by Amber Drake

Understanding Your Cat’s Roaming Behavior

Understanding Your Cat’s Roaming Behavior

Although we may not like it, at times, our cat’s curiosity can lead them to roam and wander. But, as you likely already know, all cats are different. Some may feel comfortable wandering quite the distance, while others are content lounging on the porch soaking up the sun’s rays all day. 

The key question here is: What’s normal and what isn’t? And why would any of our beloved pets want to travel outside of their own home and backyard? 

Why Do Cats Roam?

Roaming is a completely normal behavior for our feline friends. And it’s not because they don’t love you to pieces. It’s part of their personality and even their biology. 

Here’s a few reasons why domestic cats roam. 

1) Finding Hiding Places for Safety

Cats are curious creatures and when you’re curious to that extent, you tend to wander where your mind takes you. Their curiosity also leads them to hiding places for safety if they need it, and where other cats have marked it as their territory. 

2) Hormones and Intact Cats

Those hormones in kitties who aren’t spayed or neutered can also be a driving factor in their roaming behavior. Male cats might wander fairly far from their home when they’re searching for a mate. Plus, here’s an interesting tidbit: Your female cat can get pregnant as young as 4 months old. 

3) Hunting Down the Critters

Hunting is instinctive to cats, but some take it to a whole new level. It’s not about how much they have to eat in the house. If your cat is an active hunter, they might roam until they find prey to bring home to eat or perhaps leave on your porch stairs as a gift. 

4) Stress Can Be a Contributor

Like us, our cats can get stressed. Unlike us, they don’t always show it in the same way. There might even be stress you’re not thinking about like not feeling up to par, a new pet, or a new human addition in the household. 

How Far Will Cats Roam?

There isn’t really an exact answer to this question. It’s all about your individual cat, but we can give you a generalized answer. 

For cats that roam outside of their immediate territory, they often stay between 75 yards to nearly a mile, depending on their gender. Males tend to wander significantly farther than females and tend to be at the far end of the spectrum, but females like to stick around a bit closer in most cases.

Spaying and Neutering Can Help

Spaying or neutering your cat may help them stay closer to home. Once their reproductive instincts and hormones are not contributing to their behavior, you may notice them sticking closer to home. 

For younger cats, not wanting to find a mate can really make an impact on how much they wander. Without the hormone-driven need to find a mate, they don't have a big reason to go far from home. So, they tend to stick around their house where they feel safe. This doesn't mean they stop being curious or exploring around, but they usually don't go as far and aren't gone for too long.

Grab Some ID Tags

ID tags can help out tremendously, but first let’s talk about a collar. Be sure to grab the collars that will snap off if they get stuck on something. Our cats might go to some sketchy places and if they get caught on something with a dog-like collar, they will be stuck right where they are. 

Once you have a cat-specific collar, you can go grab some identification tags. Put your name, address (if possible), and phone number on the tags. 

Microchip Your Kitty 

Even if your kitty has a collar with their ID tags, it’s a wise idea to get them microchipped. That way, even if your cat’s collar catches on something and comes off, they can still be identified. 

Microchipping your cat offers an extra layer of security, acting as a permanent form of identification that can't be lost or removed. This tiny chip, implanted under your cat's skin, can be scanned by veterinarians or animal shelters, making it much easier to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Consider a ‘Catio’

If you’re worried about your kitty wandering off too far or have had a scare already with them going missing, or even if you just plain out want one, consider creating a catio for your feline family member. A catio is a special outdoor space that's safe and enclosed, so your cat can enjoy the fresh air, watch birds, and bask in the sun, all without the risks of roaming freely. 

A catio is like a little outdoor paradise just for them, where they can satisfy their curiosity and instincts in a safe space. You can check out super cool ideas on Pinterest. There’s so many creative ways to build a cat haven based on how much space you have.

Add Probiotics

Incorporating probiotics, like those found in Daily Cat, into your cat's routine is another measure you can take to reduce roaming behavior in your cat. Probiotics, i.e. beneficial bacteria that support the digestive system, can play a significant role in enhancing a cat's gut health, which could possibly help boost their mood and potentially reduce their stress level. 

Roaming or Staying Indoors

Cats naturally love to wander and explore, and they do this for many different reasons. It's just part of how they are wired. While we can try some things to keep them from wandering off too far from home, it's really hard to stop them from wanting to go outside and explore altogether. The best way to let them enjoy the outdoors safely, without the worry of them going too far, is by taking the above steps to protect them.

Read More: 

Spatial Behavior of Domestic Cats

'Cat Tracker' Study Reveals the Secret Wanderings of 900 House Cats

The Social Lives of Free-Ranging Cats 

Comparative Analysis of the Domestic Cat Genome 

The Impact of Anthropogenic Factors on Free-Roaming Cat Populations

Cortisol Levels and Aggression in Neutered and Intact Free-Roaming Female Cats Living in Urban Social Groups

Photo by Josue Aguazia on Unsplash

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