Why Does My Cat Run From Home? [8 Reasons & How To Fix It]

If your cat is always trying to make a run for it, you’re not alone. Some kitties will just disappear and then get back home as if nothing happened.

Whether your companion disappears for a couple of hours or days, this situation can send you into a tailspin of emotions and sorrow. Unfortunately, you can’t just scold your furball and hope that they won’t run away again. What you should do instead is figure out why they’re always escaping.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the most common reasons why your cat is running away from you.

The main points we’ll cover in this article are:

Reasons Why Cats Run From Home

  • Sense of territory
  • Hunting
  • Changes in environment: new pets, arrival of a baby, relocation
  • Dual ownership
  • Distractions
  • Mating
  • Look for a more comfortable home
  • Injuries, illness or death

Tips To Find Your Missing Cat

  • Search their last known location
  • Look for them at night
  • Use their power of scent
  • Set out food and water

How To Stop Your Cat From Escaping

  • Make the escape path unpleasant
  • Spay or neuter your cat
  • Keep them in one room after relocating
  • Protect them by adding a microchip

Why Does My Cat Run From Me?

Protect their territory

Cats are some of the most territorial creatures. In fact, they’re more protective of their territory than dogs.

Important to note is that your cat’s territory is not limited to your home backyard or balcony. At times, they could be in charge of the entire street or your neighbor’s garden as well.

If your cat starts feeling threatened by other cats in their territory, they might not want to stay in that area any longer. Thus, they’ll escape to try and find a more peaceful and quiet home.

But it’s not just cats; if your cat feels threatened by you, he or she might bolt. It’s best to be slow and careful when approaching your cat. Let him or her come to you.

Hunting

As much as we’d like to view our kitties as innocent creatures, they’re wild felines at heart. The only difference is that they’re domesticated. But for some cat breeds, the hunting instinct is more apparent than in others.

Cute russian blue cat running in natureCute russian blue cat running in nature

This means that even if you provide them with all basic necessities, they’ll want to go outdoors and hunt smaller prey. In the event that they don’t find what they’re looking for in your neighborhood, they’re likely venture out further away.

Relocation

Some cats are very sensitive to changes. Like dogs, these are creatures of habit so they thrive on normalcy and consistency. So if you move to a new place, your kitty might not like their new environment. By running away from you, they’re trying to tell you that they don’t appreciate that change.

To avoid this, you should look for ways to help ease your cat into their new surroundings. Accompany your cat outside, try to play with him or her, and help your cat to get used to the new environment.

Ownership

Does your cat run away every day for just a few hours? If so, the most likely scenario is that they have more than one owner. Perhaps they’ve been going to their second home to get some treats.

It’s not unusual for felines to pick a second house in the neighborhood as ‘backup’. This way, they have people to take care of them when you leave them alone at home.

Distractions

If they’re not receiving enough stimulation at home, cats may start chasing insects and other small-sized animals outside. This means that they can get distracted very easily if they see  prey outdoors.

If your cat is always running away during summer, this is the most likely reason. Unfortunately, they may chase their prey to extreme lengths, causing them to disappear for hours.

Mating

Unneutered felines may run away in search of the ideal mates. Neutering is a routine procedure that entails removing your kitty’s sexual reproduction organs. With female cats, this is referred to as ‘spaying’.

In some areas, it’s mandatory to have your cat neutered. But even if you’re not required to do so by the law, you should consider this operation. Not only does it minimize their chances of running away but it also reduces the risk of feline diseases.

New family members

Whether you’ve adopted or just had a new baby, this could trigger your kitty’s escape instinct. The reason for this is that they feel threatened by the new family member.

So if the neighbor on the opposite side of the street is a senior citizen who doesn’t have any kids or pets, your cat may choose them as their new owners. Here, they’ll be fed, sheltered and given exclusive attention.

New pets

As in the case of a new baby, bringing a new pet into your home can cause your cat to run away. As mentioned earlier, felines can be very protective of their surroundings. If they feel like the other pet is challenging their leadership, they may search for a new home where they’ll be the only pets.

You can prevent this by ensuring you monitor them closely once you bring another pet. On the same note, ensure that both pets have adequate resources so that they don’t start fighting for the limited resources. If you’re adopting a new cat, then add another litter box, cat tree, food bowl and cage.

Comfort

If your feline no longer feels comfortable at your home, they’ll seek a new shelter. Perhaps you’ve brought a baby home and they’re always crying. Or maybe your renovation project is taking longer than expected and your cat can’t tolerate the loud noises any more. This and other factors can cause your kitty to feel uncomfortable, forcing them to look for a new residence.

Injuries

There are instances where a cat will go out to hunt and sustain injuries. They may also have been fighting with dogs or other cats when they got injured. Either way, perhaps they were found by a Good Samaritan who decided to nurse and take care of them.

