Why do Cats go Missing for Days at a Time?

Cats are known for being very independent pets so many cat owners are happy to allow them to roam their neighbourhood freely.

Most owners will find that their cat comes back every night and does this quite happily all their life without ever going missing or disappearing for more than a few hours. However, if a cat has wandered too far, has had a fright or has simply lost track of their surroundings they may not come home for a couple of days.

missing cat
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Do Cats Always Come Back?

Unfortunately, it is not true that cats will always come back home. While most do there are some situations where cats don’t come back. Cats follow their natural instincts and this means they will spend their time outside hunting, protecting their territory, and looking for a mate.

If your cat doesn’t come home for a few days this can be concerning for any cat owner, particularly as most domestic cats have lost their ability to successfully fend for themselves for any considerable length of time as their feral ancestors would have.

Tens of thousands of cats go missing every year, in fact there are 6.5 million lost cats in Europe at any one time and it is calculated that 25% of them will never be reunited with their owners.

That’s more than 1.6 million lost cats who will not be seen again by their human families!

lost cat poster

There are plenty of reasons why your cat may go missing, cats are incredibly curious creatures and their curiosity can cause all sorts of problems which may result in them going missing for days at a time.

If you have recently lost your cat and are looking for tips on how to find him or her then read our article on how to find a lost cat.

Un-neutered and Un-spayed Cats Often Go Missing

For male tom cats that haven’t been neutered one of the most common reasons why they may disappear for several days (or even weeks sometimes) is they have caught the scent of a female cat in heat.

When this happens male cats will travel miles to act on their animal instincts. If they find that the female cat is locked inside then they will simply wait until they get their chance to see her, so it could be as long as a week before your cat returns home to you.

It is often presumed that female cats will not go looking for male cats even if they have not been spayed, however, this is not true.

While it is not as common for them to travel so far and wide looking for a mate, un-spayed female cats may get frustrated and will go in search of a tom-cat if given the opportunity.

One easy way to prevent this from happening is to make sure you get your cats either neutered or spayed as soon as possible, this also helps prevent the growth of the feral cat population too.

Getting your cat neutered or spayed doesn’t mean they won’t wander off chasing a bird or mouse or some other thing of interest they may have spotted but they are unlikely to travel anywhere near the kind of distances that the desire to mate would motivate them to travel!

Why Do Neutered Male Cats Go Missing?

Neutered cats may still leave home in search of a mate, they may also be out hunting or defending their territory. Even when neutered, male cats will still follow their curiosity which may result in them spending a couple of days away from home.

How Long Do Male Cats Stay Away From Home?

It is not unusual for male cats to be away from home for 1 – 10 days with the majority of male cats returning home after around 3 days. If you’re worried your male cat is lost, search for them around the local neighbourhood as cats tend to stay close to home.

Distracted Cats may Disappear

Cats are more likely to go missing during the summer months when the weather is great and they feel inclined to spend more time outdoors chasing insects and small animals.

Cats are famous for their lightning reflexes and when startled they will often leap into the air and then run from the scene.

If your cat is caught unawares and frantically runs to a place it is unfamiliar with, this may cause them to go missing for some time, particularly if they find themselves stuck behind a busy road or crossing.

Most cats will eventually find their way back home after an incident like this but it may take them until nightfall, when traffic and noise have died down, to summon up the courage to retrace their steps.

While you can’t really prevent this kind of behaviour without keeping your cat permanently locked in your home it may be worth considering using a cat tracker so that you can keep an eye on where your cat has gone on its adventures.

Did you know? In some cases disappearing for days at a time (combined with other symptoms) could indicate that your cat has ADHD.

Your Cat May Go Missing if it Finds a More Favourable Environment

Cats are particularly sensitive to change in their home environment so they may decide to move on if they find a more favourable place that caters for their needs.

For example, if a new dog or baby arrives in your household your cat may start thinking that they would be better off taking up residence in the nice quiet house of the old lady who has fed them in the past.

In order to prevent this from happening try to ensure that your cat is well looked after at home. Make sure they have clean fresh water, great cat food, a clean litter tray and, most importantly, a safe, comfortable, quiet place where they can hide away inside your house in order to get some complete peace and quiet when your cat needs to.

Some Cats Behaviour May Change When There Is A Full Moon

Full moons can have an impact on the behaviour of some cats.

Some will act more mischievously than usual whereas others may hide more. They may also sleep more and be more fearful than usual.

So if your cat has gone missing check if there is a full moon, if there is then it may be that your cat for some reason has decided to hide away for a little bit.

Is It Normal For Cats To Disappear For A Few Days?

Yes, cats are curious creatures and their adventures often take them away from home for a day or two. Most cats return home after a few hours but there are several reasons cats may stay away for longer.

They may have lost track of their surroundings, gone hunting or exploring, or they may have followed the scent of a potential mate. They could also be unwell, trapped, or overstimulated (for example if you have a new family member or have just moved house).

If you haven’t seen your cat for a couple of days and it is out of character for them not to return home, search the local area and ask neighbours to check their sheds and garages to ensure your cat isn’t trapped somewhere.

Top Tips To Ensure Your Cat Doesn’t Go Missing For Days at a Time

  • Invest in a good quality cat tracking device to give yourself peace of mind and allow yourself to find out exactly where your cat is at any given time.
  • Get your cat spayed or neutered as soon as possible.
  • Invest in a good quality cat enclosure or catio to prevent your cat from leaving your garden.
  • Install a microchip compatible cat flap to limit your cat’s time outdoors.
  • Make sure your cat has everything it needs and wants in your home so that it won’t go looking elsewhere for a more comfortable life, gadgets like a cat water fountain help improve your cat’s perception of their home.

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