Cats have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in the United States, with American households owning an estimated 72 million cats in 2002.1 Even more so than dogs, cats that stray from their homes are at risk for injury and death. Given the emotional attachment that many owners have to their pets, having a cat stray from its home may be particularly stressful to the owner.
Various methods have been used to reunite stray cats with their owners (eg, identification tags and microchips) or to recover cats that have strayed (eg, placing an advertisement in the newspaper, posting signs in the neighborhood, and contacting local animal shelters). However, the effectiveness of these various methods in the recovery of lost cats has not been evaluated. The purposes of the study reported here, therefore, were to characterize the process by which owners search for lost cats and identify factors associated with time to recovery. The present study was performed at the same time as a similar study2 of the methods owners use to search for lost dogs.
Copies of the telephone survey are available from the corresponding author on request.
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