Red cat running down the street

In such an instance, your cat might not return home until they’re strong enough to start walking and running again.

Potential death

Death is an unpleasant fact of life, but one that we’re all go through including your furball. Cats have this ability to detect when they’re about to die. If they suspect that they’re approaching that point, they’ll run away and die in solitary.

The easiest way to prevent this is to assess your cat’s health condition. If they’re already in their golden years or have lived longer than most cats in their breed category, keep a close eye on them. The same applies to cats that fall ill. For some reason, felines prefer isolation when they’re sick.

Tips to Find Your Missing Cat

Search at their last known location

Usually, felines don’t wander that far off, especially if they went out to hunt for smaller animals. This is particularly the case if your feline is an indoor cat. Thus, you should focus all your efforts searching in places that are near your home.

In fact, you should start by inspecting every nook and cranny of your home. This entails your closets, HVAC ducts, attic, and crawl spaces. Next, look for your kitty in your neighbor’s yard, bushes, garden, deck, and in the crawl spaces under their houses.

Your cat may also decide to escape to the nearby sheds, garages and abandoned buildings. During your search, keep in mind that your kitty may be trapped in a spot in any of these areas. So be sure to inspect these places thoroughly.

Look for them at night

If your cat ran away because they were feeling scared, shy or threatened, they might decide to reveal themselves when all is calm and quiet. This could be early at dawn or late in the night.

This means that the ideal time to search for them is during these periods.You can go out and look for them using a flashlight. Also, carry their favorite cat food in cans.

When you get to the specific spot where you want to look for them, shake the treat jar and call out their names. Be sure to use a calm and assuring tone. A frantic tone is only going to scare them away.

Use the power of scent

Quick fact: cats have about 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavities. This explains why they have a better sense of smell than humans and most other animals. In fact, we humans only have 5 million scent receptors.

A feline’s sense of smell is one of the key factors that helps them to survive. It guides them to prey, enables them to detect predators, determine whether food is toxic and even find a mating partner.

On your part, this means you can use this ability to your advantage by using it to lure them back. Try putting their bedding, nice-smelling treats or toys in your backyard. If they wandered off and got lost, they’ll be able to find their way back.

If this doesn’t work, you can also lure them using their litter. Yes, I know this sounds gross. But look at this way: your kitty litter has a pretty strong scent so it will go a long way in attracting your cat.

Set out food and water

Ultimately, your kitty will need to look for food and water to survive. If they can’t get any of the resources in the places they ran away to, they’re likely to come back home. So you might want to set out two separate bowls with food and water,and place them in your backyard.

Consider luring them with foods that have strong smell. Think of tuna, sardines or any other cat food with a pungent aroma.

person feeding cat

It’s also advisable to install a surveillance camera that gets a good view of the food bowls. This way, you can view the footage later on and see if your kitty dropped by. If they did, this is a good indication that they’re hiding in a place close to your home.

What You Can Do To Stop Your Cat From Running Away

Make the escape path unpleasant

If your cat has a tendency of running away, you’ve probably noticed their escape routine and route. You can prevent them from escaping with a couple of basic training tips.

Whenever you notice your cat roaming around the doorway, use a distraction to deter them from going out. You can yell out a loud “sst!” or clap your hands.

If it doesn’t work, you can resort to extreme measures like using a long-distance spray bottle or squirt gun. They’ll quickly learn that the sight of a spray bottle or squirt gun is a mechanism of dissuading them from escaping.

Alternatively, you can place sheets of aluminum foil across the entryway. Most cats hate the sound of walking over aluminum so they’ll be deterred to run away.

Spay or neuter your cat

If the reason why your feline keeps running away is to find a mating partner, consider taking them through spaying or neutering. Although this won’t completely alleviate your kitty’s desire to escape, unaltered felines escape more often than those that are spayed or neutered.

Protect your cat

If your cat is still trying to run away despite all your efforts, the next best option is to take measures to enhance their safety. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Have your cat wear a collar and tag that includes your address. If you can, you should incorporate a microchip on the tag. This will show you the exact location of your feline at all times
  • Don’t leave the door open. If you usually lock them in a cage, then ensure you lock the door of the room where you set up this cage.
  • Ensure your cat receives all required vaccinations and provide anti-flea and heartworm medications on a regular basis

Keep your cat in one room

When you move to a new home, set up a cozy room for your feline. Keep them here for the first couple of weeks or so. Remember to put a sign on the door that tells guests and other family members not to open it.

Final Verdict

There are several reasons why your kitty is running away from you. These include: to protect their territory, chase after small animals, seek comfort, illness or death, look for mating partners and if they’re living a double life.

To prevent this behavior, consider putting sheets of aluminum foil on the entryway or distracting them. It’s also vital that you buy your cat a collar and microchipped tag that shows their location at all times.

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