We all know that sometimes domestic cats just wander away from their home. Cats get lost but it is not always because they’ve been stuck in a shed or transported away from their home by a van into which they’d climbed. Sometimes they just wander off which tells us that, depending upon the cat’s character, they can have quite a loose relationship with their owner. It’s quite strange because humans often want to have a strong connection with their cat but sometimes it isn’t reciprocated. It’s just the nature of the domestic cat and nothing to do with the behaviour of the person.
It’s the wild cat trait inside of her which allows her to behave in a solitary way, being content with her own company and not needing necessarily the company of a human. That said, when these cats are reunited with their human it’s as if they realise what they’ve been missing. When a cat wanders away from the home it appears sometimes to be a misjudgement; and almost casual misjudgement and they don’t know what they’re getting into.
When these wandering cats end up many miles away from their home, living as stray cats in quite a difficult environment, they immediately recognise their owner when they are reunited. They might have left their home several years ago but they recognise the sound of their owner’s voice and their appearance. They purr excitedly and can settle back into home life quickly, sometimes as if they’ve never left. Over the intervening years they often become emaciated and their health suffers. But they are there by choice.
It’s a very fluid mindset. A story today on the Internet illustrates this. Maddie, in Scotland, appears to have wandered from her home about two and a half years ago and ended up at a stable about 6 miles away. Workers on the farm near Aberdeen noticed her and when a veterinarian visited, they ask whether they had a microchip scanner. They did and they scanned Maddie to find that she had an owner. But she had been at the stables for about two years presumably being fed by the farmworkers and no doubt she had fed herself on mice. Stables are pretty good places for stray cats: they get on with horses and there is warmth.
Debbie Carver is Maddie’s owner and she had pretty well given up seeing Maddie again and so she was stunned when she was told that she had been found. She travelled to the stables with her husband and daughter to collect Maddie. Maddie instantly recognised her which somewhat surprised Debbie. She said: “They thought she was going to be very wary of me, the Cats Protection guy thought she wouldn’t know me after two and a half years. I just went into the room and shouted her name and she came running over, circling round my legs meowing.”
Debbie has put Maddie into isolation in her home to get her used to her surroundings again. I don’t think she needed to do that because cats have good long-term memories. The Cat Protection guy was wrong. Cats will remember their owners after an indefinite time in my opinion. It can be far longer than two or three years.
The story is an illustration of the mentality of the domestic cat. Each has their own individual character. Some are wedded to their home life and would never dream of leaving it. Others are more adventurous and more loosely connected at an emotional level to their owner. They feel they can live anywhere. They feel that they don’t need to live like a domestic cat. It is their wild cat coming out and motivating them to behave as they do.
P.S. Newsweek have an article published today on the Internet in which they say there are 25 loyal cat breeds. This I think is incorrect. If you want to discuss the loyalty of the domestic cat you have to drill down to individual cats and their personalities. It isn’t about cat breeds but about individuals. You can’t ball together all the cats of one breed such as Maine Coons and say that all Maine Coons are loyal. I don’t think that that is plausible.
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