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How Do Cats Find Their Way Home?

How Do Cats Find Their Way Home?

Your cat has been lost for more than a few days and you’re sick with worry. You’ve tried all the things you know you should do to find a lost cat—you’ve searched the neighborhood, posted flyers, and reported your lost pet to local shelters—to no avail. Is there any hope that your lost pet can find his way back to you? Can indoor cats find their way home? You’ll be comforted to know that there have been remarkable cases of cats returning home on their own after weeks or even months of being lost. It’s certainly a possibility that you shouldn’t dismiss entirely.


How Do Cats Find Their Way Home?

In 2013, the story of a cat who travelled back home after having been lost, 200 miles away made quite a sensation. The cat was carrying a microchip and gotten lost when the family went on a trip two months earlier. The case was widely publicized and considered as one of the greatest known feats of lost animals finding their way back home. This cat’s journey once again raised important questions about the magnificent homing abilities of animals.


Here are some interesting facts about lost pets


It’s also been known to happen to the dogs. Such cases are rare though, and animal behaviorists have yet to find a definitive answer as to how exactly this cat, or any other cat for that matter, can find their way back home and how far can cats find their way home. However, cats do possess:

·        A strong sense of smell

·        Acute hearing

·        Precise, even in the dark

There’s yet to be substantive evidence as to how cats navigate. But a few studies conducted over the last few decades present some viable theories as to how felines are able to return to familiar territory after being displaced. So exactly how do cats find their way back home?  One such theory suggests that cats’ path-finding abilities are guided by their olfactory senses, in the same way, that dogs use their keen sense of smell to find their way home. It often happens that lost cats are found in an old address after a family has moved, strongly suggesting that cat, do possess some sort of internal homing instinct.

How do cats find their way home over long distances? Cats have up to 80 million scent receptors in their noses compared to about five million receptors in the human nose. Their sense of smell is extremely sensitive and they may be able to detect their way home through scent markers. When cats rub against surfaces, or urinate in a particular spot, it’s their way of marking their territory. They leave their own familiar scent either by spraying urine or bunting scent glands that are found under their chins.

When a cat is displaced into an unfamiliar territory, it will follow its sense of smell in search of familiar scent markers left behind by other cats or by himself. A cat’s nose can pick up clues and determine territorial boundaries as he searches for his own territory.

How does a cat find its way home? Another popular theory on cat navigation involves the earth’s magnetic fields, which cats may be able to detect with the help of iron concentrated on their ears.  Other animals like deer, have shown the ability to determine north from south, guided by magnetic fields. It’s certainly possible that cats navigate their way using the same process.

Can cats find their way home if lost? There have been several stories that suggest that cats know how to find their way home. There isn’t enough evidence to show that all cats can do it. Cats that have lived indoors most of their lives may have their homing abilities less honed, compared to cats that go out on a regular basis. And even if your cat knows how to find his way back home, the outdoors present many dangers that can easily prevent him from doing so. These include the threat of road accidents, aggressive animals in the wild, and people who may want to do him harm.

If you can’t stand the thought of your cat being out there on his own, there are some things you can do to keep him from running away or at the very least, make your cat never want to leave home:

1.   Have your cat microchipped.

It would definitely a lot easier to find a lost cat with a microchip. Although a microchip doesn’t work like a GPS, it effectively helps vets, animal shelters, or whoever finds your cat to identify him and return him back to you.  Make sure that you complete the microchip registration with your updated address and contact details.

2.   Keep him busy.

Sometimes, cats try to escape because of anxiety or boredom. Make sure your cat gets plenty of exercises or introducing puzzle, toys to keep him from venturing outside and stay happily busy at home. Know how to read signs of anxiety in your cat and what else you can do to treat it. Neutering your cat may also be worth considering, to prevent him from going out to find a mate.

3.   Build a safe, contained space for your cat.

If you notice that your cat has a particular fondness for the outdoors, it just might be next to impossible to keep him locked inside. A lot of cat owners have found that building an outdoor enclosure for cats brings the advantage of tempering their cat’s curiosity while keeping them safely in the yard.


Can cats find their way home from miles away? Some of them can and there are cats that have managed to. Cats’ senses are stronger than we can imagine and some animal behaviorists believe that highly territorial felines have remarkable homing instincts. If your cat is lost, you should definitely not stop at anything to find him. Report your lost cat immediately to PawMaw.com, get all the help you can get, and take all steps necessary to get him back. Your cat is out there waiting to be rescued, or possibly, working very hard to find his way back to you.


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