Cats are curious creatures who by nature love to explore, hunt and go on what seems to be prolific adventures if left to their own devices. Many of us know of a cat who is a ‘Houdini’, seemingly able to escape out of the house no matter what obstacle lies in their way.
Both cuddly, cute and fierce predators, it’s important to remember that even our domesticated cats today are hunters at heart, and should be brought inside to deter them attacking native wildlife or getting themselves hurt.
Why do cats run away?
These creatures run away for a variety of reasons, including if you’ve recently moved to a new house, if they’re a curious kitten, if they become spooked by something, they’re answering the mating call of a neighborhood cat, or something has threatened their territory.
Cats are very territorial creatures, who deem your home as theirs and the surrounding property as their kingdom. But skittish cats can become frightened by dogs they encounter and run away to hide somewhere.
You must also deal with the possibility that your cat hasn’t run away but has gotten into a spot of mischief. Cats often get stuck exploring chimneys or down the sides of houses and can stay there for days until someone hears their calls for help. Your cat might have also found a better deal at a neighboring house, and have decided to move out.
5 tips for making sure your cat doesn’t run away
Thankfully, there are a few methods you can put into place to ensure your kitty is staying at home. Before your cat lives up to the old adage “curiosity killed the cat”, set in place the following tips.
1. Be there for them
Your feline might act like a princess or prince, but they do require your company to ensure they’re fulfilling their comfort and social needs. You should never take a holiday or trip over one month in length away from your cat, as they can develop anxiety. Symptoms of this include licking off patches of fur, throwing up food, acting skittish when you return, or just acting out of character in general. They may also try to run away in an attempt to find you or because they no longer feel comfortable at home.
If you travel a lot, it might be a good idea to have your cat stay at one of your most visited places so you’re seeing them often, or if you have a pretty laid back cat, you could potentially have them travel with you. If you’re in a relationship, having one of you stay at home with the cat will help relieve any anxiety or stress that could potentially occur.
2. Make sure your cat is desexed
Cats can run away to answer their more primal calls and get friendly with one or more neighborhood cats they meet. A good way to ensure your cat isn’t painting the town red is to ensure they’re spayed. This can also help control behavioral issues.
3. Set a clear routine
Cats respond really well to routine, and if you’re not convinced, try stalling at dinner time. These food-motivated alarm clocks will make you very aware of what the time is very quick. So, setting a routine for your cat can help them stay close to home if they know they have something at home they’re required for.
A good idea is to have a noise your cat can associate with feeding time. One example of this is banging a spoon loudly on the side of the cat tin and calling something like “Puss Puss! Dinner!” before you feed your cat. If your cat runs away but isn’t far, you can go outside and bang on the tin while calling out, which could potentially help your puss find their way home.
4. Get them microchipped
It’s a good idea to have your cat microchipped when you first get them. A microchip can be scanned if your cat runs away and is handed into a vet, and they’ll be able to contact you to come to collect them. Similarly, a cat tracker is a great device that utilizes GPS to keep tabs on the whereabouts of your pet. Modern cat trackers can even monitor your kitty’s activity levels, so you can ensure she’s getting the right amount of sleep and exercise too.
5. Ground them when moving house
As cats are so territorial, moving house can be quite stressful for them. You’ve probably had at least one house move with your cat and once you brought them into the new home, they spent the next week under one of the couches. Cats don’t respond well to environmental changes, which can cause them to run away to try and get back to the old place.
Aim to keep your cat inside or ‘ground them’ for about a month once you’ve moved so they can get used to the new surroundings. After these first few weeks, you can start to let them out for short bursts to explore the outside, but be sure to bring them back inside and introduce their new territory to them slowly.
A few good things to do include covering your cat carrier so your cat can’t see out when you’re transporting them. Felines have a fantastic sense of direction and if you’re not moving far, your cat could easily run away and return to your old place.
Making sure kitty always comes home
They often say cats were praised as Egyptian gods once – and they’ve never forgotten it. Part of your responsibility as a good cat owner is to provide a comfortable environment for your cat to eat, play, sleep and explore all while bonding with you when they please.
By keeping your cat happy, you can minimize the risk of them running away and keeping out of mischief in the outside world. With the employment of a few easy methods to keep your cat close to home, you’ll enjoy all of your cat’s nine lives for many years to come.