Cats can find their way home, but it can take a long time even if the cat is still in the local area. A lost cat usually ventures out only at night and moves slowly from safe hiding place to safe hiding place until finding home or getting picked up by someone.
There are many stories of lost pets, including cats, finding their way home; some of which have traveled hundreds of miles to find their owners. Most pets get lost in their own neighborhood, which makes it much easier for the cat to find its way home.
Both indoor and outdoor cats can find their way back home, however, the outdoor cat has an advantage because it is more familiar with its own territory and the nearby territories of other cats. An indoor cat has a more difficult time because all of its scent markings are inside the home. Consider placing some of the cat's toys and other possessions in the yard. These possessions carry the cat's scent and provide something familiar to help a lost cat get its bearings.