Lost cats and dogs

Steps to take to find your lost cat or dog:

  1. Carefully search your home and make sure your pet isn't hiding. Be sure to check any unusual places it can access.
  2. If your cat or dog is microchipped and the details are not current, contact the microchip agency and update your details immediately.
  3. Contact your local council pound. Descriptions of cats and dogs can vary greatly, and collars and tags can come off. Try to visit the pound to check for your cat. Repeat visits may be necessary until your pet is found. Take a cat carrier, collar and lead. Also take documentation such as proof of your identity, your pet's registration papers, vaccination certificates and photos. If your pet is not found, leave a description, when and where it was lost, and your name and number.
  4. Call and visit neighbouring pounds, animal shelters and vet clinics. The RSPCA also has a fact sheet with a list of useful contact numbers.
  5. Ask neighbours if they have seen your pet. Search the neighbourhood and calling your pet's name.
  6. Create a 'Lost Pet' flyer. Distribute it to houses and shops in your neighbourhood. The flyer should include a photo, your pet's name, what it answers to, a detailed description, when and where your pet went missing, your name and contact number, and mention a reward (if applicable).
  7. Finally, put a 'Lost and Found' notice in newspapers, notify radio stations that offer free announcements.

If your pet is registered and identified, any council pound that takes it in will notify you in writing within four days of impoundment. Councils must hold all identified, impounded cats and dogs for 8 days. It is important you begin looking for your lost pet as soon as you realise it is missing. If you do not reclaim your pet within 8 days, council may rehome or euthanase it.

If the lost pet has been handed into a vet clinic or animal shelter, and is identifiable by microchip or council registration tag, the owner will be contacted to collect the pet. The vet clinic or animal shelter must record details about the lost pet and who collected it. This information is reported to the relevant local council.

If you are collecting a lost pet from a vet, they can ask you to pay a reasonable fee to cover some of the reunification costs (just as the council pound would do). You do not have to pay the fee,  however we encourage you to do so if you can, as vets are providing owners with a valuable community service.

Lost and stray cats and dogs

Find out about what to do if you've found a lost or stray cat or dog.

Page last updated: 14 Sep 2022