I don't normally write about things like this but the incident was traumatizing for all concerned, perhaps it will be helpful to someone in the same circumstances.
My very special Bugsy Malone was lost on April 30th while on the way into the door to get his vaccinations. He took off across the street in into a huge 2 X 2 mile cemetery with rolling hills and woods all around going up to an undeveloped mountain ridge. Around the perimeter of the cemetery are houses on two sides with a shopping district on the third side. Naturally we alerted all the local shelters, the postmen, we registered with the micro-chip company, put classifieds in both local papers and posted Reward posters with pertinent information at intersections, shopping ares etc. We drove at dusk and dawn calling Bugsy and after there were no sightings just false alarms we decided we had to come up with something to get him out of the woods on the mountain ridge where coyotes, fox and rattle snakes live. We followed the following procedure for days 8 and 9 and Bugsy came sauntering in the early morning of the tenth day. We have no idea if what we did worked, if Bugsy has the powers to sense his way home or if God interceded but he's home, thin and tired but fine. So I am posting our formula for finding a cat here.
I have no idea if what I’m writing has any validity but I lost my cat outside the vet’s office about 2 miles from my house. He was gone for 10 days before he came strolling in , starved and exhausted but well.
We decided to give him a scent trail to follow home. Unfortunately our dog is not totally housebroken so we wiped up his urine with an old towel. We tied a 4 foot length of rope around it, put it in a plastic bag and poured enough water on it to drench it. If you don’t have a poorly trained dog, you could probably pour your cat’s messy litter box into a plastic bag with a towel and water. We hung the towel from the trunk of our car and drove the perimeter of where we thought he might be dragging the towel home. We did each side street leading onto the main drag. Where there was grass we scattered very small amounts of used kitty litter, calling out for him the whole time. We went 2 times a day at dusk and dawn.
I have no idea if our method helped, along with posters, shelters, classifieds, knocking on doors but he did manage to find his way home on his own. It might be worth a try.