Why do cats visit other homes and people if they have an owner who cares for them?

Why do cats visit other houses and people if they have an owner who cares for them? It's because of the wildcat nature.

The answer to the question in the title can be found in the domestic cat’s inherited character. Each domestic cat has their own “home range”. This is the territory that they call their space in much the same way that people call their apartment or their house their home. And a domestic cat’s home range might cover several houses both left and right and in front and behind the home they occupy. In other words, their home range encompasses the homes of neighbours.

The extent of their home range depends to a certain extent on whether this is a male or female cat. Male cats have larger home ranges than female cats. Some female cats might be happy to stay inside the home even if allowed outside. This difference between males and females is replicated among the wild cat species.

And cats don’t regard neighbours’ homes as necessarily out of bounds. They might be reluctant to enter into the gardens and even more reluctant to enter neighbours’ homes because they are strange places and inside these homes there will be a strange person or persons. This spells danger.

But if a cat is confident and if their home range is sufficiently large, perhaps as large as 20 acres or more, they may enter a neighbour’s home and they will certainly enter different gardens adjoining their own home.

Domestic cats don’t see any difference between the homes and gardens of neighbours and their home in the way that humans do. Humans have the law of trespass. We can’t just walk onto someone’s property without asking them first. Cats cannot be prosecuted for trespass!

They don’t understand the concept of human boundaries, borders, fences, brick walls and even internal doors. It’s all one area to them with some barriers to overcome. These are all human artifacts not present in nature.

If you combine that attitude with the fact that cats are known for their independent nature and their tendency to explore and visit other houses because they are inquisitive, you can see how domestic cats end up visiting other houses and people even when their caregiver provides for them very well.

This is not really a question about how good or bad their caregiver is in discharging their duties, this is about the cat’s inherent nature. And when they are outside, they become a wildcat again governed by their instincts.

Their inquisitiveness extends to new smells, sounds and environments. They like to investigate these places beyond their territory. Or they might know of a good source of mice under a neighbour’s garden shed.

Some cats are confident enough to go up to strange people and interact with them because it pleases them and is mentally stimulating. Some cats simply enjoy the company of humans and other animals. They may seek out social interactions, which may particularly apply if their owner is not around that much or does not satisfy them in terms of mental stimulation.

If a neighbour is particularly kind and they’ve noticed a cat coming around they might put food down. The food might be better than the food that they receive from their owner. This would be a productive and welcome spin-off for the cat as a result of their explorations.

They will return to that home. Sometimes, rarely, domestic cats will transfer their allegiances from their owner to a neighbour because they can detect that life will be better there. They arrive and they stay.

Cats are opportunistic and they will look for food and resources instinctively. Even when they are really well fed, they might seek cat food at a neighbour’s. It’s more likely they will seek out better food or food they prefer.

But the underlying issue is really about their territory and their inquisitiveness. And sometimes cats might want to expand their home range slightly as they become more confident which will mean they “trespass” more often on neighbours’ properties.

To turn the question around and point it at the cat’s owner, it is their duty to provide as good an environment as possible in terms of mental and physical stimulation, safety, security and high-quality food. And this includes plenty of interactions between cat and owner.

Sometimes people think that cats are so independent they don’t need interactions with people. This is a fallacy. They need their caregiver around and they need to interact with them on a regular basis. A failure in this area may push the cat away.

Depending on the cat’s personality, some might like to have another cat as an ‘associate’ or friend. Some cats are more content if they live with another cat or are able to meet up with another cat. By and large that might be an exception because particularly male cats tend to want to occupy their home range exclusively for themselves.

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Hair bobbles (hair ties) are dangerous to cats as too often they like to ingest them

I’ve decided after a quick search on the Internet to declare to the world that hair bobbles are very dangerous objects from the domestic cat’s point of view. It’s a product which is very useful to humans but a product which is very dangerous to cats. A clash of two different worlds. This kind of cash happens quite a lot actually because of the entirely different culture between these two species. For instance, humans normally like to keep their homes clean and tidy. But in “our urge to cleanse and control our world we have, for cats, often unwittingly polluted it” (Desmond Morris).

Nero and Lucy the vet who removed the hair ties. Eleven in all with an endoscope. Image: Westway Veterinary Group.
Nero and Lucy the vet who removed the hair ties. Eleven in all with an endoscope. Image: Westway Veterinary Group.

Don’t know it is happening

There are a lot of stories of domestic cat eating a lot of hair bobbles, sometimes up to 30. The owner will find out when the cat begins to feel and be sick and lethargic and clearly show signs of illness but until then they may go on gobbling a woman’s hair ties for months without the owner being aware of it.

Removal

There are two ways to get them out of the stomach after they’ve been discovered through an x-ray and/or ultrasound. The cat can undergo proper surgery which is dangerous. That’s a story on the Internet of a cat that ate 31 hair bobbles and had surgery but died as a result of the surgery. Not only is the surgery dangerous but also the general anesthetic. That can blind, cause brain damage or kill a cat.

Nero’s 11

There’s another more optimistic story on the Internet right now of a domestic cat called Nero who swallowed 11 elastic air bubbles. He lives in the UK and he became sick as expected and started to vomit. The owner took him to the vets and they managed to remove every single one of them using an endoscope.

