Make it easy to identify your cat, either with a collar tag or microchip. That way you’ll be contacted should a Good Samaritan locate your pet. • Leave out some food and water at home. If your cat has no tag or chip, it may still be trying to reach home. It will likely be hungry and dehydrated when it gets there. Also the smell of food will help direct it once it gets within sniffing distance. • Call local vets, both where you are and in your home area. Alter vets to your lost animal. In the unfortunate case of an accident, someone may bring your cat to a local vet for treatment. • Post on online “Missing Pets” message forums and bulletin boards. The more eyes there are looking for your cat, the more likely you are to have a happy reunion. Feline homing instincts Ramona D. Marek, MS Ed March 23, 2015 Many lost or relocated cats are able to find their way home again, even over vast distances using their homing instincts. Feline behavior is often mysterious, misunderstood, and even miraculous. One of the most intriguing characteristics of cats is their ability to find their way home across vast distances. These homing instincts are well studied in many other animal species, including birds, bees and fish. But how lost or relocated cats find their way home remains a mystery. Scientists have learned that migratory birds like geese use visual cues such as rocks and landscapes, as well as the orientation of the sun, moon and stars, to find their way. Salmon, meanwhile, use scent cues to return to their home waters thousands of miles away. Still other animals use magnetic cells in their brains to orient them to true north. Exactly how cats do it, however, remains a mystery. To date, all we have on this topic are anecdotal stories and two old and obscure studies: 1. The oldest of the studies, conducted by Francis H. Herrick in 1922, tested the homing instincts of a female cat who was motivated to return home because she had kittens there. She successfully made her way home seven times from seven different locations ranging from one to three miles away. 2. A 1954 study conducted by H. Precht and E. Lindenlaub in Germany involved taking cats to the center of a circular maze with six equally-spaced exits – 60% of the time, the cats chose the exit nearest the direction their homes were in, when the homes were in a range of 3.1 miles. Lost cats homing stories We’ve all heard accounts of cats with unerring homing instincts. For example, the story of Sushi made headlines in the animal world in September of 2013 when she turned up two years after getting lost during her family’s evacuation from out-of-control wildfires near Austin, Texas. No one knows where she had been all that time, but wherever it was, she brought a feral black kitten home with her! The PBS Nature program “Extraordinary Cats” has highlighted some incredible journeys made not just once, but multiple times, by various displaced felines: • After moving with his family to a new house eight miles away, Pilsbury went right back home again – 40 times – and had to be retrieved by his family on an almost weekly basis. • Tigger made the three-mile round trip to his old home an amazing 75 times, no mean feat considering he only has three legs. • Ninja moved with his family from Farmington, Utah to Mill Creek, Washington – a huge distance. He left the new house and showed up in Utah one year later, after travelling a distance of 850 miles. What are the theories? There’s no denying that cats have an unerring homing instinct, but how can it be explained? Until more studies are done, there’s no definitive answer, but there are some interesting if disparate theories. “Probably all cats possess some degree of ‘homing instinct’, but some may be genetically predisposed to having a better sense of direction than others,” says Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, CAAB, a certified animal behaviorist. “Whether or not they use this skill is likely influenced by experience; a feral (or free-roaming) cat will exercise the skill on a regular basis whereas an indoor cat that gets lost outside might be clueless and frightened. Motivation also probably influences a cat’s will to return ‘home’ – the presence of young, reliable shelter, food, and so on.” Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT, offers an interesting mix of theories. “Cats likely rely on their somatosensory system,” he says. “They may possess some unidentified geomagnetic polarity cellular structure, or perhaps it’s a mix of olfactory cues and magnetic fields. “Another hypothesis that may be at play involves the disequilibrium that forms when closely-bonded individuals get separated,” Hartstein continues. “This phenomenon is illustrated by Bell’s Theorem, which proposes that ‘all electrons function in pairs, with each electron spinning in the opposite direction of the other electron’. When the spin of one electron is changed, the other senses it and alters its direction according to the first one. In space experiments, when the spin of one electron was changed, its bonded electron back on earth correspondingly and immediately altered its own spin. Perhaps when the physical bond between a cat and his family is disrupted by separation, this disequilibrium helps to drive them back to homeostasis.” This may seem like a stretch, especially as it doesn’t explain why humans don’t possess a homing instinct, but it’s an intriguing theory. Hopefully, more studies will eventually be done on how and why cats are able to traverse huge distances and know exactly where they’re going.
  • Can Cats Find Their Way Back if it's a New Home?
    If your cat is lost during a move or just after you moved, you may assume they did not settle enough to consider the new place home yet. This is not necessarily true at all. Many cats need only one meal or hour to recognize where their new headquarters is, and al the things that smell like home that make up what they know. I've found many lost cats who we were able to lure back to the spot they escaped from, even when the event happened only an hour into the move to the new home. In some cases, the cat may try to travel back to your old home, particularly if they were allowed outside often and strongly tied to the territory. It has been estimated that 30% of cats will try and return to their former homes even if they do not make it all the way, they may migrate in that direction. Even if your old home over 5 miles away, you should tell your old neighbors and the new residents to be on the lookout and give them a flyer to hold onto in case your cat shows up months or even years later.
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