The Omlet Blog

Why Do Cats Run Away?

curious ginger cat tempted to explore the great outdoors

If your feline friend has turned your life into a frenzy and ran away before then you’re not alone. Cats are notoriously territorial, highly organised and routine-based, and are creatures of comfort and security. This does however not mean that they won’t abandon their home comforts if they feel the need for adventure or become distressed due to changes in their home environment. What are the main causes for our cats to run and turn curiosity into concern?

Possible Reasons why Cats go Missing and Don’t Come Back

Cats don’t just run away from home without a good reason. Indoor cats might be less likely to run because being outdoors isn’t something they are used to. Unfortunately, if something causes them to go outside and they get scared they could run out of fear and confusion. Outdoor cats might already be familiar with the perimeters of their homes, though there are many reasons why they too could run away. Here we look into various reasons why this could happen and what we can do about it if it does, so that our domesticated cats stay safe!

Your Cat was Scared

A cat’s disappearance can also be linked to fear. Indoor cats will have less access to the outdoors mostly for safety reasons or lack of outdoor space. They can be scared by loud noises, an unwelcomed visitor, for example a neighbour’s dog or something unfamiliar to them, and it doesn’t take long for your purrfectly happy pussycat to turn into a scaredy-cat. They certainly enjoy a peaceful environment and can often become quite disgruntled when that peace is disturbed. If their home life has become unsettled due to divorce, children leaving home or moving house their impulse could be to escape what may seem like a dangerous environment.

They’re in Season (or looking for a cat that is!)

This is something to watch out for, especially when female cats are on heat. When unneutered male cats get a whiff of a reproductive female there’s little you can do to distract him! It is not uncommon for cats to follow their mating instinct and they could disappear for days during this mating season.

As an owner of a female cat, it may be a good idea to keep them in during this time to avoid this dilemma and a few worried cat owners. Otherwise, ensure that your cats are neutered, which will diminish this instinct.

They were Stressed

As we have looked at some of the common, perhaps less threatening, causes for cats to run away, it is important to address the more serious reasons, which can be down to changes to the home environment and the stress that this can cause to our pets in general. 

Cats are independent and can often be quite aloof and lead us to believe that they are pretty resilient, but this is not at all the case. They crave the security of home life, and whilst they’re not as dependent on us as dogs are, they love their human families and are very protective of them. As we spend so much time with our pets, they develop possibly more human characteristics than we realise. When our lives become unsettled, so do theirs. Take the time to explore cats and stress, why it happens and how to spot it.

Cats do suffer from separation anxiety, which may be more apparent as we emerged out of various lockdowns and headed back to work. If the home routine changes, cats will notice and can often become very distressed. This could lead to some more challenging behaviours, however, running away is unfortunately also very common as a result of stressed home life.

They’re Cheating on You

If you’ve noticed that your cat has put on a little weight, it’s not unlikely that an overly friendly neighbour is feeding them. Cats absolutely love being spoiled and they can be very sneaky and often get what they want. It’s unlikely that anyone would just allow a cat to be a permanent resident of their home without checking if they belong to anyone, but it’s best to be on the lookout. If you become aware that this in fact is happening, just have a polite word the person(s) in question and stay one step ahead of your greedy pussycat.

You Didn’t have an Outdoor Catio

Allowing space for your cat to challenge itself and play is really important. At Omlet we have developed our Omlet Catio range, which provides a safe and secure place to do just that. Conquer the curiosity in your cat’s personality, let them climb, hang, balance and relax as if they were out in the wild. This way you can entertain your cat’s natural instincts and keep them safe at the same time.


Natural Predators

Cats are determined hunters and once that animal instinct kicks in they can go for miles, extending their hunting perimeter. It is possible that they become so distracted pursuing their prey that they get lost! More often than not, they will return, perhaps rather hungry and slightly embarrassed that they managed to get lost in the first place!

Disease, Injury or Death

Outdoor cats are more prone to sickness and injury than indoor felines. That could be due to infection from ticks, fighting with other cats, poisonous plants or food. For this reason, your cats are safer in an outdoor cat run so you know where your feline is at all times.

If you’re concerned about your cat once they’ve returned from a stint in the great outdoors, it is recommended you take them to the vet immediately to get them checked over. 

In a desperately sad situation, and one we don’t like to think about, some cats will wander off to die. A senior cat who knows they are nearing the end of their life may wander off to be alone. Cats who are very unwell, often hide away and some will not return. If you do have an elderly cat or one that’s unwell then, it’s important to make sure they stay warm and comfortable. So, what are the best ways to keep your cats warm? Pay attention to your cuddly companions, because after all that is what they are, companions, and you want to make sure that they are looked after in the best way possible. 

Picked up By a Moving Vehicle

Wandering cats may find themselves in a tricky situation if they end up creeping into an open car or delivery van and falling asleep! Given their size, they could easily go unnoticed until much later. A more worrying or unimaginable reason would be that they have been catnapped. Sadly they could easily be picked up by someone and they wouldn’t be able to give that much of a fight. Your cat’s safety is important, and given all these external factors and fears it is recommended that your cat is microchipped, even if you have an id tag on your cats collar. That is is better than nothing, but it’s worth noting collars can also impose a risk to your cat’s safety when climbing trees or getting stuck in bushes.

What Should I Do if My Cat is Missing?

