Can Cats Find Their Way Home

Cats are very intelligent and have an excellent sense of smell, hearing, and sight. They can also communicate with humans using body language and vocalizations. In addition to being good house pets, cats are great hunters.  

They are able to recognize their owners’ voices, they can distinguish between humans and other animals, and they can even navigate through unfamiliar environments.

In this article, we are going to discuss whether a cat can find their way back home. 

Cats Go Missing

Cats go missing for many reasons. Some may be stolen or run away from home. Others may get lost while exploring the neighborhood or outside.

If your cat has been missing for less than 24 hours, you can still help him/her by looking around where you think your cat went missing. 

Try calling his name loudly and see if he comes running. If he does not come running, look at the area carefully.

Look under bushes, behind trees, and along fences. Make sure you check all areas near the place where your cat was last seen.

Other reasons that your cat may have gone missing include, if your cat isn’t feeling well. Or they may have found someone else to get food from.

Cats are known to go searching for free food, whether that is in another household or in a dumpster. 

Alongside that, if there are a lot of disruptions in the home, your cat will decide to go in search of somewhere calmer. If your cat goes missing, then go look at shelters to see if your cat has been picked up there. 

Do Cats Run Away To Die

When a cat is unwell, they will look for a quiet and safe place to stay. The more unwell the cat is, the more the cat will crave security and safety.

Although, ill cats don’t normally tend to travel too far away from home. They go in search of a safe and quiet spot to rest. 

Although, if they are too weak to get food or even walk back home, they could die in that spot they have chosen. 

Therefore, if your ill cat goes missing you need to do a thorough check of all nearby spaces, to look for them. Also checking local shelters and with neighbors, in case anyone sees your cat.

Homing Skills And Cats

Cats use their homing skills when they need to return to their homes. When a cat is in distress, it will try to find its way home. This usually involves following smells that lead them to familiar places.

A cat’s nose is much more sensitive than ours. It can detect minute amounts of chemicals that our noses cannot. The scent of their own urine is one of the strongest odors that a cat recognizes.

Once a cat finds its way home, it will often rub against objects like walls and furniture to leave a scent trail.

An experiment was carried out in 1954 that placed cats in a very large maze. The aim was to see if the cats could find the way out of the maze and find their way home.

Most of the cats managed to leave the maze by the exit that was closest to their home. Yet, when a magnet was attached to the cat, this affected their homing instinct, and they weren’t able to find the exit and make their way back home. 

It is known that all cats have a homing instinct. However, some cats may have a stronger instinct than others. Thus, they will be able to find their way home much easier than others.

Will Cats Find Their Way Back To A New Home?

A new home is a big change for any animal. You must give your cat time to adjust to the new environment. Your cat needs to learn how to interact with the new people and things in the new home.

He/she may also want to explore the new surroundings. Be patient as your cat adjusts to the new home. Give your cat plenty of attention and love. Also, make sure he/she gets enough exercise.

If your cat goes missing for longer than 24 hours, then you may have to take action to reunite your cat with you. It can take a cat a couple of days to a week to learn that they have a new home.

They need time to remember their new magnetic map that they can use to return home when they have been out. 

Although, there is a chance that to begin with, your cat will return to your old home, especially if they lived there for many years.

Research has found out that around 30% of cats have been known to try to rent their old homes, once they have moved.

As a result, even if you have moved far away if your cat goes missing then you should ask your old neighbors to keep an eye out for your cat to turn up at some point. 

Will A Cat Come Home Years Later?

It is known that a cat can come back to you. This could take a couple of days, a few weeks, months, or even a few years. Studies have found out that cats can travel great distances.

Cats can actually travel around 50 to 80 miles in 2.5 years. This then equals to 38 miles in 6 months and 30 miles in 10 days and 20 miles in 21 days.

As a result, your cat may have wandered off, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope. There is every chance that they could one day return.

Although, after a certain period of time, you may want to accept that your cat isn’t coming back. 

After a few months, if there has been no sign of your cat, you can assume that they aren’t coming back. Then the percentage of a cat coming back to you after a couple of years is quite low, not impossible, but not very likely. 


Cats are known for their fantastic homing instincts, these instincts allow them to find their way back home. As a result, if your cat goes missing, they should be able to find their way back home.

However, if you have recently moved or your cat is unwell, then your cat may struggle to find their way back to you. 

If your cat does go missing, always check with neighbors, check nearby areas and with local shelters in case anyone has seen your cat. However, the majority of the time your cat will find their way back to you. 

Courtney Trent
Latest posts by Courtney Trent (see all)