I have a technique that has worked several times when contractors, house keepers and children accidentally let out INDOOR ONLY cats.
It is important that you read this whole section carefully.
When indoor-only cats get out, they usually stay within about 500 feet of your home. They usually run immediately under some kind of structure. Usually, a porch, a shed, a Jacuzzi….that is nearby.
You need to search at 4 O’Clock in the morning. So early that there is NO OTHER NOISE AROUND from birds, airplanes, cars, barking dogs, etc.
The reason is NOT so that your cat can hear YOU calling. It is so that YOU can hear your CAT responding with soft, scared meows.
Take someone with you and take your cell-phone (VOLUME TURNED OFF) for safety. Be sure you both have soft soled shoes on and walk very quietly. The person doing the calling should be the person your cat trusts the most. And DO NOT talk together. Make no noise other than the soft calling of your cat’s name. (If you talk, you could miss her cries…and it will scare your cat to have another human making noises.)
If you are carrying a flashlight and you hear a meowing sound or a cry, DO NOT SHINE THE FLASHLIGHT IMMEDIATELY in the direction of the source. Stop walking and keep calling and listening…..when you pinpoint the direction, place the flashlight glare very quickly in the direction, then away……then keep the flashlight pointing in the other direction while you squat and call your kitty’s name. If he or she won’t come to you, sidle slowly in the direction of the meowing shining the light toward the cat as little as possible. Try to shine it just on the ground IN FRONT OF the noise area. A directly shining light might cause the kitty to run. Carrying a lantern might be a good idea, because it won’t have that scary glare that looks to a cat like a car’s headlights.
You do not need to call out your cat’s name loudly, just call as if you are in the other room. She or he will hear you. WALK EXTREMELY SLOWLY AS YOU GO DOWN THE PATH OR STREET. Call two times, then wait and listen EXTREMELY CAREFULLY. When your cat recognizes your voice he or she will start to meow quietly. IF YOU DON’T HEAR ANYTHING, WALK SEVERAL MORE FEET and call again, then wait and listen. Do this for several blocks….then come back in the same direction.
If he or she is not on that particular street, go to the street behind you and try again. Again, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU GO BEFORE THE NOISES OF THE DAY BEGIN.
It can also help to shake a baggie of treats gently as you walk.
Sometimes it takes two or more mornings of doing this.
ALSO…VERY IMPORTANT: get a collapsible cat carrier (from Petco, PetSmart or your vet office). They are made of cardboard…I think they cost only $8 or so. Practice setting it up with one hand and closing the top securely, quickly. Spray cat nip spray on the inside and outside of it. This way your cat will see you carrying a flat cardboard piece with you rather than a carrier.
Many cats are fine being just carried in the arms of mama or papa once they are found but others get scared and confused and will fight to get out of your arms. Once they do that, it can be hard to get your cat to come to you again, later.
Almost always, the cat is within 500 feet or so from your home.
The internet has other ideas (clothes and blankets that smell like you, set out on your porch, is a good one.) So read other information as well. But this active way of searching usually is what is best.
BEST OF LUCK TO YOU in your search.