Any cat allowed unrestricted outside access will wander away from home. This can end in the cat being killed or picked up by the pound. Although cats evolved to be predators with large ranges to roam, this life is not compatible to modern living. The College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University’s ‘Indoor Cat Initiative’ urges all cat owners to keep their cats indoors. But indoor cats will still have an urge to wander.
Also, keeping a cat outdoors is no longer an option for many parts of North America and Europe. Outdoor cats are killed by traffic, get into poisons, are shot for sport and are rounded up for use in laboratories. More and more towns are also passing leash laws that make owing a cat that wanders about illegal. This writer happens to live in such a town.
How To Stop Wandering Urge
Get the cat spayed or neutered if it is not used in any breeding program. The urge to find a mate is a large reason for why cats wander away from the safety of home territory in the first place. Males will especially wander more than females.
Make the indoors far more interesting for the cat so they will not try to wander out of boredom. The cat should have access to several rooms with many places to jump onto. Cats do feel secure when on a high perch. Cats enjoy looking out of windows, so make sure all windows have enough of a ledge for the cat. If a ledge is not available, install a cat window sill or place sturdy furniture just below the window to act as a ledge. Place a soft pillow on the ledge to encourage the cat to stay a while.
Interact with your cat every day. In making yourself more interesting to the cat, the cat will also not be bored enough to think about slipping out of an open door. Talk to the cat, pet the cat and play with the cat every day.
Use pet gates if the cat has a penchant for trying to slip out of an open door. Before you open a door, place the cat in either a room with a closed door or behind a pet gate.
Teach the cat to walk on a lead. This is a fun option for both cat and owner to safely get some exercise. Keep in mind that not all cats will tolerate a lead. Cats also walk very slowly on leads and often sit down to look about.
Get the cat micro-chipped, because collars can slip off. This is a safe, permanent ID that will help raise the chances of you finding your cat if the cat wanders or is lost in an emergency situation. Also, get rid of any cat flaps or pet doors, because the cat will escape that way.
“ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats.” James R. Richards, DVM. Chronicle Books; 1999.
Cat World Australia. “Keeping Indoor Cats Happy.” http://www.cat-world.com.au/keeping-indoor-cats-happy
Best Friends Animal Society. “No More Homeless Pets Forum: Cat Behavior.” http://www.bestfriends.org/archives/forums/catbehavior.html