Scent Luring To Retrieve Cats

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Scent Luring To Retrieve Cats

Many experts recommend that if your cat is lost that you spread cat litter, cat feces, or scent articles of the cat owner around the home that the cat is missing from. The idea is that your cat ran away or is our of the area and by putting something with your scent on it, like a dirty T-shirt, in your yard, it will attract your cat and entice it to come home. This is likely not a very useful way to attract your cat.

Your scent is already dispersed outside of your home so there’s no need to lay scent articles all over the place. Cats don’t respond readily to scent, especially when they’re panicked and afraid. Once they’ve become accustomed to their new location (or hiding place) they sometimes will respond to scent. The scent they’ll respond to is usually only food scents and that’s because at this point they’re hungry. So use baited human traps with food instead.

There will be testimonials online from cat owners who swear by scent luring by spraying their urine, placing dirty clothing, or scattering dirty cat litter in their yards. Nearly all of these incidents involve cats that were indoor-only cats that escaped outdoors and in some cases outdoor-access cats. These particular cats probably returned home not from the scent, but rather from a behavior called “The Threshold Phenomenon” or their own temperament. Threshold Phenomenon, basically, is the time a cat will wait before it becomes hungry and starts to move. So cats that were believed to have come home due to scent would have come home anyway without a scent lure in the first place. 

Another reason why scent luring is not recommended for bringing cats home is that it’s a passive approach to finding a lost cat. Cat owners might believe they are being proactive by placing scent articles around when their time could be better utilized conducting an aggressive, physical search of their yard or by setting humane traps in the area. Of course, it’s less intrusive to your neighbor to lay a dirty t-shirt in your yard than it is to ask permission to crawl under their house, but obtaining permission from a neighbor to physically search their yard is a great method.