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If An Indoor Cat Gets Outside Will It Come Back?

If An Indoor Cat Gets Outside Will It Come Back?

Keeping a cat indoors is absolutely the best way to keep it safe.

I’m sure you’re all well aware of it. I also believe some of you let your cat get outside sometimes, of course, under your supervision.

But, some indoor cats will use a moment of inattention and find a way to run away from their home. This is something that scares out every cat parent.

There are many dangers out there, especially for strictly indoor cats that aren’t skillful enough to survive on their own.

If an indoor cat gets outside, will it come back? Let’s delve into this issue and discover whether you have something to hope for if you find yourself in this situation.

Can An Indoor Cat Find Its Way Back Home?

portrait of a cat sitting on the grass and looking into the distance

Chances are, you’ve noticed your cat disappeared soon after this incident.

If your cat is never left too long without surveillance, it probably hasn’t gone too far. This suggests it might be hiding somewhere nearby and will eventually return home.

According to PetMD, cats have a homing instinct that helps them find their way back home. They are believed to be able to use the earth’s magnetic fields to get back to their homes. Of course, their smell is also of great help here.

Furthermore, cats have long-term memory. This means they are able to remember things, places, and people, especially if they associate positive memories with them. 

This is why it’s likely they won’t forget their owners, even after they’re separated, provided they were deeply bonded with them.

Of course, not all cats will be equally successful in remembering their way back home. It could also depend on how far they’ve gone from their home, and whether they have been outside ever before.

An indoor cat that’s outside for the first time, on its own, is very vulnerable. American Humane explains how cats are exposed to catching diseases such as feline distemper and feline leukemia (FeLV) when outdoors.

They’re also likely to suffer from ticks, fleas, and gastrointestinal worms. Other biggest concerns are car accidents, toxins, and loose dogs and wild animals.

You should stay positive and hope for your pet to come back. Also, you should do everything in your power to make this happen.

What To Do If Your Cat Gets Lost?

Of course, you can start by calling out your cat’s name outdoors. However, there’s a low chance that it will come out to your calls.

Your indoor cat is likely to be terrified in this situation. But, if you have just noticed your cat missing, there’s a good chance that it is still somewhere nearby. 

First search thoroughly your home, your yard, and the surrounding area. Check with your neighbors whether they have seen or heard of your kitty lately. Ask them politely to check out their yards, too.

There’s also a possibility that your cat is trapped or injured, and could not even be able to get out by itself.

Remember to check out all the places your cat usually likes to hide. It could also be useful to walk around your neighborhood with a flashlight late at night. This is when it’s the quietest and when a cat might come out if it’s frightened and hiding.

When searching for your cat, you should have its favorite treats with you. Maintain a positive attitude and act as if you’re going to reward your feline friend once you find it.

Also, it’s a good idea to leave your cat’s favorite toy or blanket on your porch. Since felines have such a powerful sense of smell, this could help them to find their way home.

Another thing to do is create lost pet posters and hang them up around your neighborhood. You should also use social media to inform your acquaintance of your cat’s escape.

Of course, it’s also essential to check local shelters and contact rescue groups.

What Are The Chances Of An Indoor Cat Coming Back Home?

the cat sits on the lawn and turns to look behind it

Liyan Huang and his associates [1] explain that one-third of lost cats are recovered within seven days of being lost.

Also, their study showed that a physical search increased the chances of finding cats alive. 75% of cats were found within a 500-mile radius of their escape point.

Therefore, no matter how desperate you are after realizing your feline friend is gone, don’t give up. Stay optimistic and never stop looking for it.

There are even heartwarming stories of cats finding their way back home years after their disappearance. CTV News Channel reported a story about the cat Peter that was united with its owners after being separated for five years.

The moral of the story is to not feel discouraged if some days have passed and you haven’t been successful yet. Just believe your lovely pet will soon be back.

What Can Cause A Cat To Want To Go Outside?

Once your cat has gone missing, you naturally don’t think much about the reason for its escape. You have bigger problems now.

However, it’s important you know the potential causes for your cat to go outside. This can help you to prevent further accidents like these and even give some useful advice to your fellow cat parents.

Let’s look at the three most common causes for an indoor cat to go outside.

