7 Scary Reasons Why Cats Run Away


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Have you ever wondered why cats run away?

A runaway cat can be a distressing situation and you might think your cat has betrayed you.

However, it is more likely evolution at play. One main reason cats try to run away is due to being territorial.

In this article, I’ll go through 7 scary reasons why cats run away and then help you with tips to prevent your cat from running away.

My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions.

In this article, I’ll go through 7 reasons your cat runs away and give tips to prevent it.

This post is also sponsored by Petsnap. If you want to know the latest trends in the pet industry, visit Petsnap for more pro tips.

7 Scary Reasons Why Cats Run Away

7 Scary Reasons Why Cats Run Away

1. Territory Control

Cats want to gain control of their territory.

A study using an animal-borne camera with cats in a suburban area in the United States found that 45% of cats crossed a road during the monitoring period.

This shows that many cats roam around when not tended to.

To see what cats were doing, the National Geographic channel attached a GPS to cats

Whilst a few cats stayed close to home, some of the cats went for trips around the neighborhood.

A cat with a GPS monitor

2. Pain

A cat in pain might decide to run away and not return home.

Cats in pain may fear predators and consider hiding to reduce the risk of harm.

If you think your cat is in pain contact your vet for help.

3. Mating

When a female cat is in the heat it will yelp out for a mate.

This can attract male cats around the area, who aren’t desexed.

Cats will roam around for mates and seek out these female cats. This can increase the risk of your cat running away.

Two cats approaching each other

4. Moving House

If you move house, you may experience a runaway cat.

Why is this?

Like humans, cats get used to their environment.

When introducing a cat to a new home, it might not see the new environment as its real home yet. This may lead to your cat trying to find its way back home.

If you move house, keep your cat indoors until they acclimatize to the new environment.

Moving house
Hey, did you remember to bring the cat?

5. Not Enough Food

In the wild, cats eat 7-20 small meals a day.

This helps them meet their caloric needs as a carnivorous predator.

If not being fed, a cat may want to instinctively go hunting for more food.

To keep them from running away, give them better food and consider small frequent meals to improve their satisfaction.

6. Boredom

When left indoors, cats may get bored.

If your cat happens to see the front door ajar, it represents a sight of a brand new world outside.

Think of it from the cat’s perspective.

They are seeing the outside door with all the sights, sounds, and smells. Your cat will be thinking about its territory and possible hunting adventures.

A lack of environmental enrichment increases boredom in cats.

This comes from a lack of climbing, perching, and hiding opportunities in your house.

A bored cat

7. Conflict

Cats may have conflicts with other cats or pets in the house.

This type of situation is either loud or silent.

A silent conflict involves a cat staying away from another animal, which may result in running away.

If your cat gets frightened it may decide to go into defensive mode and try to hide. Cats will not reveal their location, for fear of being caught by threats.

A cat conflict

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Dangers of Cats Running Away?

The leading cause of cat fatality is road-related trauma.

A cat’s instinct is to hunt, explore, and mark territory. The instincts of a cat to hunt, explore, and mark territory will often involve passing streets.

If a cat has moved to a new house, it might be trying to find its way back home. Of course, the only way to do that is to crossroads.

Another problem of cats running away is exposure to disease and injury. Orange male cats are more prone to aggression and fighting which may result in injury.

Check out my article on orange cats for more.

An orange cat on a road

How Do I Stop a Cat From Running Away?

Knowing the cat’s strong desire to explore, it’s best to be proactive.

The main way to help improve your cat’s lifestyle is with environmental enrichment.

This means making the indoor environment as interesting and fun as possible to reduce the risk of wanting to run away.

Some call this ‘catification’ and involves things such as:

Creating an outdoor enclosure (e.g. a Catio) for your cat to explore and play whilst getting some sunlight is also a good option.

Cat proof your fencing and secure the perimeters by blocking off holes.

Other steps to consider include the following:

  • Getting a feline microchip to track your cat
  • Consider whether neutering your cat is the right option
  • Give your cat time to adapt to a new house before allowing outdoor adventures
  • Give them the proper care and attention they deserve. Always make them comfortable at home, and make sure they get enough food and a peaceful place to sleep.
  • Consider getting your cat a GPS cat tracker. This will give you peace of mind if they go missing for hours. With a GPS cat tracker, you can always track and follow here adventure in real-time. The good thing is that you can make it through your smartphone.
A cat in an enclosure

What Do I Do if My Cat Runs Away?

It is important to be proactive in preventing and protecting your cat from running away.

Having your cat microchipped and placed onto search databases is a good first prevention step. Also make sure to take regular photos of your cat, in case you need to use photo identification for your lost pet.

A collar with your pet’s name and contact details for yourself is also recommended.

If you think your cat has run away conduct a thorough search of your home. Make sure your cat hasn’t simply found a hidden nook or cranny to hide cleverly.

Ask your neighbors if you can inspect their backyard and call out your pet’s name.

Distribute flyers around your house and use Facebook groups to report a missing pet.

You can also leave your cat’s favorite food near the front door to encourage a cat to find its way home. Remember, a cat might be scared and in survival mode. It might not want to reveal itself immediately.

Another thing to keep in mind is whether you have moved. Consider expanding your search and using flyers appropriately.

Your cat might consider its home territory as not just your house but 2-3 blocks around it. Or it might be trying to find its way back to your old home since it is thinking that is ‘home’.


Cats are territorial and have a strong desire to patrol their environment. This often leads cats to wander about nearby, especially if not desexed.

A cat is a predator so it may seek out hunting opportunities if bored or hungry.

Keeping your environment interesting with cat trees, toys, caves and other items reduces boredom and helps reduce the risk of escapees. Make sure to secure your premises to protect your cat.

Take photos of your cat and microchip in the worst-case scenario you lose your cat.

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