Springtime Cat Wanderlust

Springtime Cat Wanderlust


Pet cats are especially attuned to spring. They respond to warmer temperatures and longer days in instinctual yearnings to wander, seek prey, mate, and sleep less than the usual sixteen to twenty hours a day they do in winter. It becomes urgent during these times to keep your cat indoors for several reasons.

First, even though your cat may be (and should be) spayed or neutered, restlessness to seek out other cat company will remain. Loose to roam, many cats infringe on other cat territories and end up in conflicts which result in expensive veterinary visits.

Wandering can also make your cat vulnerable to predatory animals such as dogs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Birds of prey (red-tail hawks and owls) can take a cat quickly, even if they are within feet of their helpless human. Owls have been proven to be the only truly silent bird flyer and no potential prey can escape their deadly drop out of the sky.

Most cat diseases are airborne and your cat need not come in contact with a sick cat to catch many of the complicated and often fatal illnesses that attack even the strongest feline immune system

Cats often become lost when chased or through exploratory roaming. Contrary to common beliefs, cats do not scent their way home. When lost, they find hiding places and hunker down until they die of dehydration, starvation, hypothermia, or until found and dispatched by a predator.

Vehicular traffic is a common cause of injury and death to cats. When frightened by what seems to be a large threat, cats freeze to avoid detection—an instant death sentence in the path of an on-coming vehicle. Because cats become more nocturnal when weather warms, they are difficult for drivers to see after dark. Their small stature renders them invisible under headlights that shine above their crouched level.

Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people in your cat’s world as well. Every mass murderer in history began their sadism by cruel mistreatment of animals. All start on cats and escalate to larger animals and then to people. This phenomena has been well-documented and is called “The Link” in law-enforcement and humane organizations. It is easy to find stories of how “normal” such people appeared before they were apprehended following a heinous crime perpetrated upon a human. Do not take it for granted that your cat is safe around people.

Even if your cat survives potential lethal threats, she may become the threat. Thousands of songbirds are killed by house cats each year. The peak time for endangerment is when fledglings begin to fly. They frequently land on the ground after an initial effort to leave their nest and parent birds will continue to feed them until they learn to fly into higher branches for safety. If your cat is out and watching the helpless babies, the parents are unable to protect them. Even the most staid, sleepy cat can become an aggressive stalker when primitive instincts motivate behavior.

Responsible cat caretakers keep their pets indoors where they remain safe, healthy, and affectionate. Wandering outdoors brings out wild behaviors and lessons your cat’s attention on you. Responsible and loving care involves protecting the vulnerable, especially when they do not know they are vulnerable. There is no biological reason that pet cats need time outside; both physical and psychological enrichment can be accomplished in your house–with you.




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Sunny has over 25 years’ experience in pet rescue, humane education, shelter & sanctuary work, service dog training, obedience competition, dog & cat fostering, pet medical care, horse ground training and has authored articles and books in several fields.

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One Response

  1. Ahmed Sadek Yousuf
    | Reply

    Hi there,

    I would like to ask a question, I have a young male cat (1 year 4 months old) and it hasn’t been neutered yet, so every other day he went out and came back after 1 – 2 day intervals. However on June 12 he was hit by a running car which thankfully only left him only with no significant injuries (apart from a tilted head, from which he was steadily recovering). Nevertheless since then he’s been kept at home (often forcefully, as he’d make a dash to go outside every now and then but swiftly brought back in), as he was nurtured back to good health. However in last few days he was getting extremely restless and used to shout a lot to get out hence on June 8 around 11pm or at 12 am we let him go outside thinking he’d be back at very least next morning or the day after maybe. However, it is currently (July 11th), third day since he’s been out, and he has yet to be back. I have searched for him in vicinity, but to no avail.

    My question is that is it likely that given the cat was literally forcefully kept inside for almost a month, now that he went out, is it likely that in his first significant outing in a while, will he take his time before returning, considering from what I know this time is the ideal time for ‘wanderlust’ and sexual urges to surface in male cats? Furthermore, I also fear that given he’s been reared on only cat food, in his extended stint outside, he may go hungry.

    And ah, if I may ask, given that he wears a collar at all times, is it likely that he may be stoken?

    I’m sorry for this long post but of late I’ve been getting distressed over what had happened to him, and hence am (desperately) seeking for answers.

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