How Do I Stop Cat From Wandering Off?

How do I stop cat from wandering off, is a question many cat owners will ask themselves.  It is a fact of nature that cats although domesticated, still retain their wild side and their instincts can never be changed.

Wandering to find new territory, a mate or even some comfort is natural to all cats. Of course we can curtail some of these by neutering our cats, but this will not prevent them seeking a more comfortable or suitable home if they feel that yours is not up to scratch. However there are things you can do to try and make sure that your cat chooses you and your home. 

Question

Hi, I have a problem I have a kitten she is a good 6 to 7 months now. Ii have started to let her out which is fine but now she keeps wandering off and I am scared that I will lose her; she is a bit wild and does not have a care in the world! How do I train her to stay within mine and my neighbor's garden?

Answer

All cats choose to live with us in exchange for food, warmth and home comforts.  A cat is a very intelligent animal and knows when it is on to a good thing. Why would they decide to find a new home if they are getting all the food and comforts with you? You cannot force or train a cat to return home, they will decide that for themselves. So as long as you are giving them a comfortable home, with everything they need, to live in they should always return.

As your kitten is now 7 months old the first thing is to make sure you have her spayed as soon as possible. This will reduce her desire to find a mate, yes at this young age this urge can be strong.

Do neutered cats wander? Well yes but not to the same extent as an un-neutered tom especially. They will always have territory they will patrol but this is likely to be much smaller and they are less likely to disappear for days on end.

Things Which Could Make Your Cat Choose To Find A new Home

  • Change of home circumstances i.e. 

    A new baby in the home - This is often a stressful situation for any cat. Your cat will encounter strange noises, smells, a change of routine and above all less attention from their owners.

  • Routine Changes - 

    Sometimes work commitments can make it difficult for you to be at home at the usual time of feeding etc. Cats like routine and this can cause them to seek out another home where they can get attention and food at regular times.

  • Other Animals - 

    Cats are generally loners and do not like living with lots of other cats / other pets in the home. Siblings can get along fairly well together but if there are more than two other cats in the home, things can get tense and rivalry can cause a cat to decide to find other accommodation

Things You Can Do To Stop Your Cat Wandering

Always try to set up a routine for your cat. Keep feeding times the same for instance. Cats like the security of knowing when food will be available.

If you are unable to be at home during every feeding time, then you could invest in an automatic feeder which can be times to operate at the allotted time.

Always make time for your cat. Make a fuss of them; allow them to spend time with you where you give them lots of attention. An ignored cat will look elsewhere for attention and this could mean someone else's home.

Play time with your cat is also important. New toys designed to stimulate and satisfy their natural instincts will reinforce that this home is fun to be in. It will also make the bond between you both, if they see you as a fun person to be with.

See my page about playing with your cat for some ideas.

Make Your Home Their Home Too

Just as we would for any new child or relative living in your home, make sure you make the home as inviting as possible.

  • Provide your cat with a quite place to eat their food. Somewhere they will feel safe.

  • Feed your cat the best food you can. Not all cat food is created equal and as I am learning their can be big differences in the contents of food. Don't believe the hype on the back of the packet, always read the ingredients and compare it to others. You will be surprised.
  • Make sure your cat has their own place to sleep. Somewhere comfortable and warm and where they feel secure. Cats prefer to sleep off of the ground and there are several cat beds which provide for this need. See my favorites here.

  • Buy new toys several times a year and rotate access to toys so that they don't get bored with them.

  • Above all let your cat be themselves. Not all cats like to be picked up and cuddled. Let them interact with you in their way. Any forcing will only result in them feeling less comfortable in your home.

Above all, enjoy and love your pets, they will love you back.

How To Keep My Cat In My Garden?

This is another common question I am asked. Unfortunately this is less easy to do, if not impossible.

Of course if you have the resources and the space you can enclose your entire garden using over head netting. But this can be expensive. You can also build a large enclosure which allows your cat lots of space to wander but confines them. Again this can be expensive.

You can of course make your garden more appealing to your cat by providing shady places for them to sleep. A fresh water supply and areas to explore, such as dense planting or makeshift tunnels and hiding places.  My cats love to look for bugs and mice under pots and around a rockery.

Make sure your garden is safe too. Read my page about possible dangers in the garden.

Comments for How do i stop cat from wandering off

Returned lost cat - by: Jo 

Hi I am looking for some advice, our cat escaped from the cat box outside the vets in January this year, after lots of heartache a miracle occurred and he was returned to us in august after 6 long months!! My worry is letting him out , we have kept in in for about 10 days now but how long would you re commend we have 2 other cats so there is a strong scent for him to follow ????? Help 

Reply

He ran away from the vets, a place which he was scared of and he did not feel safe at. I would say that he should feel happier at home and that he would want to stay on his own territory. 

