How do cats go missing?
With all those navigation skills cats somehow still manage to get lost!
How do cats go missing?
Cats are adventurous and often independent creatures who will explore the world on their terms. Still, it does not take long for an owner to get worried if their cat doesn't return within a certain time. Despite their adventurous nature, cats are often fixated on keeping a schedule. They tend to like routines and can get upset if their patterns are disturbed. That is why getting a little worried if your cat does not return for the night is justified. However, their explorative and curious nature makes them prone to situations where they will have to break their patterns. So, when is it okay to start worrying about the wellbeing of your cat if it doesn't return?
To better understand why cats' go amiss, we should part them into two categories—male and female cats. There are distinctive differences in their behavioural patterns, which will logically explain why they are so explorative.
For a starter, there is more common for male cats to go missing, so let's start by explaining them.
How do cats go missing | Male cats – Toms
Male cats will not reach adulthood on a social level before they are 2-3 years old. That is a little later than a female cat. However, before they become adults, Toms are not as likely to disappear because they need to feel safe, which they do when they are close to home.
If your male cat goes missing before it reaches two years old, then you should go out and look for it relatively short after. At this age, they are not the most confident and might have been scared off by something. Keep in mind that a cat this age will probably remain a few hundred meters from home. That will make it easier for you to find it, just make sure you seek it out with an appropriate approach. And remember, if it gets lost, the longer you wait, the further it can go.
How do cats go missing | Adolescent toms
Toms usually have overlapping territories, but they rarely fight to defend their home range. Instead, they accept that other cats exist. However, a young cat trying to establish a territory might still get difficulties if the other cats in the area are dominant beings.
If your adolescent tom feels like he isn't welcome and gets treated harshly as a newcomer, he might try to find a new home range. He will then venture 2-3km from home to look for a new and more friendly neighbourhood.
Read more: How to find a missing cat.
Read more: Cat-tracker – Tap in on your cats' secrets.
How do cats go missing | Adult Toms have a vast home range
When your cat reaches adultness, it will establish a home range reaching around 2-3km from home. That is a massive area for a little cat, but it is necessary to find a female. If you live in an area with few people and cats, then naturally, it will have to explore a greater surface to reproduce. However, if there are many cats around, then it might choose a lesser home range.
Although, they might fight if they feel like they have to defend themselves against each other, or if there is an ovulating female cat nearby. Most often, male cats only fight to compete about females.
A well-established male cat should be able to find the way home from anywhere in its territory, and if it doesn't come home for the night, there usually isn't a need to worry. Leave a window or the balcony door open so it can enter the house while you are asleep. If it comes home to a closed door, it might wander off again.
However, if a couple of nights goes by then, you should consider looking for it. But don't dread the situation, as they have a fantastic ability to show up after a few days of adventuring.
Read more: How to find a missing cat.
Read more: How do cats navigate outside their territory?
Reasons both male and female cats go missing
Felines are curious by nature and will explore anything they find remotely interesting. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to them getting stuck somewhere, like in an abandoned pool or building. If the cat has fallen into a pool that it can't get up from it might drown unless it gets help.
They will both travel reasonable distances to hunt.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons cats' disappear is because something has happened to them, and they are unable to get back. This can happen when they attempt to cross a trafficked road, as the impact from a car tends to have a flattening effect on most cats.
There are cat-trackers out there that will notify you if the tracker senses a sudden impact. If your cat is hurt, you could potentially save it if you can go to the tracker's location and bring the cat to the vet before it is too late.
Cats are prone to prey animals like foxes, badgers, prey birds and even psychopaths. These causes of death are not as common as cats are good at hiding and escaping, but it does happen.
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Do castrated male cats stay closer to home?
Castrated toms tend to adapt to behaviour more similar to a female cat. For example, they will not feel the need to venture 3km from home to find a female, as they have a lesser testosterone level and no testicles to reproduce with.
Castrated cats, therefore, tend to become more territorial towards their reduced home range and will more often pick fights with neighbouring cats. If they lose, they might have to find a new territory.
Female housecats don't have to work as hard as males to reproduce, as the males seek them out. They, therefore, stay closer to home and possess a much smaller territory, approximately 3-500 square metres.
Females can create bonds with their neighbouring female cats and younger male kittens. They rarely fight unless there is a territorial dispute. Though, they might fight with an adolescent male when they decide he is too old to hang with the ladies.
Rarely gets lost
Females disappear less often than males as they have more stability and security with their small home range. It is an advantage to stay close to where they get fed if they have kittens. And if they are to have kittens, they need an already established territory.
The most common way for females to disappear is death by a car, getting hurt elsewhere, and becoming unable to walk.
Read more: Cat-tracker – get in on your cats' secrets.
Read more: How to find a missing cat
Read more: Pros and cons of castrating your cat