Maybe I'm missing something fundamental by how can it be that the following code works fine and finds an entity:

$model = Mage::getModel('catalog/category')->loadByAttribute('url_key', $urlKeyToCheck);

And the following is not:

$model = Mage::getModel('catalog/category');
$model->loadByAttribute('url_key', $urlKeyToCheck);
  • So did that answer your question? May 22 '14 at 17:38

loadByAttribute returns an object, not related to the current model instance:

public function loadByAttribute($attribute, $value, $additionalAttributes = '*')
    $collection = $this->getResourceCollection()
        ->addAttributeToFilter($attribute, $value)

    foreach ($collection as $object) {
        return $object;
    return false;

loadByAttribute does not work like load.
load changes the current model instance, loadByAttribute doesn't. It just returns the first object in the collection that has a specified value for a certain attribute.

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