Where to Put Your Posters and How to Make Sure People Notice Them

Posters are one of the most successful methods for finding lost cats, but in order to be effective they need to be put up correctly.

In order to be effective your posters must:

  • Be placed in locations where people will notice them AND be able to read them.
  • Be put up in the area where people are most likely to see your missing cat.

Poster Legalities

Please be aware that putting up posters may be against city/town bylaws in many locations.  You may be able to find your town bylaws online or by contacting your Town Clerk.  

While I certainly don't advocate breaking any laws, it has been my experience that signage laws are not enforced in many locations.  However, I have heard stories of people receiving warnings or even fines in other states such as Florida.

A good indication of how strict your town may be about posting signs is whether other signs are posted (e.g. tag sale signs) and how long they stay up.  Utility poles may also have lots of staples from previous posters.  

While it is by far easiest to place posters on utility poles with a staple gun, please be aware that these poles are owned by the utility company and you are not supposed to affix anything to them.  Nailing posters to trees is illegal in some states.  

Please be sure to take down all your posters after you find your cat.  Towns are more tolerant of posters if they aren't left up until they become ratty and fall apart.

Options for Putting Up Posters

Signage bylaws differ by location and it is your responsibility to know them.  Some of the suggestions below may be against the law in your city/town.  

In general, putting up posters on private property (with permission) is less likely to violate any laws.

  • Staple your poster to a wooden pole with a staple gun.  This is the fastest method, but may violate some laws.  Nails or tacks are not recommended.  
  • Attach your poster to a piece of cardboard and stake it into the ground.
  • Use custom-made lawn signs or tape your poster onto recycled political signs.
  • Tape a wooden dowel to the back of your poster and tie (or zip-tie) the poster to a fence, pole, or tree.      
  • Punch holes in your poster and tie (or zip-tie) the poster to a fence, pole or tree.
  • Duct tape your poster to a pole.

Where to Put Your Posters so People See Them AND Can Actually Read Them

Posters work best if placed where people walk, or cars slow down or stop.  

  • Small "T" intersections work well.  Place near where people stop or just after they turn onto the street.
  • At larger intersections, you will need multiple posters.  Larger posters work better. 
  • Posters placed near drive-thru restaurants or gas stations are more noticeable.  

Make sure to face posters toward on-coming traffic or face people as they walk. Do not place posters so that they face across the street or very few people will see them. 

Tips to Make Your Poster More Noticeable

Attach your poster to florescent poster board or use brightly colored tape to make them more visible.  

If posters are placed in page protectors, laminated or printed on waterproof or rip-proof paper, they will last longer. 

Large posters should not be wrapped around a pole.  This makes them very difficult to read. However, this is often okay with small posters and they may stay up longer.

If you use small posters on faster roads, consider putting up 2-3 posters in a row.  This can give people time to read the poster.

Where Put Up Your Posters

How far out you put up posters depends on where you live, your cat's personality and their previous outdoor experience.  Of these, location probably plays the biggest role.  

The goal is to get as many people as possible to see your posters.  Since most indoor cats don't travel far, it's more important to start with lots of posters close to home (up to 1/4 mile) before expanding farther.

In Urban or Suburban Areas

If you live in a city or town:

  • 500-foot radius - Put up posters at all intersections within 500 feet.  If people also walk in the area, put up several posters along straight roads as well.
  • 1/4 Mile - If possible, put posters up at all intersections up to 1/4 mile.  If there are too many intersections, focus on those with the most traffic.  Also consider adding posters along the 1/4 mile perimeter if no intersections are nearby.  
  • 1/2 Mile - Put up posters at busier intersections up to 1/2 mile.  These may need to be larger posters to be visible.  Think about how people enter and leave your neighborhood.  These are the most important locations.  Also, if there are any popular businesses nearby, put posters there as well.  
  • 1 Mile - If you don't have any sightings after your posters have been up for a few weeks, consider expanding your poster area.  You should again focus on busier intersections and businesses within this area.  Drive-thru coffee or fast food establishments are great locations.  
  • 2 Miles - If your cat is very bold/friendly or has prior outdoor experience (e.g. former outdoor, stray or feral cat), you may want to expand your poster area farther.  

Here is an example lost cat search and poster map.

Lost Indoor Cat Poster Map

Recommended poster locations for a lost indoor cat in a suburban area. Orange house icon = location lost. Orange circle = 150-foot radius. Red circle = 500-foot radius. Blue circle = 1/4 Mile. Blue balloons = posters.

In Rural Areas

In rural areas, there are often far fewer intersections, so you will need to also put up posters along roads.  If cars drive more than 30 mph, use XL posters or put up 2-3 posters in a row to give people time to read them.  Focus on intersections that most people use and put up multiple posters per intersection.

If you live in the country or a rural area:

  • 1/4 Mile - Put posters up at any and all intersections up to 1/4 mile.  Also put posters along straight roads.  Use larger posters and/or put up 2-3 posters in a row.
  • 1 Mile - Put up posters at all intersections up to 1 mile.  Think about how people enter and leave your neighborhood.  These are the most important locations.  Also, if there are any businesses nearby, put posters there as well.  
  • 2-3 Miles - If you don't have any sightings after your posters have been up for a week or two, consider expanding your poster area.  You should again focus on busier intersections and businesses within this area.  

Here is an example lost cat search and poster map.

Lost Indoor Cat Poster Map in a Rural Area

Recommended initial poster locations for a lost indoor cat in a rural area. Orange house icon = location lost. Red circle = 500-foot radius. Blue circle = 1/4 Mile. Yellow Circle = 1/2 Mile. Purple Circle = 1 Mile. Blue balloons = posters.