Your Cat’s Personality & Why It Matters
People who are frantically looking for their lost cat often give me quizzical looks when the first question I ask them is to describe their cat’s personality. You see, the temperament of your cat will directly influence its behavior when lost. You know your cat better than anyone else and only you can give the best personality profile of your pet.
It can be difficult to describe a person that we know. People are complicated and wear different masks for different occasions. Deep down, though, people aren’t 100% introverted or extroverted in all situations. Everyone is a blending of some kind and this can make personality descriptions chaotic.
Cats, on the other hand, fit into one of four distinct personality types and will behave according to their personality. This can be very useful information should they become lost or displaced!
These are cats that don’t scare easily. They are overly-friendly cats that run to meet strangers. When displaced, these cats might hide initially for a short time due to the newness of their situation, but then they will most likely begin to travel. The strategy for finding them should be to place ﬂorescent posters within at least a five block radius. Also, interview neighbors in a door-to-door. Thoroughly search possible hiding places in yards of houses and other areas within a close proximity to the escape point. Do not assume that the cat will come when you call!
These cats don’t seem to care much about people one way or the other. When a stranger is present, they stand back and watch. When displaced they will likely initially hide, but eventually they will break cover and come back home, meow, or possibly travel. The strategy should be to search hiding places nearby, interview neighbors door-to-door and search their yards. If these efforts do not produce results, consider setting a baited humane trap.
These cats like people, but when a stranger comes to the door they dart and hide. Some of these cats peek around the corner and eventually come out to investigate. When displaced, they will likely immediately hide in fear. They will typically return to the point where they escaped or they will meow when the owner comes to look for them. This behavior usually is observed either within the first two days (after the cat has built up confidence) or not until seven to ten days later when their hunger or thirst has reached a point where they will respond. The strategy would be to conduct a tightly focused search in neighbors‘ yards and to set baited humane traps.
Xenophobia means “fear of things strange or foreign”. Xenophobic cats are afraid of EVERYTHING that is unfamiliar. Their fearful behavior is hardwired into their character and it is caused by genetics and/or kittenhood experiences. These cats will hide when a stranger comes into their home and they typically will not come out until well after the visitor has left. They do not do well when being held or petted and are easily disturbed by any change in their environment. When displaced, they bolt and then HIDE IN SILENCE. They tend to remain in the same hiding place and become virtually immobilized with fear. If they are found by someone other than their owners, they appear to be untamed or “feral”. The primary strategy to recover these cats would be to set baited humane traps. Xenophobic cats that become “lost” are routinely absorbed into the feral cat population.