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.
Two out of three (66 percent) of the lost cats came home on their own. Only 8 percent of lost dogs returned home on their own.
"Many people think that a missing cat just comes home on its own," Lord said. "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."
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," said Lord, adding that cat owners waited about three days before contacting a local animal shelter, while dog owners waited about a day to do so.
"The cats that stayed missing during the study may have been in a shelter, and could have been euthanized because their owner didn't call or visit the shelter," Lord said.
One of the best ways to locate a pet may be to post a sign in the neighborhood, the study showed.
Posted signs resulted in the return of 15 percent of recovered dogs and 11 percent of found cats. Six dogs (4.5 percent) and two cats (3 percent) made it home because of an advertisement in the newspaper.
"Less than half of the pet owners in this study hung signs around their neighborhood," Lord said. "But this could be a very effective way to find a pet. If someone loses a pet, they should ge
Source:Ohio State University