The idea of your cat escaping the house is worrisome to a committed pet parent. There are numerous potential causes for this to occur, and there are steps you may take to reduce the likelihood of this troubling situation.
Let’s examine the most frequent causes of cat disappearances as well as what to do in these situations.
1. Cat Looking For A Mate
If you own a tom cat that has not been castrated, he is likely to get a little frisky and set out in search of a female cat. It is suggested that male cats are likely to have much larger territories than females and their neutered counterparts.
Entire males are certainly feistier when it comes to getting into scraps with other cats, particularly if their territories overlap. Hunting out a potential mate and moving away from other aggressive cats might lead your cat onto pastures new, motivating him to leave home.
Sometimes hormones and feline instincts win out no matter how much they love being snuggled up at home with you. To reduce the risk of roaming and hopefully keep any fighting at bay, it is recommended that you speak to your vet about whether to neuter your cat. It is a quick and straightforward procedure that might save you a lot of heartaches.
2. Cat Is Young, Brave, And In Search Of food
Most cats have a natural curiosity, and some cats love to hunt or even just chase prey species. If your cat’s territory is close to woodland or other prime hunting environments, and they have a strong hunting instinct, then they may be lured to explore further afield.
Some cats can survive for long periods on the prey that they hunt. GPS trackers have shown that younger cats are more likely to have larger territories and are more likely to roam.
3. Cat Got Scared By Something
Cats are super-sensitive little beings. All sorts of things can frighten them. Perhaps there has been a storm or some fireworks nearby? Of course, your cat is not running from home, but trying to move away from whatever is frightening them, often to somewhere they can hide until the danger passes.
Some cats will be afraid if there is a new, confident cat in the neighborhood, particularly if they are being bullied. Or your female cat might be getting harassed by the local tom cat. Check your cat for any scratches or signs of fighting and make sure that no neighborhood cats have access to your home.
If you know there is a storm brewing, or a national holiday coming up, consider keeping your cat shut in with the drapes pulled and music on. If you have a very nervous cat, consider speaking to your veterinarian about calming pheromones and medications that might help.
4. Changes At Home Are Causing Your Cat Stress
It is all too common that cats will leave home after a significant change in the home, for example: moving home, building works, family coming to stay, or the arrival of a new baby. Even smaller changes such as moving furniture, having a dinner party, or a new scent in the environment can be enough to stress him out and make him flee.
If you have a cat that is sensitive to change, it is important to plan for this whenever there is likely to be any upheaval in the home. Often setting him up a safe space in a quiet area of the home will suffice until the disruption has cleared.
5. Cat Has Got Lost, Trapped, Or Become Injured
It’s upsetting to think that your cat may have got lost or hurt. Cats will become lost if they have unexpectedly traveled in a vehicle, got spooked and moved beyond their territory, succumb to illness, or are elderly and become easily confused. In warmer months, cats can become shut in outbuildings and garages or trapped in a crawl space if there is a sudden change in the weather.
This is particularly worrying when people are away on holiday, and an outbuilding is locked for some time. A simple rule is to always check your outhouse before shutting up for the night and that there are no unexpected passengers before you embark on any car journey!
Depending on your region, predators such as snakes, coyotes, cougars, and birds of prey may also pose a real risk to your cat. Thankfully, if your cat is found with an injury, most people understand that your cat is a much-loved pet and will take him straight to a veterinarian.
6. Someone Is Feeding Your Cat
You love your cat dearly, but if he is a sociable soul, then so might your neighbors. It is common for cats to visit other households, and people often think it’s kind to feed them; don’t forget, some cats are experts at begging for food!
Unfortunately, this can cause all sorts of problems and may eventually lead to your cat leaving home. Perhaps they get prawns every day at their new abode, or the neighbors are home all day to give your cat non-stop affection? You can see how your cat might be tempted by the change of environment, but it does not mean that it is in their best interests in the long term.
If you are worried that your cat is eating out every night, or they have a specific medical condition that makes them super-hungry, or they require a special diet, you should alert your neighbors to this. A simple solution is to write a message on your cat’s collar or make a temporary paper collar. Or even better, stop by and have a friendly chat with them in person.
7. Cat Get Rescued
Cat-loving citizens will often be concerned if they see an elderly, frail cat wandering the streets or a young kitten playing on the road where there are vehicles. Some will believe that the safest option for that pet is to be taken to the pound or a local veterinary clinic as the cat might be a stray, lost, or unwell. In some cases, animal control will pick up pets that appear to be stray.
Sadly, some of these cats never reunite with their owners despite the best intentions of the passer-by. Ensuring your cat is microchipped is the single most important step you can take to give your missing cat the best chance of being reunited with you.