When a cat goes missing, everyone on this site will know that you have to walk every square metre of their known territory, radiating out to encompass miles and miles of fields and woods, rivers, roads, residential streets, houses. Posters are vital, as are fliers and door knocking. Anyone. Everyone. Postmen, schools, window cleaners dog walkers and courier drivers/delivery firms of course, if you know they were present at that time. From day 1, take a notebook and record all the houses that did not answer as it will be impossible to recall them and oh, how it plays on your mind later!
Before you leave home, remember that scent is THE most important sense for a cat so put out used bedding, used litter and worn items of your own. This is especially vital for indoor cats and those who are new to an area as they will not be able to navigate by recognition. It is worth doing for any missing cat though, just in case they had been chased or taken out of their territory for whatever reason and become disorientated. I have also learned (too late for my Clooney ? )to take a cat's used blanket with me when out searching because this is the only thing they trust when they are scared and panicked. Something in the psyche of a hungry, terrified cat switches off the sight and voice recognition button and they often lie low, even when you are calling. I have seen it for myself whilst looking for other people's cats it is quite bizarre. A loved and trusted owner who has the deepest and most abiding connection to their feline baby can be met with a frozen and silent terror. In this situation, the reassuring scent of his own blanket is like magic. The ears relax, the tail pings up, which in catty language says loudly, 'Oh, it's you I was worried there, why didn't you say?' It works miracles and how we need miracles. Have some treats to hand too - it's your duty!
Consider hiring or recruiting some kind of tracker dog because, heart breaking though it is, you will need to know if your beloved friend is lying injured or worse. It is something we all find crippling to even think about but sadly, many cats, once injured will seek refuge deep within a hedge or undergrowth.
Get someone else to call the Highways and Councils as this one is the hardest.
Phone the microchip database company to report your pet as missing and to check that your details are up-to-date. In addition, register him/her directly on the Halo Scannerangel database of missing pets so that your pet will flash up as 'Reported lost by should he/she be lucky enough to be scanned by a Halo scanner.
Whilst you are there, register them on CatLost, and the National Pets Register. There are many other sites, including Pets Located which the RSPCA use, but those mentioned are the main ones.
Then there are the Vets, Rescues, Charities, and Organisations. In a well- reasoned strategy, I left the Rescues/Charities to last, given that he was both microchipped and neutered. Of course, you would prioritise differently if your pet hadn't been microchipped.
There is so much to cover that I deduced, in my naivety and to my eternal regret, that Rescues and Charities could wait because they would scan for a microchip if Clooney came through their door. The large, well-known Rescues and Charities almost certainly do, but I failed to understand the spectacular flaw in the microchipping system: the requirement to scan is not law. In fact, it is entirely possible that many of the smaller Rescues do not even hold scanners and cats can be rehomed in just seven days. It is even possible for such Rescues and organisations to change the microchip details. Just be warned and be aware as this was something that the average person is unlikely to know and it is often too late by the time you uncover it for yourself. With that in mind, phone the microchip company every few months to check that there has been no activity on your keepership registration.
On the same subject of scanning, please be aware that it is a rare vet (by their own admission) that will scan a new registration to their practice and then check it on the relevant database to determine whether the presenting 'owner' matches the registered keeper. This makes it all too easy for our acquired, adopted or passed-on- for-profit furry friends to totally disappear when they are absorbed into a new family. Our dearly missed pets could be registered at a vet, with a new identity and listed against an unfamiliar name and address - and this, alongside a microchip number, silent but capable of revealing their true identity and the details of those of us desperate for news. It sounds like too big an affront to our faith in the microchipping system we paid into to be possible, but I wonder how many of our lost and stolen are listed on the client databases of veterinary surgeries, waiting to be identified for who they really are
If you know or suspect that your cat has been stolen, then the faster you can flood social media with his/her face, the better the chance of getting them identified should they be passed on via websites, FB pages or similar. Check out Gumtree, Preloved, Pets4homes, and join as many local FB selling sites as you can. I was not on FaceBook before Clooney was taken, nor was I aware of all the missing cat pages that together, cover every location across the UK. How I have lamented my ignorance now I am sickeningly cognisant of its undoubted power of making stolen pets. 'too hot to handle'. Over the years friends have supported me and it gives great comfort to know that there are hundreds of caring eyes across the UK, keeping a vigilance for your lost or stolen furbaby.
Contact the local newspapers, Parish magazines, local radio and local village books, listing local traders and events - these can be invaluable for reaching the older members of the community who won't necessarily open doors when you knock, see posters or be acquainted with social media. Look up Next Door and join as it is the most local group of immediate neighbours.
Connect with your local CatLost/DogLost co-ordinator - they can become your very best friend when your best friend is missing. Compassion, understanding and experience are more valuable at this time than I can convey.