Does your cat like to wander?
16 January 2020
House cats are certainly very common, if you live in a large city, an apartment or just have a cat looking for an easy life, staying at home can suit them perfectly.
However, the majority of cats owned in Australia do like to explore and wonder. As very territorial animals, they’ll have their own ‘patch’ that they’ll put a lot of time and effort into defending.
How far does my cat travel?
The only way to know the answer to this for sure is to put a tracker on your cat because no two cats are the same. If you live in a busy residential development or a bustling city, your cat might not travel far at all. They’ll have less territory to share between more cats, so they’ll have less to keep an eye on. If they’re out hunting, they also won’t need to go as far if they’re looking for some prey or a kitty companion.
However, if they live out in the bush or somewhere much more rural, they’ll be more likely to wonder further.
Scientists have concluded that on average, a male cat will go to around 500 meters away from their home whereas a female cat won’t usually go more than 230 meters.
What is my cat doing when it’s out at night?
Cats aren’t nocturnal, they’re crepuscular which means they’re most active around dawn and dusk. This means they’ll spend a good proportion of the night sleeping or just relaxing.
Most young and active cats will be prowling their neighbourhood, looking for food (or chasing something that might have the potential to be food) and participating in the odd fight. If another cat encroaches on territory they’ve deemed to be theirs, they’ll instinctively want to fight to prove ownership. The same attitude goes for male cats who have seen a female cat they’re interested in.
Should I worry about my cat being out at night?
Most cats will always return home each morning ready and waiting for their breakfast but not all cats make it back.
It’s not just fighting with other cats that can pose a risk, there are lots of dangers out there your cat will not appreciate:
- Cars and traffic – if you live in a built-up area, your cat is more likely to encounter moving vehicles and statistically speaking, a driver traveling at night is more likely to be tired and have slower reaction times. If you live somewhere more rural, you might not need to worry about volume of traffic so much but it’s more likely to be travelling at a higher speed, giving a driver less time to see your cat if they run out.
- Chemicals and toxins – everyday toxins that we might not think twice about can easily encounter your cat when they’re out and about. Engine coolant leaks from cars is often attractive to passing cats. As well as common fertilizers your neighbours might use on their gardens, plants like lilies are incredibly toxic to cats and a simple brush past can be enough to do serious damage.
- Animals and wildlife – cats don’t retire from running their territory, one day even the most dominant cat will have to concede a fight. In the meantime, their propensity to chase anything that moves could result in them needed urgent vet care. Between snakes, spiders and ticks, there are plenty of creatures indigenous to Australia that your cat should stay away from.
- Humans – it’s not uncommon for your cat to find themselves a second home and a well-meaning neighbour might not think twice about inviting them in. At best this could cause a minor inconvenience as it could result in your cat being fed twice resulting in weight gain. At worse it means you won’t be able to administer medicines properly if any are prescribed following any vet trips.
- Getting lost – cats have an amazing sense of direction and you’ll often hear stories of cats finding their way home after several years or across hundreds or thousands of miles. Ideally, you never want your cat to be in that position in the first place. All it takes is an open lorry they decide to jump in to investigate and suddenly your cat is transported to the other side of the country.
How can I keep my cat safe at night?
The best way to keep any cat safe at night is to keep them indoors. There are some incredibly clever cat flaps on the market these days including ones that lock after a certain time (only allowing your cat in but not back out) to ones that are coded to only allow your pet entry. In some towns and cities across Australia, cat curfews mean legally your cat must be kept indoors at night.
If you do let your cat out at night make sure they’re spayed/neutered, microchipped and insured. By spaying or neutering them, they’ll be less inclined to start a fight and you won’t need to worry about any unplanned kittens. If they’re microchipped, you’ll be able to find them if they go missing and end up at a vets and insurance means you’re never having to gamble the health and wellbeing of your pet if something does go wrong.
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