It’s true that we don’t want to keep our pets confined to a place. After all, they also have the right to explore the world and see new places. That’s why most pet owners keep an outdoor cat, which stays outside the house most of the day but comes back for meals and sleeping.
However, owners constantly fear that their cat might run away. So, how to keep an outdoor cat from running away? Micro-chipping the cat and spaying/neutering is the best option. You can also set a fixed spot for its meals and keep a cat house near to provide a safe shelter. Making it familiar with the surroundings and bringing a new cat home are also some options.
Now, let’s talk more about outdoor cats running away and how you can prevent it.
Do Outdoor Cats Stay Close To Home?
Outdoor cats familiar with their home will generally stay close to it as they know wandering too far can make them lost, and they won’t be able to find a way back home.
A few surveys have also indicated that outdoor cats usually stay close to their home even when they go outside to roam and see the surrounding environment.
However, all outdoor cats don’t stay close to home. It depends on how familiar the cat is with the place. If the cat doesn’t want to get lost and never finds a way back home, it will definitely stay close to the house and keep track of the way.
But, there are still chances of outdoors cats running away for certain reasons or getting lost as they move away from home.
Why Do Outdoor Cats Run Away?
Outdoor cats will make several attempts to escape or run away, and when it comes to the reasons, we find many. So, let’s discuss all the reasons why outdoor cats run away.
Mating is perhaps the most obvious and common reason for outdoor cats running away, even if they have a strong bond with your house and family.
Upon reaching puberty, cats urge to mate with their partners, and for this, they can do whatever possible, even if it’s leaving the house and running away.
If your outdoor cat suddenly runs away and doesn’t come back for many days, it may be because it has reached puberty and wants to mate now.
Cats have a strong sense of smell and can easily locate a partner or a female cat on heat. If they don’t find any in your area, they will move further away.
We cannot deny the fact that cats have hunting instincts, and even domesticated cats show these instincts by hunting prey and bringing it as a gift to you.
If your outdoor cat often hunts and brings the prey at the door, the behavior might seem normal. But, it can make your cat run away.
If the outdoor cat was recently hunting in your area and cannot find any prey now, it will definitely go far from the house out of curiosity or run away to hunt.
Stress or Fear
Cats usually tend to hide or run away from situations that make them frightened or stressed.
If you recently moved to a new location or introduced a new pet in the house, your outdoor cat may not like this change and become stressed. To seek shelter and get a sense of security and comfort, it will run away from the house.
A pregnant cat will generally prefer to stay alone or demand extra attention, depending on the cat’s nature.
However, cats usually try to find a safe location, away from predators, to deliver their babies. If you know your outdoor cat is pregnant, you can arrange a safe place for it inside the house. Otherwise, it will run away trying to find one and may come back after delivering the babies.
Bonding With The Neighbors
Some surveys suggest that cats like to visit their neighbors. If you moved to a new place or the neighbors don’t know the cat is yours, they may try to bond with it.
In such cases, the cat will often go to the neighbors and get treats and food from them. This behavior from the neighbors may also convince your cat to spend more time in their house instead of yours.
Some cats naturally will prefer to spend their time outside exploring their surroundings. They are curious animals and will want to know what is out there besides your house and the territory next to it.
If your cat does that, don’t worry. They have an excellent sense of smell that will help them find their way back home.
How To Keep An Outdoor Cat From Running Away?
Here are all the methods you can follow to keep your outdoor cat from running away.
1. Make It Familiar With The Surroundings
Some cats will feel stressed out in a new place and may try to run away out of fear. If that’s the case with your cat, a better idea is to make it familiar with the surroundings.
You can also keep it inside the house for a few days and take it out often. In this way, it will not feel afraid and stay near the house.
Another alternative is to take your cat out on a walk with a harness. You need to do that just a few times to get your cat acquainted with the surroundings.
2. Get It Microchipped
Microchipping your cat is an excellent way of finding it if it runs away, and you won’t have to bear the grief of losing your feline.
