When it comes to recovering lost pets, a new research has found that worried owners are more likely to be reunited with their pet, if it happens to be a dog rather than a cat.
Researchers Linda Lord from Ohio State University, along with Thomas Wittum and Päivi Rajala-Schultz, both in the department of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State; Amy Ferketich, division of epidemiology, School of Public Health at Ohio State; and Julie Funk, with National Food Safety and Toxicology Center in East Lansing, Michigan, conducted two studies on missing pets, and found that dogs are more easily recovered than pet cats.
They state that this is not only due to the reason that under Ohio law dogs are required to be licensed, but that people also have the notion that missing cats will generally find their way home.
Lord and her colleagues conducted a four-month study which they limited to Dayton, Ohio, and the surrounding county.
They collected information on lost cats and dogs by scanning classified advertisements in the local newspaper and by contacting the county dog warden and two area humane societies.
Each agency kept a log of the phone number and date of contact for any owner who called or visited the agency regarding a lost cat or dog.
They also interviewed by phone owners of lost pets who agreed to participate in the study. Collectively, these owners reported the disappearance of 138 cats and 187 dogs. Owners answered a series of questions related to the recovery of their pet, including what kind of methods they used to search for the missing animal.
The researchers also asked the owners if the animal was wearing an identification tag; a rabies tag; a dog license tag (applies only to dogs); or had a microchip at the time it disappeared. Each shelter scanned animals for microchips.
The team found that two out of three (66 percent) of the lost cats came home on their own while only 8 percent of lost dogs returned home on their own.
The researchers also noted that more than a third of the recovered dogs were found by a call or visit to an animal shelter. More than one in four dogs was found because the animal wore a dog license or identification tag at the time of its disappearance.
“Many people think that a missing cat just comes home on its own. Most of the lost cats that were recovered in our study did return home on their own, but nearly half of the cats reported missing were never found,” said Lord.
More than one out of three owners (35 percent) found their lost dogs at a shelter. Just 7 percent of cat owners who recovered their pet found it at a shelter.
“Cat owners tend to wait longer to call and visit a shelter. The cats that stayed missing during the study may have been in a shelter, and could have been euthanised because their owner didn't call or visit the shelter,” Lord added.
The researchers also found that one of the reasons why pet cats were not so easily reunited with their owners was because people tend to wait about three days before contacting a local animal shelter, while dog owners wait about a day to do so.
The results of the two studies appear in the January 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.