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Runaway and Disappearance of Cats: Why and How to Reduce Risks?

My Cat Scratches the Sofa Tips and Advice to Save Your Furniture 1

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With the return of sunny days, your cat is more likely to venture outdoors. The risks of runaway incidents are therefore increased, affecting both your sleep and peace of mind. How can you prevent such situations from occurring?

Avoiding the Disappearance of Your Cat

Identifying the Reasons

A cat is deeply attached to its territory and enjoys roaming around a wide area, albeit self-imposed limits. However, some cats have the unfortunate habit of exploring elsewhere for a few days, disregarding the concerns of their worried owners. So why do they feel the need to distance themselves from what they know for a few days?

Heat Periods

The first possibility is that another male or female cat in heat is nearby, and it’s the mating season. An unneutered male cat is more likely to disappear for a few days, following its desires and needs to find a mate. The same goes for a female cat that will follow her natural reproductive instincts.

Hunting

The second predominant instinct in felines is hunting. If your cat’s territory doesn’t provide enough satisfaction, your furry companion may wander away from its usual areas to follow its instincts and hunt farther than its boundaries.

Relocation

Cats need familiar surroundings. It takes them some time to establish dominance over other animals in the area and assert their reign over their territory. Relocating causes them to lose all their reference points and “forces” them to start from scratch. If their new territory is already occupied by other felines, they become completely disoriented. They may flee in an attempt to find their old territory, which is more familiar and reassuring.

A Second Home

Cats are loyal and will go wherever they are welcomed. A warm house that offers treats or has a cat tree quickly becomes their second home. However, they can distinguish between primary and secondary caregivers. If your friend disappears for several days, try knocking on your neighbor’s door. Additionally, if your neighbor has an accessible cellar or garage, it’s possible that your cat might be trapped there. So, before panicking, explore the neighborhood and check the garages with cat flaps.

Why Prevent Your Cat from Running Away?

Three-quarters of the reasons are related to natural needs that must be fulfilled. You might be tempted to let your cat live its life. However, if it disappears for a few days, there are risks involved.

Injuries

Whether from fights or other encounters, if your cat runs away, it means it will venture into territories belonging to other animals. There is a high chance that confrontations will occur, and your companion may return home injured. This increases the risk of developing abscesses and other purulent wounds that require veterinary intervention.

Diseases

Is your cat’s vaccination up to date? The risk of disease transmission is higher when it comes into contact with other cats. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), panleukopenia, and other diseases can be easily contracted. If you have a cat that regularly goes outdoors, whether it runs away or not, make sure to vaccinate it properly against contagious diseases. Even if your cat is a homebody, runaway cats can still provoke them, so prevention is better than cure.

Preventing the Disappearance of Your Cat

Reducing Risks

Fortunately, like any other animal, it is possible to minimize the risk of a runaway while ensuring your cat’s well-being.

Neutering

Do not underestimate the distance a cat in heat can cover. Even if you have never seen other felines in the vicinity, your cat can sense them. If you are surrounded by cats, neutering remains the best solution. It will resolve the issue of a sexually driven animal and eliminate its desire to run away. Although it is part of their animal instincts, reproduction will become a distant memory.

Microchipping or Tracking

While it may not prevent your cat from running away, it will make it easier for someone to contact you if they find your cat. With a GPS collar, you can even track its movements and discover all its little habits. You will realize that its territory extends far beyond the usual: food bowl, bed, house, garden, and neighbor.

Gradual Adaptation

As explained, moving to a new place can have a significant impact on a cat’s well-being. Therefore, it is important to reassure and prepare your cat as best as possible.

Do not change its routines: keep the same toys, bowls, and cushions or bed from one house to another. Avoid altering its diet or feeding schedule.

Once in the new living space:

Confine your cat to one room with its belongings (including food and a litter box) and let it get used to its new environment for a day or two.

Then, gradually open up the rest of the house. If you have a ground-floor apartment, don’t forget to put a net on your windows.

After a few weeks, when you see your cat is relaxed, take it for a walk in your garden on a leash. Once it has familiarized itself with its surroundings, let it roam freely. However, inform your neighbors about the presence of a new cat. In case of any problems or disappearances, they can assist you.

In conclusion, there is no radical solution to prevent your companion from running away unless you have an indoor cat that never goes outside (and even then…). However, you can try to find peace of mind by following our advice to offer your cat freedom without worrying.

For more cat-related tips, check out our dedicated section.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”