Categories: indoor outdoor cats

Outdoor domestic cats generally wander fairly close to home

ABC News San Diego have commented on an Australian survey of outdoor domestic cat wanderings and their conclusion is incorrect in my opinion. They say that domestic cats wander up to 2 miles and you should keep them inside at night.

GPS tracked outdoor domestic cat shows how far they wander from home

Yes, depending on the terrain and the cat’s character some cats might wander 2 miles. I’ve met a cat who did that where I used to live in London. But these are the exception for domestic cats in my honest opinion.

In general, the wanderings of outside domestic cats are limited to areas not that far from their human caretaker’s home. You could say with some confidence that your cat is no more than about 400 yards from the back door at a maximum and normally she’ll be within 100 yards or less of the home.

Typical domestic cat urban activity outside the home when freely wandering.

Also it is worth mentioning that in the world of the wild cats, no matter what the species, the male wanders further than the female and they have larger home ranges (the area they call theirs) than the females.

In these GPS tracks, the individual cat that has wandered up to 2 miles from home is probably a confident male ginger tabby and the terrain looks more suited for longer wanderings as it is semi-urban. He is not that typical in my opinion. But, yes, we have to admit that some domestic cats do that regularly.

This wandering cat travels quite far from home because he is confident and probably male and the terrain allows it.

The reason why I am mentioning this again is because when cats become lost you can be fairly sure that, typically, they are not very far away unless they’ve accidentally caught a ride to somewhere. There are some extraordinary stories of cats stuck in lorries who end up over 1,000 miles from home. They’ve not walked to this remote place. They’ve jumped onto a vehicle and the vehicle has been driven there.

Like all wild cat species, domestic and feral cats have home ranges. The area of these home ranges depends on the species of cat and the cat’s size. Looking at records of the movements of North African wildcats, the ancestor of the current domestic cat, in Kenya a radio-tagged adult occupied a 1.6 square kilometres area as his home range (source: Wild Cats of the World). This means a range which is about a mile in length and 0.6 of a mile in width. This is larger than that of the average domestic cat but it does match up roughly with the ginger tabby I mentioned above. This is because wildcats are (a) wild and have to roam to find prey and (b) they don’t live in an urban environment. You’ll find that feral cats in the Australian outback have much larger home ranges than domestic cats. They are similar to their wild cat ancestor.


Lost cat returned to former home 20 miles away and waited 7 years for owner to come

Sheppey, UK: Seven years ago John and Jude Kinloch moved home from Gillingham to Sheppey, Kent, UK. After their move ...
Read More

Why this cat ended up living on a scrapyard and not in his warm friendly home

This is an example of a domestic cat trying to return to his home range (the territory that he feels ...
Read More

Fighting cats fall off roof and dog attacks one of them on ground

This the typical outcome of territorial outside cats. They like high plays so they like to be on roofs but ...
Read More

Video of Canada lynx in verbal duel

The news media have described this as caterwauling but I would not call it that because strictly speaking caterwauling is ...
Read More

Cat sprays urine over a $3,000 designer gown at fashion show

I have guessed the price of the gown but it is probably about right. Wait until the last second of ...
Read More

Don’t sanitize your cat’s litter box by cleaning it too often

People ask, how often should I clean the cat litter box? This leads me to questions of territorial markers to ...
Read More

Two Canada lynx cats mock ‘head butt’ aggressively over territorial rights

In this interesting video, two Canada lynx cats are in a close encounter standoff over territory - a home range ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

Recent Posts

Grave situation of coronavirus infection is karma for China’s abuse of animals at Wuhan live animal market

Horrifying and stomach-churning images are emerging from the live animal market in Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus infection which…

5 hours ago

Why do cats bury their poop?

I believe that the question refers to domestic cats so I'll confine my answer to that species of cat although…

10 hours ago

Turkish butcher becomes tourist attraction as he feeds cats and dogs

Turgutlu, Turkey - news/opinion article: Ikram Korkmazer's butcher's shop has become a tourist attraction after three years of feeding stray…

19 hours ago

Massachusetts fire department called to Cape Cod home to rescue cat stuck in a wall

A Massachusetts fire department was called to a home on Thursday to perform what they described as a 'technical rescue…

1 day ago

Is cat spraying the same as urinating?

No, cat spraying is not the same as urinating. They have different purposes. The purpose of urinating is to eliminate…

1 day ago

Picture of man who denies killing nine cats and injuring seven

Brighton, Kent, UK: This is Steven Bouquet, 53, a security guard who has been charged with criminal damage in relation…

1 day ago