Go looking for the cat as soon as you realise it is missing. The technique of waiting for the animal to come home might work with dogs, but the same rule does not apply to cats. However, cats are territorial creatures by nature, and will generally not stray far, so you will need to start the search by looking around in your own neighbourhood, as opposed to wandering too far. If time continues to pass and you still haven’t found the kitty, then you can begin to increase your search radius.
Spread the word, so other people become aware of the fact that your cat is missing, and can join in the search. Stick up flyers with your cat’s picture on them, and offer a reward for its return. Put an advert in the newspaper, and keep an eye on the classified section, in case someone happens to find the kitty. Meanwhile, call everyone from the Humane Society and Animal Control to your vet. Speak to local pet shops, your neighbours, and even the local postal worker, imploring anyone who sees your cat to let you know immediately.
Extend your search into the night-time. Go looking for the cat with a flashlight and a box of treats. Shake the box, and gently call the cat’s name. Search underneath bushes, in garages, in trees, and under porches. You can also attempt to lure the cat back home by placing some strong-smelling food outside on your porch – while it might not encourage the cat to return home immediately, as the cat might eat the food and then go back in hiding, it will keep the feline close to home.
Once you do locate your cat, do not rush to grab it. A skittish cat will generally be attempting to run away from all human beings, including its owners, so make sure you take it slow. Approach the cat quietly and slowly, softly calling its name, and extending a hand with a treat in it. Make sure you wear gloves, so that when you get close enough to the cat, you can pick it up while remaining protected from any panicked scratching and clawing.