Your cat is missing, and your in panic mode. Stay calm: Although injured or fearful felines might not immediately reveal their hiding spot, most lost cats are found close to home.

I know it's hard not to panic. I've been there. A few years ago my family went through a missing cat situation with our indoor/outdoor feline Ivan.

Ivan was missing for a little over a month. We posted on Facebook, placed an listing in the newspaper with his picture, and searched all over our neighborhood for him.

It was shortly after we placed the listing in the newspaper that we got a call from a woman who thought she had seen Ivan in an alley near her home.

My mom got in the car immediately and went to the location. She started calling his name and all the sudden he came out from behind a garbage can. He was meowing like crazy!

Ivan was found a little over a mile from our house. He has never roamed that far before. He normally stays in the yard or our neighbor's yard. But he's a friendly cat, who allows people to pick him up and hold him, so we think perhaps someone had interacted with him before and decided to take him home. We also think that Ivan probably meowed so much, the person got annoyed and just threw him outside. We'll never know. We were just lucky to have a good outcome.

If your cat goes missing, don't give up hope. Follow these steps to find your cat.

Scour your house by checking all small spaces-inside torn box springs, under furniture, and in chimneys, closets, basements and attics.

Investigate within a five-house radius, including outbuildings, crawl spaces and garages. Talk to your neighbors about letting you search their property.

Alert your neighbors by posting eye-catching posters in your neighborhood with contact information and a recent, clear image of your cat.

Consider recent events--have you or your neighbors renovated or moved recently? Your cat might have hitched a ride on a moving truck or be trapped in a newly constructed wall.

Search at night, with a flashlight, when the streets are quieter and he's more likely to feel safe out in the open.

Consider using tools such as humane traps containing a bowl of his favorite stinky food and motion-activated wildlife cameras placed close to home. Stay away from traps that ‘snap’ closed. Don’t ever leave a trap set and unmonitored. Don't use cans of food, kitty can cut his tongue/mouth. Place the food in a bowl.

Visit local animal shelters every few days--a kindly stranger might not have known your cat already has a loving home. (And when you find him, put a collar and tag on that bad boy! Microchip too!)

Don't Give up! Many cats are found after weeks or months of searching.

So to recap,

Kitties go missing every day. Most cats are lost and stay within a short distance from home.

If your kitty is lost, don’t give up. It’s possible to catch them.

Talk to your neighbors. Kitty may be in their garage, under a shed or porch. Look in culverts, any hidey hole.

Keep feeding them at their regular time as close to your home as possible.

Check every sighting. If you know the general area where kitty is, you can trap them.

A litterbox outside will only attract predators. Stinky food, like tuna or sardines, or even just your old shirt…that might work! But keep food close and don’t leave it out after dark. Predators.

At night, look around your house for glowing eyes…look up! Sometimes kitty may have been treed by something scary.

If you have a game camera, USE IT!

Make bright posters. Don’t just post them, hand them out.

Contact all the pound and shelters in the area. They may have your kitty.

Cats are experts at survival. There’s always a chance.

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