While this step will not stop the cat from running away from the house, it will definitely help you track it whenever the cat gets lost, and you can bring it back by tracing it.
3. Get a Bright Collar with your Contact Info
Even though this won’t keep your cat from running away, we still decided to include this tip in this article because it will keep your cat safe even if it wanders off too far.
Make sure to get a bright reflective collar if you know your cat has a tendency to roam too far. This way the car drivers will be able to see it better if your cat comes close to the road.
Another thing to do is to get your cat a nametag and mention your phone number on it in case somebody finds your cat and will be able to return it to you easily.
4. Get Another Cat
As cats often try to run away when bored, you can get another cat to play with them. Both of them will spend time together and play near the house.
However, you need to make sure that both the cats bond well and stay friends. In some cases, one cat tries to show dominance and scares the other. If that happens, your cat might try to run away to seek shelter at another place.
5. Talk To Your Neighbors
If you see your cat visiting the neighbors often and getting food from there, it’s time to talk to your neighbors. If they don’t know the cat is yours, you can politely inform them and tell them not to give food to the cat.
In this way, your outdoor cat will only get affection from you and won’t run away to anyone else.
You can find more helpful tips on how to make moving houses less stressful for your cat in our other article.
While you can keep your outdoor cat close to home by following the tips mentioned above, here are a few additional tips!
6. Follow A Fixed Feeding Schedule
Following a fixed feeding schedule will help you keep your outdoor cat close to home. When you give food to your cat at fixed hours of the day, it will definitely come back home to eat.
Although the cat will enjoy hunting all day, it will still like to have breakfast or supper at your house, which will keep it coming back.
Even if the cat stays outside the whole day, you will see it coming home for food.
7. Provide It With Shelter
Cats like to have their own space where they can rest and feel secure when frightened. So, placing a cat house close to home can be the best idea.
Your cat will come inside the shelter in harsh weather conditions and feel secure and comfortable. Most cats will also roam outside during the day and come to sleep in the cat house at night.
Another idea is to place the cat house near the place you give it food to keep the house in the cat’s sight.
In winters, you can provide a comfortable and cozy blanket to your cat.
8. Build a Catio
Catios are so much fun for your cat to be in, so there is a high chance it will give up the idea of roaming too far because it has so much to play with inside your house.
There are a lot of cool DIY catio ideas to you can have a fully customized catio for your cat, or you can just buy it online if you are not into building stuff.
Either way, it will be great entertainment for your cat, and it is still considered as being outside, so we will kill 2 birds with one stone: keep your outdoor-loving cat close to home and give it a chance o still enjoy the fresh air.
9. Build A Fence
If you want to keep your cat within your premises, you can build a fence and let the cat know that it isn’t allowed to cross it.
But, you cannot always build a fence if you want your cat to roam nearby while staying close to home.
In such a case, you can use some kind of barrier to inform your cat that it isn’t allowed to cross it. If you see your cat following a route to go far, you can spray a deterrent spray, like vinegar, to prevent the cat from going there.
10. Spay/Neuter It
Most cats usually try to run away from the house in search of a mate. So, spaying or neutering the cat is the best thing you can do. It will not only prevent your cat from running away but will also save it from many diseases.
As the cat won’t be able to mate, it will also not become pregnant and leave home to give birth.
While owners love to see their outdoor cats coming home often during the day, the fear of the cat running away always circulates in their minds.
As cats like to stay with their owners, they will never run away without any reason.
So, you can make your cat familiar with the surroundings and shower love on it to prevent it from running away. However, our guide also mentions other tips you can follow to keep your outdoor cat close to home.
You can follow these relatively easy steps and always keep your outdoor cat with you!
My name is Katie, and I have had different pets at home for as long as I can remember. While I can definitely say I love all animals in general, my heart belongs to cats and dogs. I know you are supposed to choose one or the other, but I could never really decide. I’ve also owned hamsters and fish when I was a kid, and they filled my childhood with very delightful memories.