As much as we love our furry feline friends, it’s not uncommon for cats to run away and disappear for several days or even longer. While we trust that they will return home, the reality is that this isn’t always the case. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats run away and whether lost cats can find their way back home.
Your Home is Too Stressful for Them
Cats are creatures of habit and easily become stressed when their environment is chaotic. If your home is too noisy, or if there are changes in the family dynamic, your cat may decide to take off in search of calmer surroundings. Even small changes, such as home renovations or a new cat in the neighborhood, can spook your cat and cause them to seek refuge elsewhere. Yelling or punishing your cat is also a cause of stress, so it’s important to create a calm and stable environment for your furry friend.
They Are Searching for a Mate
A cat’s reproductive drive is a powerful thing, and if you don’t spay or neuter your cat, they’ll be overcome by the urge to roam and look for a mate. This can lead them to bolt out the door, chew through screens, or spend hours casing the joint in search of a weakness in your home. If these urges carry them far enough away from the neighborhood they’re familiar with, they may struggle to find their way back home again. Neutering or spaying your cat can significantly reduce their urge to escape in search of a mate.
They Don’t Feel Well
If your cat suddenly starts running away from you and it’s out of character, this could indicate that they are not feeling well. When cats are ill, they prefer to go somewhere concealed, quiet, and isolated to recover on their own without any disturbances. They may decide that the most peaceful spot for them is not in your home. If your cat is on the verge of dying, they may wander off in search of solitude and not be able to make it home again. To ensure that your cat is in good shape, it’s essential to take them in for regular vet visits.
They Want to Claim More Territory
Cats have an insatiable thirst for acquiring new territory. Once your cat has become completely comfortable inside your home environment, they may desire to expand their kingdom by venturing out beyond the limits of your house. That’s especially true if there are other outdoor cats in your neighborhood. If your cat sees these other cats encroaching on their territory, they may feel the need to get out there and show those cats who’s boss.
They Want to Hunt
Cats are known for their strong hunting instinct. They love to hunt and chase prey animals, and your cat may be distracted while chasing a rodent or lured to explore further afield. Before they know it, they’re lost and far from home. To redirect their energy, actively playing with them, offering them plenty of stimuli like toys, and even getting a second pet can help reduce the chance of them getting lost.
They’re Cheating on You
If you have an outdoor cat that leaves at the same time every day or one that will disappear for days at a time before coming back, there’s a good chance that they have another family somewhere nearby. Other friendly humans may have taken a liking to your cat and begun feeding them or even letting them inside their house regularly. Putting a collar with ID on your pet can make it clear to other people that they have an owner.
Something Has Spooked Your Cat
Cats are super-sensitive little animals. When they get frightened, one of their strongest instincts will be to get away from whatever is scaring them. Many outdoor cats have been run off by a neighbor’s dog, and if there has been a thunderstorm or some fireworks nearby, your cat may suddenly run away to protect themselves. This is why it’s important never to tease your cat or scare them with objects like cucumbers. What may be amusing to you could be terrifying to your cat.
They’re Feeling Neglected
If you leave your cat alone at home for long periods of time or don’t give them as much attention and affection as they need, they could go searching for love elsewhere. While your cat’s independent nature may tempt you into thinking that they don’t need you, studies have proven otherwise. A lonely cat is more likely to run off at the first opportunity. It doesn’t take much to meet your cat’s needs for attention, so try to carve out a few minutes every day to play with them and give them a few scratches. It’s good for them and good for you too.
Cats also run away because they are curious animals who love to explore the world. Maybe your cat likes chasing insects or butterflies, or perhaps they got distracted by a neighbor kid or a bird. If there’s something enticing nearby, your cat is likely to roam away from home. In big cities, cats have been known to gang up in back alleys, and your feline friend may be drawn to the idea of having lots of new friends.
Can Cats Find Their Way Back Home?
Cats have great intelligence and acutely developed senses, but there is no guarantee that they will always be able to find their way back home. Some will be able to get their bearings from their environment, but others may escape to the point where they lose these bearings and put their safety at risk. Assuming your pet will come back on their own is wrong and potentially dangerous. When they are lost, some cats find their way back home because they leave olfactory traces along the way. They rub their head, scratch trees, and pee to diffuse their pheromones and leave a trace for them to find later. Some evidence supports the idea that cats are even able to use the Earth’s geomagnetic fields to locate their homes. However, some cats may keep moving in the wrong direction and not be able to make it home again.
What Can You Do if Your Cat Goes Missing?
If your cat goes missing, the first thing you should do is look for them in the immediate area. You can also publicize them on social media, put out flyers, check with shelters, and speak to your local vet. If your cat has a microchip, a vet can scan them and call you using your up-to-date information. It’s also a good idea to let your neighbors know that your cat is missing, in case they spot them while out and about. Remember, the sooner you start looking, the better the chances of finding your lost cat.
Cats run away for many reasons, and lost cats don’t always find their way back home. As responsible pet owners, it’s important to ensure that our cats are happy, healthy, and safe. We can do this by creating a calm and stable environment, spaying or neutering our pets, providing them with regular vet visits, playing with them, and giving them plenty of attention and affection. If your cat goes missing, there are steps you can take to increase the chances of finding them. By being proactive and taking good care of our feline friends, we can help reduce the likelihood of them running away and increase the chances of them finding their way back home.