Just as soon as you open the door, something zooms past you. Your cat! Cat owners are divided on the idea of their pets spending time outdoors and for a good reason, there is always the possibility that your cat is not able or does not even want to come back.
Will your cat come back if you let him out?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. Some cats return home unscathed while others leave and never come back.
Some cat owners let their cats spend some time outdoors while others keep their pets indoors exclusively. There are a few pros and cons for each of these camps and it is well worth looking at these before you make a decision for yourself and your furry little pal.
However, it is critical to clarify a few things. Some cat owners think that their pets are more than well-equipped to get themselves home, whether they have been let outside voluntarily or involuntarily.
Although felines possess highly developed senses, especially their sense of smell, these may not be enough to guide them back home, especially if they have lived indoors exclusively before getting outside.
In fact, it is not unusual for cats to get lost. It is highly likely that at one point or another, you have encountered posters or online posts related to missing cats in your area.
Furthermore, the outside world is fraught with risks, ranging from wild animals to fast-moving cars.
This is why it is critical to get your cat microchipped, whether you decide to keep him inside exclusively or allow him to spend some time outdoors.
Is your cat coming back or should you declare him missing?
That depends on a few factors. There are anecdotes and news feature stories of cats reuniting with their families after months or even a full year of going missing.
It is also possible for your cat to leave a trail of scent in his urine that will enable him to find his way back home.
As a rule of thumb, you should wait at least 24 hours before you declare your cat as missing. Some cats return home a few hours after leaving their homes, while for others, it can take several hours or even a full day.
When you do finally decide that your cat is indeed missing, it is vital to conduct a physical search for your pet. Sometimes, your cat just found his way into a neighbor’s property. But more often than not, cats wander around a 1,600 feet radius from their homes.
It is also important to consider a few critical factors. For example, if your cat spends some time outdoors regularly, he is most likely to travel farther than a cat that has lived exclusively indoors.
What can you do to find your missing cat?
If your cat has bolted out of your door and has not come back, the last thing that you need to do is panic. Panicking will not do any good and it would probably worsen the situation.
Instead, remain calm and begin preparing yourself for the next tasks that you need to perform.
1. Make posters
Find a picture of your cat and print a missing poster. Be sure to include pertinent details about him as well as your contact information. You can post these in your neighborhood and distribute these in nearby establishments like the local vet and shelter.
2. Take advantage of social media
Aside from printing posters, you can leverage social media to widen your reach. Post a digital version of the poster you created on your social media accounts. Be sure to set this post to public so that your friends and loved ones can share your post. You can also post on online communities and enlist the help of online groups to give you a clue about your pet’s current location.
3. Conduct a physical search
As mentioned earlier, most cats wander around in a 1,600 feet radius. As such, it is highly likely that your pet is just exploring your neighborhood.
How to prevent your cat from going outside
Although there are some benefits to letting your cat play and explore the outside world, there are also a few disadvantages. And if you are convinced that your pet should only be kept indoors, there are a few things that you can do to prevent him from escaping.
Neuter or spay
Apart from preventing unwanted pregnancies in cats, sterilization can also help improve a cat’s quality of life as well as prevent a few unwanted behaviors. This includes the desire to go outside. On your next visit to the vet, ask about sterilization. Your vet can provide you with the information you need to decide whether you should neuter or spay your pet or not.
Create a stimulating indoor environment
Your cat is less likely to escape your home if you provide him with a stimulating indoor environment that meets his basic needs.
- Start by investing in a couple of scratching posts that you can place in different parts of your home.
- Make mealtimes more engaging by buying a puzzle feeder for your pet.
- Consider installing perches and cat trees. You can position these near windows so that your pet will have a good view of the outside world.
- Carve a few minutes from your daily schedule to play and grooming. Your cat will appreciate each minute that you spend with him.
Secure your home
Place screens on windows, doors, and other possible exit points. But more importantly, teach all family members to close the doors and windows securely to prevent your cat from escaping, especially when there is nobody at home.
Get your cat microchipped
Whether you want to keep your cat exclusively indoors or if you want to allow him to spend some time outdoors, it is a good idea to cover all your bases and get your pet microchipped.
Losing a pet can be heartbreaking
Losing a cat can be heartbreaking. But if your cat escapes from your home, there is no time to despair. Although it is possible that your cat can return home, it is a good idea to act fast and be proactive in searching for your beloved pet.
Image: istockphoto.com / AaronAmat