Is he micro-chipped? If so then all you can do is let him out and spend some time outside with him the first time. this will help to reinforce the ties to his home. 

I understand your anxiety, I know I was worried the first time I let my cats out. 

best wishes Kate


Wandering cat - by: Anonymous 

I have 2 female cats, both spayed, chipped and have collars with bells and ID tags with name and home phone number. Every time they come home I give them a treat. One of the cats, Sabina,a year old Bengal/Tabby is very good and only plays near by and at the slightest threat comes in. The other cat Rani who is an 18mths old Tabby wanders far and wide. I have had calls from people as far as a mile away telling me they have my cat for me to collect. ?????? What else can I do to keep this adventurer nearer to home. She was rescued by a gardener yesterday after being cornered by a couple of loose dogs, she also ran straight across a busy road. I am so worried she will be hurt or killed. She is always happy to see me when I collect her or when she comes in by herself and seems happy enough but hates being kept in and cries at the door/window to get out. HELP!!! any suggestions will be gratefully accepted. 

Reply

This is a difficult one to answer really. Some cats are simply more of a wanderer than others and thats it. No matter what you do, as far as she is concerned her territory stretches a long way. 

You could try to build a large enclosure in your garden, I believe there are companies that can do this. Its sort of like enclosing your garden so that they have the run of the garden but can't go any further. But of course this wont be cheap. other than that you could speak to your vet, he may recommend some sort of mild sedative to calm her down which may help. But to be honest theres not much else you can do. 

kate


my straying cat - by: julie 

Archie is almost 12 mths old, and for the past 3 mths he has been straying from between 3 and 5 days at a time. He stays with us for 3 or 4 wks, then hes off on his jollys for a few days , which was scary at first as we thought he may have been knocked over like his brother was a few wks ago, but no, he keeps coming back.

Before he goes on his "hoilday" he tends to bring us a mouse or bird first and is very proud of himself,and either eats for England or goes off his food and then strangely disappears.

Hes been neutered but it doesnt stop him!

If anyone know why please tell ????


Cats that wander from homeby: Esther

I live in London. I have two cats - a brother and sister who are now 11 years old. The female, Grace, has recently started straying away from home every time I go away on a vacation. She has managed to get herself locked in somewhere for a number of days and returned hungry and frightened. Other times she stays away 24 hours. This is very worrying as I fear one day she may not return. I can only pray and keep my fingers crossed. Her brother, Harry, rarely leaves the garden and is always around when I return home. 

Grace is a very shy, nervous cat and does not like strangers coming into her home. My lovely neighbour feeds them when I am away so this should not stress her too much. Anyway, I don't suppose I shall ever understand her thinking and can only hope she realised how lucky she is! I love her dearly and dread losing her.

Incarcerated catsby: Anonymous 

I have an across the street neighbor who complained that my spayed female cat is killing her birds (in a cage on a non-screened backyard porch). They are probably finches, but I am not sure. She told me to keep my cat in doors and informed me in a threatening manner that "it is against the city/county law for a cat to run wild". This came to me in the form of a note that was left on my "cat crossing sign" near my driveway. 

I have three cats (two neutered males and one spayed female) and it is true that the female wanders the most and is a huntress. I have asked my immediate neighbors if they are bothered and they assure me that they are not. I have not responded to the note. For one, I think it was cowardly not to speak to me directly. I do feel badly for her and her birds. I also think that it is her responsibility to keep them safe from any animal or rodent. We have opossums and raccoons routinely in our neighborhood and my cat can't possibly be the only one interested! 

Does anyone have a suggestion as to how to keep my female cat from straying? I hate to force the cats to stay indoors. The boys stay in the yard for the most part and don't wander or hunt as much. I may try keeping the girl inside and letting the boys out for awhile. She will probably be depressed. 

I am looking into cat fencing for my backyard. So far I have only read testimonials on the Internet. My vet, the local cat shelter, and animal control do not have any personal experience with the fencing. Animal control says that it is true that all animals are supposed to be kept in the owner's yard if not on a leash. All three cats are indoor/outdoor and have are licensed/vaccinated. 

If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate hearing them. Thanks!

Reply

Unfortunately I live in the UK and we son't have such laws. I must admit to finding it rather amusing that such laws extend to cats, a animal that cannot be stopped from wandering and are no more destructive etc as wild animals such as foxes etc. 

Apart from building a cat enclosure I am afraid I do not what else you can do. I agree with you that it is unfair to keep the cat in (my opinion only) 

Perhaps others who have experienced a similar problem may be able to advise. 

I do agree with you though, it is up to your neighbour to keep her caged birds safe, especially if their are other animals in the area that could equally kill them. 

i wish you luck with this.

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