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.


Angelgirlpj said...

I loved the post. It was very informative. I am not known as a big cat lover but I have had some come across my life at one time or another.

AJ Tyne said...

There are so many levels of feelings that crossed over me as I read this. I will have to think about it a bit. I wish you could just keep Shadow. I hate it when people don't fully want an animal and also won't let it fully go.

Nancycarol said...

I agree with AJ's post...if they don't want to do what is right for the cat, they should let it go, not keep hanging on to it. I think their "love" is only given when they feel like it, otherwise they ignore any other signs that the cat is not happy with the home situation.

Sgolis said...

I think the owners are overwhelmed with the two queen cats that they took in that had kittens. Shadow's owners like the thought of him and they love him but they have too much going on right now and Shadow does not get along with the new cats. He is older and wants peace and quiet and my yard provides that for him. They should let him go, sign him over to someone who will keep him indoors and give him a good life. He needs tender loving care and Shadow deserves to be the cat of the house.

catloveruk said...

we also have a cat that started visiting us at my workplace, he looks in good condition but seems very hungry, he now wont go away and spends his time sleeping and lounging about here, if we shut him out he sleeps on a chair outside until the door is open again, we do not want to turn him away but there must be a reason that he wants to be here rather than his home?

Nancycarol said...

Susan, do you think Shadow was given away? Or that he managed to get along with the other cats? It seems odd to me that you've never seen him again. Yes, I followed this story and I hope the dear boy is okay and is in a peaceful loving home.

Sgolis said...

In the note that I gave the eldest daughter I indicated the type of products I recommended, the food I fed him and the litter that I trained him to use. I suggested that if the two cats did not get along that they seperate them by putting one cat in the finished basement and the other upstairs and then flip them so each has time with family. In closing on the note I stated that I loved Shadow and that if they wanted to surrender him to me I would provide a happy and healthy home for him. Since they took him on Sunday 10/23/11 I have not seen him and my friend lives across from the home where Shadow resides and she has not seen him. I am worried of course, but I did my best to care for him and to provide him with a happy cat life. I do not know what else that I can do. Nancy I hope that he is okay and that he is not being beat up daily by the aggressive queen cat.

thegreatme said...

This story breaks my heart because I have a similar situation going on on at my end.
One cat, call it Mimi. She comes everyday, without fail, in any weather conditions, since last August. I learn that the owner lives just around the corner from our place (abt 200meters) and has another cat.The owner is very unfriendly and once yelled in a very rude manner to the daughter of my girlfriend who wanted give Mimi a light pet. It was really shocking to see that woman's rude reaction. She could have told us nicely not to touch her cat.
Mimi doesn't want to leave our house now. I have to force her out using my toy water gun because she starts looking for food and I want her to go home to eat. Mimi is a really wonderful cat. She is easily trained, smart, very loving and playful. I wish I could adopt her, but knowing how mean that old witch is, I don't want to cause any discomfort to anyone. I just hope Mimi is being treated well.
It bothers me why Mimi wants to stay with us and not her owner. Sometimes Mimi stays in our garden till late night waiting for us to open our door. I have to keep my heart strong not to let her in. I want her to go home. I did everything I could to make her understand that we are not her owner, like sprinkle her with a bit of water, not giving her and food, scare her with silly noises...but she keeps coming back. In the end I have to admit that I am falling in love with this sweet creature. I am hoping for the best for us. By the way...any tips?

S Golis said...

thegreatme: I am the type of person that loves cats, and if a cat comes to my yard I will offer that cat a bite to eat and a bowl of water. I do not know if the cat has come a great distance, all I know is that it picked my yard to visit. If the cat wants to be petted I will pet the cat. I will not spray it with water. I once had a cat that left me for the lady down the street. My cat liked her female cat and I guess the cat food. I was working and did not pay the cat a lot of attention, I may have owned the cat, but the cat did not choose me. My advise is to love all cats that cross your path. If they are meant to go home, then like Shadow they will be taken home.