1. Looking For Mates

the cat is hiding behind a wooden barrel

The leading reason why an intact cat would run away from home is to look out for mates.

Once a cat gets sexually active, it will try to find mates in its vicinity. Male cats are more likely to roam and look for females in heat. Females will rub against everything and vocalize loudly to let males know they’re ready for mating.

Typically, male cats reach sexual maturity between five and seven months of age, while females enter their first heat cycle between the sixth and twelfth month.

Female cats will go into heat until they get spayed or pregnant. They can even mate and get pregnant with multiple males during their heat cycle.

2. Looking For Prey

Hunting is incorporated into a cat’s nature.

While our domestic cats don’t need to hunt for their food, they still derive pleasure from the act. 

Sometimes you’ll see your cat killing and eating its prey, while, on other occasions, it will just play with it.

If a cat doesn’t have any chances to hunt around its home, it’s likely to get to the outside world to satisfy this urge.

3. Big Changes In The Household

two cats in the garden

Felines are creatures of habit. They usually don’t react well to changes.

This can get so serious with some cats that they could even run away from their home when there has been some big change to their routine.

Some of the potential changes here are a baby in the house, or a new pet. Certain cats could never get used to sharing the same living space with another cat or dog.

Some things and changes we don’t even consider serious can cause high-stress levels in our feline friends.

What To Do To Prevent Your Cat From Going Outside?

a veterinarian sterilizes an awake cat while lying on a table

You may not always have control over your indoor cat’s desire to venture outside.

Some cats simply get curious and want to see the outside world. But, there are still certain steps you can take here. 

This way, you’ll know you have done everything in your power to keep your cat healthy and satisfied in your loving home.

Spay/Neuter It

By sterilizing your cat you’ll drastically decrease its urge to roam. This means it will feel fulfilled inside your house, without constantly having the urge to look out for mates.

Also, there are numerous other benefits of sterilization for both male and female cats. North Shore Animal League America names the following as the most important ones:

• Reducing the number of unwanted kittens

• Reducing spraying behavior

• Reducing the risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian and uterine cancer, and risk of testicular cancer

• Decreases aggressive behavior

• Increases a cat’s chance of a long and healthy life

Provide It With Entertainment

Another essential thing to do here is provide your cat with entertainment.

This includes offering it enough of your time and attention. No matter how busy your schedule can get, always remember to cheer your kitty up with a play session and some petting.

To nurse your indoor cat’s hunting instincts, offer it some interactive hunting toys.

It’s in general important for your cat’s health and longevity to be mentally and physically stimulated daily.

Get Them Microchipped

As soon as your cat gets lost, it’s necessary to report it. Microchipping your cat gives you the best shots to reunite with it even after it wanders away from your home.

I definitely find microchipping a cat very useful. This is a regular practice among reputable breeders.

However, it’s important to understand that a microchip doesn’t guarantee a one hundred percent chance of finding your pet.

As the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explains, a microchip isn’t a GPS tracker. When a cat goes missing, a person who finds it will need to scan it for the microchip and find out who the cat is registered to.

This is why it’s essential you update the pet database in case you change your contact information, such as phone number or address.

If your cat ends up in a shelter, a microchip will assist the responsible staff in locating you.


If an indoor cat gets outside will it come back?

This question doesn’t have one simple answer. It all depends on the cat, its fear, and how well it can cope with the challenges of the outdoors.

Also, the moment you notice your cat’s disappearance can be of crucial importance here.

But, I want to encourage you to keep your hopes high. Cats can remember things from their surroundings and have a powerful sense of smell.

To help your pet come back to you, you should try to temp it by exposing some of its items on your porch. Some cats won’t even go far away from home, but will be startled and will hide.

It’s essential you start with the search right away. It’s not enough just to ask your neighbors whether they have seen your cat: You need to ask them to search their yards, too.

Remember to also check all dark and narrow places where your frightened cat could be hiding.

The outside world is full of dangers, especially for an indoor cat that encounters it for the first time. However, don’t lose hope right away.

Above all, never give up. If you maintain a positive outlook, luck may just smile upon you.

[1] Huang L, Coradini M, Rand J, Morton J, Albrecht K, Wasson B, Robertson D. Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found. Animals (Basel). 2018 Jan 2;8(1):5. DOI, Retrieved October 19, 2023.

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