Cats and their sense of direction: is it easy for them to find their way back home to you?
Previous research suggests that wild cats have an excellent sense of direction, often roaming for miles, whilst retaining the ability to track back their steps. But is this also true for pet cats?
‘Feline fine: Cat finds its way home 200 miles away after going missing on holiday’ – sensational news headlines like this one can perpetuate a public view that cats never truly get lost. Instead, all we hear about is owners being reunited with their furry friends after days of unnecessary worrying. Whilst it’s true that most cats can often rely on their strong senses to get their bearings, pet cats are different to feral cats and it shouldn’t be assumed that they will always find their way home.
Theories, tales, truths
Cats are not as domesticated as dogs, explaining why they are wanderers by nature and ruthlessly independent. Some cats are indeed gifted with a great sense of direction, but others aren’t. The reasons for both remain unknown. We’re still unable to fully explain if and how a cat can navigate her way back home.
Some theories suggest that cats may be able to instinctively choose the right direction if finding themselves in a new place. Cats may be among a very select few animals that are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic fields. The presence of iron in their inner ears and skin may also act as a natural compass.
Cats have powerful senses with which to experience the world. Their fur and paws are responsible for gathering information about their environment and passing it to their brain for processing. It is common knowledge that cats possess:
- A heightened sense of smell
- Acute hearing
- Precise vision (probably better than yours)!
However, your cat can still get themselves lost. We shouldn’t rely on these insights about our clever little pet to give us a false sense of security. If your cat has been missing for a while, this GPS pet tracker will enable you to quickly find him, scoop him up and return him to the safety of your home.
Even if your cat is as skilled at finding their way around as research might suggest, their wanderings can expose them to a variety of hazards. For example, outdoor cats are more likely to be exposed to contagious viruses such as feline leukaemia which affects an estimated 3% of all cats. Indoor cats have a much lower risk of contracting this disease.
Indoor cats generally have a longer lifespan (up to 20 years) whereas the lifespan of outdoor cats is between 2 and 11 years. Cats who regularly roam outdoors can get into dangerous fights with other cats, can encounter people who dislike felines (crazy to think these people exist) and can struggle with extreme weather conditions.
Keep your furry friend safe
- Know your area – how cat friendly is it? Dangers for your pet lie where you least expect them. Watch out for toxic plants and be wary of using any strong chemical pesticides
- Keep her within reach – give her the space she needs but keep an eye on where she wanders, whether it’s just in your back garden or around the block
- Beware of ‘dumped cats’ – these are stray cats that have sadly been abandoned by their owners far from their original home. They may attack or threaten your cat to compete for territory
- Get the GPS pet tracker device – no pain, plenty of gain. These cause no harm or irritation to your cat and you can see where they are going daily, and where they’ve been! Totally waterproof and with live updates, this will help you monitor their potential encounters with risk at all times