Categories: stray cat

Why do stray cats come to my house?

Genuine stray cats come to your house because (1) they are domesticated cats who have become unwanted or lost and are looking for food and shelter and (2) your house may present to cats as one which is friendly. There may be several reasons for giving stray cats this impression and cats will pick up on these signals and favour your house as a result. Or (3) they have tried several houses in the neighbourhood and yours is one of them. You think you are the only one but you’re not.

Stray cat decided front porch was her new home. Photo: Reddit.

Friendly house

The reasons that I’ve given are common sense. They are obvious reasons and I don’t believe that there can be no other fundamental reasons. I’m reminded of Sarah Hartwell, a colleague of mine who runs the website. I visited her at her home. At the time she had a couple of cats that she was looking after and who became her companions. She told me that all the cats that she has adopted have come to her. They arrive from somewhere in her neighbourhood and she takes them in.

She has no need to go anywhere to make arrangements to adopt them. It’s as if stray cats in her area know that she is the kind of person who will take cats in and look after them. It’s as if the good news is on the feline grapevine, a kind of cat network whereby they talk to each other and pass on the info. I’m not suggesting that this actually happens but Sarah is a cat person and the cats have learnt it.

It is more about a cat sensing that a home is not going to be hostile where they will be shooed away. So what are these signals? It may be that the person who asks, “Why do stray cats come to my house?” is the kind of person who goes up to stray cats and makes warm noises towards them and perhaps give them a stroke and then moves on. This cat may then, later on, turn up at her house. There’s nothing magical about it. Or the person feeds stray cats.

However, the most likely scenario is possibly the suck it and see process:

Hit and miss

Cats will try things out in part because they are so inquisitive. So the person who thinks that stray cats always come to her house and no other is quite possibly misleading themselves. Stray cats probably go to several houses in the street and all the other houses reject her or are unsuitable. When they arrive at a house where they are accepted it gives the resident the impression that they have been selected. Or if they are not accepted the resident might still have the false impression that there is something about their house which attracts stray cats.

Stray cats are opportunists. They are opportunist hunters and this process is one removed from hunting. Stray cats are looking for a home with someone to feed them primarily. They take a chance. Somewhere along a row of homes they might find success and ingratiate themselves into the home to become a full-time, loved resident a. A forever home. Stray cats are socialised to live with people so they have instinct to find a home. It comes naturally to them.

P.S. Domestic cats who are well looked after in a decent home may also go to a neighbour’s home. They are not strays. They are timeshare cats.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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