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It's an awful feeling when your indoor cat dashes past you out the door. But it's even more distressing to realize that you've just made matters worse by giving chase.
That's what happened to some clients of pet detective Laura Totis in Clarksburg, Md. She helps find lost pets via phone consultations and a trained search dog.
"They saw the cat 20 feet (six metres) away, and they went after it," she says. "It went another 20 feet away and they did it again, and it disappeared."
When your cat gets out, the first thing to remember is not to panic, Totis advises. Even if you can normally pick up your cat, don't expect it to behave the same as when it's in the house.
"If you walk directly toward it, it will run away," she says. Instead of giving chase, "leave the door open, circle around and herd it in."
In many cases, that simple step is all you'll need. But if your cat has vanished, try these strategies:
-First, be positive the cat's not in the house. Totis once helped search a friend's one-bedroom apartment for several hours. Just when they were convinced the cat must have got out, they found it had crawled up into the draperies and gone to sleep.