Cats wander away from their homes for several reasons. The behaviour is most typical of unneutered or unspayed cats. Male cats tend to wander more than females as they explore, patrol and expand their territory. There are methods for preventing your cat from wandering and attempting to draw it back when she does.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Pungent, cat appropriate food
- Pet collar with a bell
- Cat carrier or cardboard box
- Worn item with your scent on it
Have your cat neutered or spayed. Many cats wander because they’re either looking to find another cat in heat, or are in heat themselves. For tomcats, many vets wait until the cat is a year old, although neutering at four months is not uncommon. For female cats, many vets recommend six months, or preferably before the first heat.
Put a collar with a bell on your cat. This is especially effective with male cats, as they tend to wander and get into fights. A bell prevents them from stalking and launching sneak attacks. As such, they are less able to infiltrate territory already controlled by another tomcat. Whether male or female, the collared cat is easier to locate outside.
When a cat wanders, there isn’t much that can be done to bring it home—it must choose to do so of his own volition. There are ways to entice a cat back home. One is to leave a strong smelling food, perhaps tuna, outside for the cat.
Alerting a cat by calling its name and clinking a plate or other object may draw the cat’s attention. This works better in conjunction with food, as the pairing of the sound with the morsel creates a positive association.
Another approach entails leaving a carrier or box outside with a worn garment that has the owner’s scent on it. This reminds the cat of the comfort available at home.
Talk to neighbours and tell them not to feed or play with the cat. An offer of sanctuary away from home may be too good for the cat to resist.
Tips and warnings
- Keeping cats indoors lengthens their lifespan and helps control the pet population.
- Never punish your cat for wandering as this will only increase his desire to do so and may sway the cat not to return next time.
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