Coming home to find a missing cat is never fun – or so found Lauren Watson, a student at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. But with patience, creativity, and a bit of luck, she was reunited with her buddy Lincoln, in a week.

Here’s her firsthand account of how she went about her search – and why she’s now convinced the Tractive GPS is her key to 100% peace of mind. (And Lincoln’s safety.)

That time Lincoln went missing when I wasn’t at home…

Lauren Watson and her cat, Lincoln

Lincoln is my 3 year old tuxedo kitty. I’m in my final year of veterinary school and he was actually an employee at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine too. I adopted him two months into vet school when he was 6 months old and retired. (Lucky him!)

More importantly, Lincoln escaped sometime around New Year’s Eve in 2023 – while I was out of town visiting family for the holidays. It wasn’t until the next day that my housemate truly realized his disappearance.

She called me and I made the 4 hour trek back home that same day – but not before calling and updating his microchip and reporting him on every missing animal website and Facebook page I could find. (Including Pawboost.)

When I got home, I panicked – I just didn’t know where to start looking!

Lincoln was an indoor-only cat who had never been outside. Which is why I was advised to search early in the morning (4am) and late at night (11pm).

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The first night I got back, I went on a night search by myself in my neighborhood at midnight.

The next morning at 5am, I did the same thing. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much until I found him.

What I did

💡I started making flyers to put on light poles and miniature flyers to put in mailboxes. Everyone in my town likely has my number now!

💡Besides, I also did multiple repetitious foot searches at different times a day and stuffed mailboxes along the way.

💡I talked to every neighbor I passed and told them my story.

💡I took my big flyers and gave one to every veterinary clinic in town, almost all of which had a lost and found display board so that their clients could also see the missing posters. Some clinics offered to tape these fliers in their front window – as did my podiatrist.

Here’s a free Lost Cat poster template you can click to download, print, and edit with your details right away:

Lost cat poster

Some of the sillier things I did…

🤓 Hung my dirty socks and underwear on my fence in case my scent would draw him home.

🤓 Did a foot search at 11pm with a rotisserie chicken in hand in case the scent would draw him out.

🤓 Covered my car with his missing flyers (which I affectionately called the cat-mobile).

🤓 I even contacted a hoodoo priestess (my friend – not a random hoodoo priestess) for a tarot reading and advice!

As crazy these things were, I was absolutely desperate to find Lincoln.

What I did NOT do

⚠️ A live capture trap. He wouldn’t go near it, I already knew that.

⚠️ Putting his litterbox outside. This is terrible myth that will lead to wildlife and other cats in your yard – not to mention possible spread of fecal-borne diseases.

⚠️ Expanding my search outside of my nuclear neighborhood. I did put up some flyers at my old address, but besides the vet clinics, I knew he wouldn’t walk miles and miles away.

Read more: How Long Do Cats Go Missing For? And Why?

And finally…

At 3 AM sometime in early January, my neighbor caught a video of Lincoln outside her door.

I was asleep at the time of course, so he’d probably found his way inside through our dog door. At 7 AM, my housemate found him sitting outside my bedroom door.

Lincoln the cat sitting in bed

For 6 days, I was inconsolably sobbing and obsessively searching – and upon finding him, the guilt I felt was immeasurable.

I felt like not only a bad cat mom – but a bad veterinarian. How can an almost-veterinarian lose her cat and not be able to find him?

Of course now, I realize that any person, child, or pet can go missing – and that doesn’t reflect on the family.

Why I needed a way to keep Lincoln safe from harm

Understanding Lincoln’s behavior on a veterinary level, I knew that keeping him inside would be difficult.

Lincoln the cat wearing his Tractive GPS

He has a newfound roaming tendency – and we have a dog door for the multiple other pets we have in the house.

There’s no way to lock it without negatively impacting all of the other pets.

💡So when I got the email that Tractive was offering a tracker with subscription, I knew that was the best option.

Why I’d recommend the Tractive GPS for all pet parents

With Lincoln’s Tractive tracker, I know his exact location all the time from an app on my phone. I love seeing:

Everyone I show gets a tickle at seeing his route and his calories burned!

Live tracking Cat GPS tracker

The one time he got his collar off, it was super easy to find the tracker via the app.

I’ve also noted its accuracy with the Live feature the few times I’ve wanted point-by-point location tracking.

Besides, the Light and Sound feature on his collar allowed me to train him to come inside when he hears the sound.

My experience with the Apple AirTag

I tried an AirTag before the Tractive came in the mail and it had terrible location and wouldn’t update unless I was near him.

Meaning I couldn’t check Lincoln’s location from school or while traveling. So it would be completely useless if he went missing again.

Lincoln the cat sitting on a couch

Lincoln’s Tractive is an absolute must, and he will have it for the rest of his life.

My future pets will have one too. The peace of mind is invaluable.

– Lauren & Lincoln

Read more: 3 Problems You’ll Run Into Using Apple AirTag For Cats

Lauren Watson and her cat, Lincoln

Lauren Watson is a student at the UC David School of Veterinary Medicine – and a happy Tractive user since 2023.

When her cat Lincoln went missing, it took her around a week to find him again. After which, Lauren realized she needed a way to keep track of his newfound case of wanderlust.

So with a Tractive device strapped to Lincoln’s collar, Lauren now has complete peace of mind and the assurance she can find him – no matter how far he roams.

And if you’re a cat parent yourself and want to keep your wandering buddy safe, here’s how you can…

Know everywhere your cat goes

See where they are in real-time, no matter how far they go. Get alerts if they roam too far home. Find out where they’ve been and discover their favorite spots. Let others track with you.

Discover Cat GPS Trackers