40 facts about cats going AWOL focusing on males versus females

Admiral Insurance admirably (!) provide the public with the results of an interesting survey about cats going AWOL (absent without leave). I have decided to present the information very succinctly in a list of facts which are presented below (with some comments). The numbers concern cats in the UK. I would expect something similar the take place in other European countries and in America but perhaps less so in America because there are far more full-time indoor cats in the US. That said, some full-time indoor cats still go AWOL! The survey although interesting and useful is not perfect because the organisers are confused about the various types of cats which I mention below. I have eliminated dubious data.

Overriding personal conclusion: adopt a female cat if you want to minimise the chances of your cat going AWOL.

Lost cat
Lost cat. Image: MikeB
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  1. At any one time (my interpretation), 264,933 domestic cats are missing in the UK! Comment: in urban areas many will die on roads.
  2. Every three seconds, in the UK, a domestic cat goes missing!
  3. At some point in time, 55% of UK cat owners say that their cat has gone missing. Comment: an indication of the fact that in the UK the majority of cat owners allow their cats to go outside without supervision. But I think things are changing as Britain is being concreted over due to a huge increase in human population.
  4. Most commonly, cats go missing when their owner moves home (11%). Comment: this happened to me. I moved about a mile and my cat returned to his previous home as this is where he was raised as a kitten (impressive navigation). I searched in the area and teased him out from the undergrowth with his favourite food: king prawns.
  5. The other common occasions when domestic cats go missing are while their owners are on holiday (10%), when they adopt another cat (9%), when they renovate their home (9%), when packing to move home (8%), after they have had a new baby (8%) and when visiting the veterinarian (8%).
  6. The above figures are startling. They show that having a baby can lead to the loss of your cat!
  7. 41% of people who say that their cat has gone missing also say that their cat turned up later on. That means 49% can’t say that!
  8. Missing cats normally stay within quite a small range around their home so people who have lost their cat should focus on an area around their home with a radius of about 500 yards (this is my comment based on previous research).
  9. 16% of lost cats end up trapped in a shed or outbuilding.
  10. Male domestic cats are 60% more active on average than female domestic cats. This is based on GPS data of cats wandering around outside.
  11. 61% of loss cats are male cats.
  12. Male cat spend five hours per day being active while females spend three hours per day being active on average. Comment: a contributory reason why male cats are more likely to go AWOL.
  13. Male cats travel further away from the home when let outdoors than females.
  14. Male cats, on average, burn 19% more calories than female cats because they are more active.
  15. The researchers decided that one particular male cat visiting local residents burnt 315-330 calories during his daily routines.
  16. Female cats sleep 20% more than male cats.
  17. Females are calm for 10% more time than males.
  18. The above information concludes that if you want a cat to get lost less often and who is calmer and less active you should adopt a female cat. Yes, it makes sense.
  19. Rural and urban cats travel similar distances.
  20. Domestic cats aged 10+ years spent 10% less time being active than their younger counterparts.
  21. These older cats burn 4% fewer calories than younger cats. Comment: that’s why they need a diet to prevent weight gain.
  22. Senior cats sleep for about 8% more time on average than non-senior cats.
  23. When cats get older, they become calmer.
  24. Older cats spend about 214 minutes per day in a calm state while younger cats spend 157 minutes in this state.
  25. When a domestic cat goes missing, most often they go missing for between 2-7 days.
  26. 6% of cat owners reported that their cat disappeared for more than three months.
  27. 8% of cat owners reported that their cat never returned.
  28. Comment: many of these will have died on the roads and their owner will never know what happened to them.
  29. 9% reported their cat was missing for fewer than two days.
  30. 34% said their cat was missing between 2-7 days
  31. 19% said their cat was missing between 7-14 days.
  32. 14% that their cat was missing between 2-4 weeks.
  33. 10% said their cat went missing for between 1-3 months.
  34. 6% said the cat went missing for more than three months.
  35. And, as mentioned, 8% said their cat never returned.
  36. The survey tried to break down the type of cat that went missing but they got themselves mixed up because they have merged “domestic shorthair” with “moggy” and “mixed breed”. These are all the same type of cat.
  37. 201 Maine Coon cats went missing over the period of the survey.
  38. 489 Bengal cats went missing.
  39. 131 Persian cats went missing. Comment: note the lower number of Persians because they are less adventurous. I am surprised that their owners let them go outside unsupervised or unconfined.
  40. 72% of cats reported missing were of a single colour such as black, white or grey which indicates that they are less noticeable to people who might help find them and report the missing. Black cats are most likely to go missing.
Difference between male and female cats in terms of distance travelled from home
Difference between male and female cats in terms of distance travelled from home. Image: Admiral Insurance.

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