WHY THE MISSING CAT STUDY WAS DEVELOPED
“By MARN Director Kat Albrecht”
My background in search-and-rescue work began in 1989 when I set out to train my dog to find lost people and ultimately switched over (in 1997) to search for lost pets. During my early research into lost pet behaviors, it was natural for me to apply the same search methods and use the same equipment I had used to find lost people and use them to solve missing cat cases. My cat detection dog Rachel and I were consistently finding “missing” cats very close to home, concealed and hiding somewhere (under a deck, under a porch, under a house, concealed in bushes, etc.) and the majority were either on the owner’s property or in the yard next door.
In those early years, I discovered that no one had ever studied lost pet behaviors, and there was no data available on the typical distances that lost dogs or lost cats travel. It wasn’t until 2013 when my first organization, Missing Pet Partnership, finally compiled statistics on lost cat behaviors and discovered that 84% of 128 lost outdoor-access cats were found within a five-house radius of their home and that 92% of 158 cases of displaced, indoor-only cats who’d escaped outside were also found within a five-house radius of their home. I remember sharing this data with people on the Internet and I was blasted by someone who said that my data amounted to an “unscientific” study and that my sample size was too small to claim it was good data. That was the day that I knew that someone needed to conduct a study on lost cats to determine the typical distances that they travel. I tried to get the word out about the need for a study but met with little success, so I just kept focused on finding pets and training more people. Then in 2017, seventeen years after I first saw the need to study lost pet behavior, I was contacted by Emeritus Professor Jacquie Rand from the University of Queensland after she heard about some preliminary “lost cat behavior” statistics that I had presented at a conference. Professor Rand felt that this data was so critical to disseminate into the animal welfare, sheltering, and veterinary industry that she suggested we collaborate to conduct the Missing Cat Study. Below is a copy of the study which verifies nearly everything I discovered so many years ago—the primary search area for a missing cat needs to be close to the point where it was last seen and the most successful search method to find a missing cat a slow, methodical search of the nearby areas (i.e. neighbor’s yards). It is my hope that this information will encourage the development of professional and volunteer lost cat recovery teams throughout North America and abroad. My next goal is to collaborate to conduct a much-needed “Missing Dog Study” to learn more about the distances and most effective search methods used to recover lost dogs.
Kat Albrecht, Director, Missing Animal Response Network (January 2, 2018
MISSING CAT STUDY
You can read the study (download the PDF) from this page here: FULL MISSING CAT STUDY