If you have a missing cat try not to panic. Despite feeling helpless, scared, and worried it is important to get on the case and take action as soon as possible. There are multiple reasons why cats run away or wander off, and more often than not they will return, but it’s always best to be prepared. Whether you have an indoor cat or a predominantly outdoor cat who often roams freely, finding out they have gone missing is a frightening experience. Get as many people as possible involved in the search and contact a local shelter or vets so that they too can keep an eye out.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

As a cat lover, you would naturally be devastated if your cat runs away. You have probably done everything you can to provide the most comforting home for your furry friend, but cats do sometimes run away, and it’s won’t necessarily have been your fault. So try not to be too hard on yourself! If you can identify why your cat may have bolted it might help work out how to get them back.

Post on Local Facebook Groups

The internet is full of animal lovers and can be a very useful resource in a situation like a missing cat. Post an up to date photo and description of your whiskered friend in some local Facebook groups, this way you’re increasing your chances of finding him/her. Someone may have spotted your lost cat, which may give you a clue as to which direction they have gone in!

How Missing Cats Find Their Way Home

Most cats are capable of finding their own way home to their cat parents. Our animal’s ability to retrace their steps even after a few days following the scent of an unneutered male or female cat or chasing after prey is part of their natural homing instinct. So if you’re a cat parent to a runaway cat, don’t jump to the worst conclusion. There is always a possibility that they will return.

 If you have recently moved house a cat can potentially try to find their way back to its previous home. It has been reported that cats can travel hundreds of miles over the course of a few months if necessary, just to get back to what they think is home. It’s not recommended to let your cat out when you first move, because they need to get used to their surroundings first. You can attempt to use a cat lead, which isn’t always straightforward. Cats, unlike dogs, aren’t particularly keen on being “walked”. Another suggestion is to carry your cat around the garden or down the driveway or road so that they can become a little more familiar with the perimeters of their new home. 

Their Favourite Treats Were Left Out

Domestic cats love being spoiled and they enjoy a treat or two! Leaving some of their favourite Cat Treats out may well entice them back after their recent wanderings.

They Missed You

Not all cats run away from home on purpose. It is likely that something caused them to run. Your relationship with your pussy pal will have a big impact on how they feel about you. Cats are often treated as a family member and they recognise that, so they will miss their cat parents after a while and crave the comfort of home life soon enough.

They Decided to Come Back

After the mini-adventure, they might realise that being away from home isn’t that great and will just return by themselves! The prospect of a nice warm lap to sit on or the pleasures of their own Maya Donut Cat Bed will beat staying out in the cold and having to fend for themselves. Cats are independent beings, but they are guilty of wanting human interaction and creature comforts.

comfortable little kitten snuggled up on a white maya donut bed

Why Do Cats Run Away from Humans?

Despite your best efforts cats may feel a bit neglected due to changes in your life such as a more demanding job, a new partner or a baby, which would naturally require more of your attention. You may have less time to devote to your kitty, which can make them look for attention elsewhere. A cat’s personality craves attention and play, and even though they may act like they don’t need their cat person, they really do.

Humans are Much Bigger and Can Seem Intimidating

Cat owners naturally adore their pussycat pals and would do almost anything to protect them, however, it’s worth taking into account not all humans feel the same, with some even being afraid of cats. Many cat parents will be recognisable to their kitty babies but they may feel a little intimidated by humans they have not come across before. Cats can certainly pick up on any negativity from humans that might not be so welcoming to a small four-legged furry friend.

You Might’ve Been too Rough with Them

Cats are not as tough as they might seem, and remember, they are only small creatures! Your strength could be overpowering to them and frighten them. So when you are playing with them, be careful that you’re not too rough! When there are small children around, it is important to keep an eye on how they behave around cats, especially if they don’t have any of their own. Children might not understand how to play and often tug at the tail, which certainly will not impress our furry feline.

How Can I Stop My Cat from Running Away from Me?

Take into account your current home life and any changes, whether there are other animals to contend with or new humans to get used to. Cat’s don’t like to feel second best, so there are feline aids that will make them feel extra special, like the Luxurious Maya Donut Cat Bed that will leave your kitty feeling like a king or queen. It is important to build a good relationship with your cat and understand their unique personality.

Build Trust

Whether you bring up your feline from a tiny kitten or take in a shy rescue cat, your relationship with them as the primary caregiver needs to be consistent. The trust between this small creature and their cat parent is fundamental to their happiness, and ultimately yours too!

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your kitty cat whenever required to do so, because knowing that they are loved will reinforce their desire to stay with you and not try to escape if the moment presents itself.

  • Entertain your cat with fun and stimulating cat toys by exploring the fun side and predatory behaviours rather than trying to diminish it
  • 2 legged human companions respond well to the occasional promise of chocolate or sweets and that includes cats! Reward them with some tasty cat treats
  • Love, lots of love! Shower your cat in love, which will ultimately be the best reward ever!

Create a Safe Space

In a potentially unsettled environment, if you have moved house, welcomed a new member to the family or have suffered a loss within the family your cat will feel this unsettled feeling in the same way. Make sure you provide a safe and secluded space for your cat, which gives your pussycat a super snuggly cosy house away from any disturbances. 


It is very important to provide a safe home for your cats and gradually get them used to a new routine if anything changes at home. Cats love order and change can cause them to feel stressed, scared or even unwanted. When cats feel threatened, they usually respond in three ways to the object, individual or circumstance: fight, flee or freeze. Sadly for us, cats running away from home is more common than we would like, and whilst the prodigal pussycat will often return when they please, it is important to be prepared for every possible situation. For peace of mind, ensuring that your cat is microchipped with up to date information is very important, and for the owners of indoor cats who don’t roam freely, give them the sense of the great outdoors and feed their curiosity with an outdoor catio, or a cat balcony enclosure.

This entry was posted in Cats

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