Do you wonder what your cat does when he or she goes outside the house? Of course I’m talking about indoor/outdoor cats of which there are still many millions in America where cats or often kept indoors permanently. In Europe the default situation is that cats are allowed outside. I wonder whether people actually worry about what their cat is up to. If they don’t worry they should be worried and I’m not talking about the usual dangers such as road traffic in this instance.
I’m talking about a cat making friends with another family and then gradually that family may take over ownership. It doesn’t seem to matter whether a person is a good cat caretaker or not. Some cats just like to wander and visit other households and when they do so they get to know the members of that household and become friends with them and then secretly to the cat’s owner, their cat has two caretakers.
Sometimes you can tell if your cat has adopted another woman a part-time caretaker because you can smell her perfume on your cat’s fur when she returns. The unknown woman will have petted your cat and quite possibly and almost certainly fed your cat and in doing so, if she wears perfume, deposited it on your cat’s coat whereupon it is quite noticeable when you bury your head in your cat’s fur as a lot of people like to do. That should concern you because you might be in the process of losing your cat, not by anything that you have done particularly but simply because it is the way of the independent-minded domestic cat.
In this recent story, one such cat who visited a neighbour for food and comfort returned to her legal owner with a note attached. I’m not sure how the note was attached to this cat but it was and you can see that it explains that she is much loved in the other household where she is petted and fed. She is quite choosy in the food she likes. In fact her part-time “owner” wrote:
“I don’t know who this cat belongs to but she comes visits us every few weeks. She will meow outside our back door until we let her in, she winds itself around our legs, walks around the house like it’s hers, waits at the fridge until my husband or I feed her baloney [sic]. She doesn’t like just cat food very much! We look forward to her visits. We lost our 21-year-old cat this year.”
What about my cat? I don’t know where he visits and it concerns me quite a lot. It creates a conflict in me as to whether I should let it outside or not. I don’t think that he goes far. How do I know that? One indicator is that when I come home and am at the kitchen sink which faces onto the back garden, he sometimes comes inside because he has seen me. Also, near my apartment are some garages within the complex and I think he hunts mice in and around the garages which I am presuming is about as far as he goes. However, a presumption isn’t really good enough when it comes to a cat’s safety.
In general, the urban domestic cat does not travel that far because their area of operation or their home territory is, by wild cat species standards, relatively small. It might be no more than 1 acre perhaps to 5 acres or so. In Australia, feral cats have huge home territories amounting to perhaps several square kilometres but that is an entirely different kettle of fish.
In January 2015 this website reported on a Cat Tracker Project which took place in America in order to find out where cats went when they went outside. The cats are fitted with GPS collars. And in the UK and excellent study helps us to understand how far cats do. If people lose their cat they should look nearby. It sounds obvious but the chances are she has not gone far.
The moral of this article is that people should be concerned about their cat sharing time with a neighbour. Would that concern you? It would certainly concern me. It would embarrass me, in fact. It would make me feel as if I had not done my duty with respect to caring for my cat. Perhaps that sentiment would be inaccurate but it would be a feeling that I would have. Sometimes I sniff my cat to see whether I can smell perfume! So far I haven’t 😉 .