They performed an ultrasound scan to see them and they were all gathered in a clump in the stomach.

Endoscope

An endoscope is a long plastic tube with a device on the end of which can be various devices such as a camera and/or a grabber which can be operated at the other end.

The cat is sedated or anaesthetised and the endoscope is passed down their gullet into the stomach. The endoscope had a camera and a grabber on the end in this instance. In that way the veterinarian can see what they’re doing.

Nero’s operation took 90 minutes and his owner, Lucy said that she “couldn’t quite believe that he had swallowed so many had ties in total, but they just kept coming out!” I bet he had a sore throat after the operation.

Common hazard

Hair ties are a common hazard in the home (click the link under the image above for more on hazards). I think they are actually very dangerous and cat owners should be incredibly careful with them. Cats find them attractive to eat. It must be the smell of them which makes them smell like food. And cats are instinctively inquisitive with a desire to put stuff in their mouths, chew and swallow. Pica may be a cause which is eating non-nutritious/non-edible objects.

Some cats are very good at digging around in half open drawers and other storage places while their owner is away or doing something else. And they can return to the same place and eat a hair tie each time until they are thoroughly sick and it might be too late by that time.

Because an endoscope was used to recover them, Nero was able to go home on the day he was brought to the vets for the operation. It is a minimally invasive operation. But they can be deadly. One of many hazards around and inside the home.

General home hazards

The more I read about the dangers of the human home from the cat’s perspective the more I realise that one has to be very careful. And sometimes the damage can be done without any knowledge whatsoever by the cat caregiver. In this instance I’m referring to chemicals around the home such as cleaning chemicals and carpet chemicals or furniture chemicals such as fire retardants et cetera. They can insidiously poison a cat damaging the endocrine system leading to hypothyroidism for example.

Methacrylate in nail polish is a potential hazard to cats

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A slightly injured bridge of a domestic cat’s nose is not unusual (picture)

I think this is mildly instructional as many domestic cats suffer minor injuries to the bridge of their nose. Domestic cats are inquisitive. They like to sniff objects to discover what they are. They like to force their head into small spaces sometimes as part of this inquisitive behaviour. This can only result in one potential; a scratched nose or a minor injury.

Cats nose slightly injured
Cats nose slightly injured. Image: Reddit user: u/Affairs_Of_The_Butt.

When I first fostered my cat as a young kitten, he was a full-time indoor cat. When he became a young adult he wanted to get out. The windows were old-fashioned with a latch. They were single-glazed and they swung upwards. He lifted up the latch and forced his nose under the window and wriggled out. This was a heavy window. He scratched his nose. No surprise there.

The point is made. Cats’ noses do take a bit of a hit sometimes. I am not a vet but there is nothing to worry about when this happens. However, my motto for injuries and infections which don’t look too bad with which the cat coping well is to watch and wait. See how things develop. But do it with vigilance and regularity. Prompt action may be demanded.

Any sign of things going wrong, take her to the vet quickly. If things clear up; fine. The health scare is over.

The picture on this page prompted this short post. The Reddit user and owner writes:

“I returned home from vacation a week ago, and noticed my cat has a dark discoloration of some sort on the bridged of her nose. I was gone for 2 weeks, so I have no idea what happened. Appetite, bathroom, socialization habits are all normal. Anyone have any similar experiences? Thanks in advance!”

It looks like his/her cat, being alone from their human caregiver, behaved a little recklessly. Perhaps she was agitated at the loss her human companion. Her behaviour was a little rash and her nose was injured. I am guessing of course.

Below are some more articles on injuries.

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3 reasons why some cats like to jump into fridges

I believe that we can dispense with one possible reason why a cat might like to jump into a fridge when the door is opened and that is because it’s cold. It would be highly unlikely if a domestic cat likes to jump into the fridge to keep cool or to cool down if the room temperature is about 70°F (around 21°C). It is possible if the cat is overheating for a reason; perhaps because he has a mild fever. I am speculating but there are far more likely reasons. The 3 reasons are: hidey hole (reassurance and security), smells and inquisitiveness.

This tabby cat always jumps into fridge when it is opened
This tabby cat always jumps into fridge when it is opened. Photo: u/irisvent on Reddit.com.

Firstly, fridges are quite compact ‘cupboards’ and inside this chilled ‘cupboard’ are interesting things. Cats instinctively like to jump into small enclosed areas to explore them. It is part of their nature as they are very inquisitive. This can, rarely, lead to emergencies.

So, the first reason would be their natural inquisitiveness. If they are exploring the interior of a fridge, I don’t think that they will feel the cold at least for quite a while. Fridges are set to about 4°C which would be a cold winter day in the UK. Domestic cats can roam around under those sort of temperatures for quite a long time without really being bothered about it.

Therefore, if a cat wanted to jump into a fridge because of their inquisitiveness, they might just sit there for a while enjoying the enclosed space and perhaps the sense of security that it provided.

