Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why do Cats Leave Home

Cats leave their home because something in their home life has changed and they are no longer comfortable.  You can change some things in a cat’s home but you cannot change many things without causing your cat stress and anxiety. 

In February of 2011 a Bombay cat left his home and came to hang out in my yard with the feral cats for 21 days.  He spent most of his time in the winter shelter; an old shed with cat beds and a window heater. The cat had an identification tag on his collar that informed me that his name was Shadow. He was someones cat or maybe he was abandoned there was no way of knowing as there was no contact information.

Shadow outside the shelter with neighborhood cat

I called my neighbors to ask about the Bombay cat with the blue collar and I learned that he lived in the neighborhood in a house that was three blocks away. I also learned that he visited many neighbors for cat food.  My neighbors told me not to worry; Shadow would go home eventually.

Shadow stayed at my cat shelter for five days and on the sixth day he went home  I did not see Shadow for two months and then in April I viewed him walking down the street.  When he arrived at my street corner he stopped, slowly turned and then without hesitation he ran all the way down the hill. When he came to my sidewalk he ran up the sidewalk, past the side porch and when he reached the patio where I stood with my dog, Shadow stopped and approached my dog’s water bowl.  He sat to drink and when he quenched his thirst he came to me and rubbed his body on my legs and then he rubbed on my dog. 

I did not know it at the time but Shadow was living in my yard, sleeping in my shelter and eating from the feral cats food bowl. I thought he was going home at night or during the day, but he wasn't   Shadow hung out in my yard for 42 days and then on the 43rd day the cat owner came to get him.  

The pet owner told me that Shadow was an indoor/outdoor cat.  He was permitted to eat at all of the outdoor food bowls, stay outside for as long as he wanted. The pet owner told me where they lived and suggested that I bring the cat home if he overstayed his welcome.

Here is a poster I created from a photograph of the black cat that came to live in my garden for six months.  

Shadow goes home for a Family Visit:

A child came to get Shadow for a family visit.  Shadow was gone for a few hours and then he left his home again. Before arriving at my home, Shadow the Bombay cat stopped at my friend’s house to eat from her outdoor cat food bowl and then he continuing his journey to my house.   Shadow walked three blocks and crossed two streets to arrive at my home. 

Why do cats leave home?
  1. Some cats will leave home because there is new pet, person, or the household has changed from peaceful to turmoil.  If the cat is no longer comfortable then they will leave their home for long periods of time. 
  2. In Shadow's case it is due to improper socialization of the new cats that were brought into the home.
  3. Other cats wander away from their home and get lost.  If they are found and have no identification then the finder will not be able to contact owner.  Many cats do not intentionally leave their home, they forget how to go home.To visit with other cats.
  4. To eat from another homes outdoor cats bowl.
  5. Unaltered cats will leave home to mate.
  6. To find peace and harmony.
  7. Some cats will leave their home they are suffering from stress and anxiety.
  8. Many cats leave home because they are being neglected or mistreated.
  9. Outdoor cats leave their home unintentionally because they get lost in the neighborhood. 
I learned from the pet owner that Shadows was uncomfortable with the new queen cat that the family  had adopted.  The new cat had kittens and the queen cat was aggressive with Shadow.  He was not welcome in the home or in the yard.  It took only a few cat fights for Shadow to leave his home.  I also learned that the pet owner was remodeling their home.  Cats do not like change and will leave the home if they have access to outdoors.
Shadow chose my yard to be his other home. He lived at my cat shelter and in my lily garden for the entire summer from April to October 23, 2011; he was with me for six months.   In that time he visited his family 4 times.

On October 23, 2011 Shadow went back to his home, his pet owner came to get him because the weather was turning cold.  I never saw Shadow again. 

You can bring the cat home and think that the cat is yours but the truth is the cat chooses the person that they want to be with.

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