Do cats get lost in storms?

People ask if cats can get lost in snow or the dark or in the rain or woods. They hardly ever get lost under these conditions but they can get lost in storms.

I guess it has to be a strong storm though. The storms we have in the UK are never strong enough to cause an outdoor cat to get lost.

However, in America the storms can be strong enough to cause lots of cats to become confused and lost. This is exactly what happened in the city of Martinez in the San Francisco area of California.

Contra Costa County Animal Services shelter
Contra Costa County Animal Services shelter. This looks like a very nice place. The picture shows Emily Vickers. Photo: D. ROSS CAMERON, Special To The San Francisco Chronicle
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Animal shelter staff in Contra Costa County found themselves dealing with an influx of lost pets including of course cats on Monday and Tuesday last week when a storm hit the area blowing down fences et cetera.

Forty-one animals were brought to the Contra Cosa County Animal Services shelter on Tuesday. None of them were microchipped. The shelter can house more than 400 animals. A huge place and it is near capacity.

There are two interesting points. Firstly how and why do cats and other pets become lost in a storm? I find it a bit strange. I can’t answer for dogs but the answer must be that outdoor cats become confused because the area they know visually and through scent markers becomes alien to them as the markers are washed and blown away. They become disoriented and eventually lost. Cats will also become anxious and frightened. This is likely to contribute to becoming lost.

The second interesting point is that a good percentage of cat owners are (a) not microchipping their cats and (b) are letting them go outside in a storm. This is a combination of factors which can lead to losing their cat permanently.

Fortunately for others these are opportunities to adopt great cat companions. The shelter has had great success in attracting interest in people wishing to adopt.

With other storms likely the shelter is putting out a call to the community to come down and adopt as they are near capacity at present as mentioned. They have what they call a good “release rate” meaning rehoming as opposed to euthanasia and they want to keep it that way.

Three-quarters (75%) of animals were rehomed in 2015 compared to 46 per cent in 2011. The moral is obvious: keep cats inside in storms and ensure that they are identifiable either through microchipping or a tattoo marker. Collars can also be acceptable if they are the quick release type.

2 thoughts on “Do cats get lost in storms?”

  1. Albert, sorry about the comment from Perkins. He is Woody a well known troll. I have deleted his comment. Many thanks again for your excellent comment. You did a great, caring job and so good that he came back.

  2. I’ve thought about this often, more so how they find their way at all. I lost my cat, Buddy when I was foolish enough once to take him for a ride to the store about a quarter mile away. He bolted out the door when I opened it, ran across a nearby boulevard and over a fence topped by barbed wire. That area was/is a Naval base and I could not gain entry to search for him. Nightly, I walked the distance from our home to the base along a bike path. I went to the area with a small ladder and called for him every night between midnight and 2 am. (Why I wasn’t arrested or even questioned I don’t know, esp as officers lived in the homes near that wall.). I even brought and lowered a humane trap to that side of the wall and only caught an opossum. Again, not arrested BION. I had the idea of balling up my dirty socks (scent) and dropping them along the route. After 3 weeks I heard him at our door. I was so happy and we were so much closer after that. I give him all the credit, as I suspect cats leave diminishing scent marks in concentric circles the farther they explore from home, so as they continue to wander or if they “get lost”, they make a mental note of increased number of markers, closer together) that they detect as they travel in the direction of home. I haven’t read this anywhere but I bet it’s true. Since then I’ve micro chipped all my cats and followed them around to see where they go, so I know what directions to call or look for them.


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