Another reason would be the smell inside a fridge. There may be something in the fridge, even if it’s in a closed container, which emits a scent which interests a cat. In fact, arguably, a cat’s inquisitiveness is more often motivated by interesting smells than interesting sights.

And as a fridge is full of food, it is likely to have interesting smells. I know that my fridge pretty well always smells of something.

And thirdly, a point that I have touched on above, fridges are compact spaces which cats like to get into for a sense of security. On a slightly different topic, I happened to have some catnip tightly wrapped up in kitchen foil in one cupboard in my kitchen. It is well wrapped up but despite that and despite the fact that the cupboard is chock-a-block full of cat food, he jumps into it every time I open the door. And it’s not just about the catnip. It’s the smells of the cat food and the ‘hidey hole’ nature of the cupboard.

When he gets to the back of the cupboard, he is hidden by the boxes of cat food which he enjoys. And in the photograph on this page, we see this person’s cat at the back of the fridge partly hidden by the food.

To some domestic cats, the fridge is very enticing, so much so that they learn how to open it. You may have seen the videos where smart domestic cats remarkably learn to get into a fridge. It’s difficult to do for a cat but they are well motivated. Under these circumstances it is probably a tasty treat inside the fridge, being chilled before the next serving, which drives them to try and get in. Cats learn to open the door by observing their human caregiver and copying. Their athleticism helps.

Below are some articles on supposedly ‘strange cat behavior’.

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Do cats like snow? Yes and No.

I’m asking whether domestic cats like snow. There must be two factors which influence the answer, namely whether an individual domestic cat has seen snow before or often and secondly the character of that individual cat.

Domestic cats are inquisitive. If they’ve not seen snow before, when it falls it’s going to be at least potentially interesting to a domestic cat. If the cat is a full-time indoor cat, they will certainly be looking at the snow falling from the window. If they can go outside, they may well enjoy playing around with the snow as it falls. They might see the snowflakes as prey animals e.g., an insect and try and swat them. Cats instinctively react to movement like this from small objects.

But set against this natural interest in snow will be the obvious fact that it is cold. Domestic cats like warmth. This is their North African wildcat inheritance which may make it a little less pleasant to be out in the snow. However, cats have a high tolerance level for extremes of temperature in my opinion.

Cats tolerate the cold well. They might not like it but they accept it, if they have to. I would argue that domestic cats are more accepting of uncomfortable conditions than humans. This may be to do with intelligence. If humans feel uncomfortable in unpleasant environmental conditions, they will vocalise that discomfort and use their best efforts to get out of it if they can. It’s a rational mental process.

RELATED: Highest-living mammalian predators on land: snow leopard and puma

Cats, on the other hand, tend to put up with it. However, if they are indoor/outdoor cat they will understand that they can go inside to escape the unpleasantness. Cats will probably be distracted from the potential uncomfortableness of the cold by their interest in the snow.

We know that domestic cats have their own personalities within normal feline behaviour. Some cats will like being in the snow and others won’t. It’s about the straightforward and simple as that. I’ve seen many videos and photographs of domestic cats thoroughly enjoying being in snow, sometimes deep snow. In fact, my general impression is that if you took 100 domestic cat in a study and tested whether they liked snow or disliked it, you would find that substantially more than 50% liked it.

This is probably because it’s interesting and stimulating. It might be the novelty of it or the simple and natural inherited response by domestic cats to movement combined with their natural inquisitiveness.

I have a page on the wild cats that live in snow, or might on occasions be obliged to live in snowy landscapes. You might like to read about that by clicking on this link.

It may surprise some people to know that the Bengal tiger which we so often see keeping cool in rivers because they live in such hot climates, also live on the lower slopes of the Himalayas in Bhutan. And of course, the Siberian tiger lives in very cold temperatures. Cats in general can tolerate low temperatures.

RELATED: Can tigers live in the cold?

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Cat scratches washing machine glass while clothes whirl around

The title is a bit silly, really, but it is taken, more or less, direct from the website holding the video (Daily Motion). First, I’d doubt that the cat is scratching the ‘glass’ and I don’t believe it is glass but some sort of strong glass substitute. If fact I don’t believe that the cat has her claws out (protruded). She wants to play with the moving objects inside the washing machine as they swirl around. Perfectly normal and really to be expected as cats are stimulated by this sort of stuff.

Also, I think the cat wants to get into the washing machine. I have seen this sort of repetitious foreleg movements against ‘glass’ before. It normally means that a cat wants to get inside a home as they are locked out.

Anyway, it is quite a nice video for the fact that it shows us a bit of feline behaviour which is quite interesting. It is the first time I have seen this particular type of cat behaviour. It is welcome relief from the usual washing machine/cat video. Either cats are enjoying the cosiness of the smelly clothes in a washing machine to make a bed or, on one notorious occasion, the pretty owner of one pretty cat put her cat inside the machine and turned it on. Yes, the cat died and she filmed the whole damnable thing. She is as mad as a fruitcake. She needs to be caught and punished but she has not been to the best of my knowledge.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Cat wants to play with the swirling contents of a washing machine or get inside the machine to investigate
Cat wants to play with the swirling contents of a washing machine or get inside the machine to investigate. Screenshot.

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