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Unlike dogs, cats are only semi-domesticated animals. This may explain why cats are natural wanderers; every cat owner knows this! It is known that some cats are gifted with an amazing sense of direction, but the source of this gift is still a mystery. Currently, we do not have a definite answer to the question, how can a cat find its way home even many thousands of kilometers away? Read on to know How do cats find their way back home.

Theorists speculate that a cat can instinctively choose the right direction, even if it first finds itself in an unfamiliar place. But how? Cats can be one of those animals that can sense the earth’s magnetic fields. In addition, there is iron in the inner ear and skin of a cat and this can act like a natural compass.

You have probably read or heard a few stories about cats that were lost for an unthinkable period of time, and after many years they found their way back to their beloved home, despite all the difficulties! 

While there aren’t many scientific studies that can prove the exact reason why some cats return home unmistakably, there are several theories that might explain how this happens. Whether due to their sense of smell or earth magnetism, cats can return home thanks to an impressive internal compass.

how do cats find their way back home

How do cats find their way back home

How do cats walk?

To understand how cats return home, let’s start by examining how a cat walks, whether in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Cats are territorial animals. You may have already witnessed examples of your cat’s territorial behavior without even realizing it – for example, when the cat rubbed its cheeks, sides and tail against objects, your legs and trees around your house. This behavior is a way of marking territory with the smell of pheromones. Cats rub against objects on the street to mark their houses and areas that they consider “theirs”, they send messages to other cats in such a way that this is someone else’s territory and it is already occupied or someone has claimed it.

Thanks to these invisible boundaries for the human eye, established among animals, cats, as a rule, remain in their own or familiar territories most of the time. Observation of cats revealed that they can bypass the territory up to several tens of kilometers!

However, most of the domesticated cats walked in a much smaller area, and many of them dared to go no further than 1.5 km from the place where they live. Cats that lived in a densely populated area that several other cats live in were more likely to only explore a small portion of their street, and some cats may even choose to stay within the familiar boundaries of their own yard.

how do cats find their way back home

ow do cats find their way home

Cats that offered the opportunity to walk outside quickly explore the surrounding area and usually do not go too far from home. But what happens if there is a cat on the street that has never been there before? Or what if you were traveling with your cat and she lost … can she find her way home? And if so, how?

Due to a lack of scientific research on this topic, it is currently impossible to tell exactly how some cats return. There are several theories that can shed light on possible explanations, one of which is the feline’s definition of its territory.

Cats mark their territories in different ways, with urine, claws, cheek pheromones, etc. Cats actually have a very good sense of smell, almost as good as a dog’s nose. For example, the human nose has five million odor receptors, while cats can have up to eighty million. Cats use their sense of smell to understand if there are other cats nearby, they are enemies or friends, whether the territory they have entered is occupied by other cats, they can also find their home by smell. They smell their own familiar scent several hundred meters away and realize that they have returned to their home territory. 

These sensory abilities can certainly help a cat navigate the world around her, but there is another reason why cats sometimes return home.

Like most mammals, a cat’s inner ear contains iron, which can help them determine the direction, thanks to the earth’s magnetic field. Some animals, such as deer, have shown the ability to discriminate between north and south, which suggests that cats can do this too.

how do cats find their way back home

Help your cat get back

While there are certainly impressive stories of dogs that walked tens of kilometers to return to their owners, and cats found in a nearby town years after being lost, unfortunately, many of the missing animals simply don’t return home. … It is safe to assume that most pet owners would not want their pet to go missing, and proactive measures can help prevent such a disaster.

First of all, you can microchip your cat and always wear a secure self-detaching collar with updated contact information. Also, for the safety of your cat and anyone she might come across, be sure to castrate cats and cats, which will not only prevent unwanted pregnancies in females but can also curb the tendency to run away and wander.

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