Lost Cats, Considered Academically (Laurier #3 of 4)

There are very few scholarly works based around the theme of lost cats. For an example paper, see the work of Dr. Laurier, who is a Senior Lecturer in Geography & Interaction, Institute of Geography & the Lived Environment, University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Laurier takes on the cat question in his study:

The Cat in the Shed : pets as moral and spatial features of a community’.

“Owners can grow worried about their cat’s absence. A cat can go missing from a household. It can be a lost living thing in a neighbourhood. We can search for a cat that we cannot find without hunting for it, we can search for it because we want to recover it, not to trap it or kill it. What is that makes a cat a cat like that and not like a mole or a rat or a salmon? Just how do we care for this animal?”

The investigation used as its basis a series of ‘Lost Cat’ notices affixed to various outdoor structures in an urban area of Edinburgh, Scotland. Example :


‘MISSING / Small female / Ginger cat / with
blue collar / /// / Last seen 5th December Carrington Street, Please Phone xxxxxxx // ((handwritten))
please check your gardens + sheds + garages.’

“From the paper trail that the owners left I acquired a sense of their attachment to this cat. It offere [sic] me a sense of their earnest effort to discover their cat’s fate. I thought they would be lucky should they ever get it back. Missing cats mostly stay missing. [*see note below]

What does this imply for the cat?

For the cat, it has become a noticeable absence. It has become a marked cat (like a marked man).

The cat cannot read, it has no idea that has become a marked cat unlike the crime suspect who may find their face printed on the front of every newspaper in the country.”

The paper ends, in a section entitled ‘Leftovers’ with this observation :

“Lost cats need to be formulated as such since otherwise there can be some ambiguity, which the cat cannot resolve.

Cats cannot ask directions. Cats can mistakenly show something to humans which they have limited ability to repair. My brushing against your leg and following you into your home should not be mistaken for my being a stray, it is merely that I am both hungry, friendly and trusting.”

COMING SOON : the concluding part of this series …

* Note :

The only other missing cat paper Improbable can find determined that in Montgomery County, Ohio, 53% of lost cats are recovered (and 66% of them return without assistance). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2007 Jan 15;230(2):217-20. Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost cat.
Lord LK, Wittum TE, Ferketich AK, Funk JA, Rajala-Schultz PJ. Source: Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.