Do Cats Disappear? 13 Facts On Why, When, How Long


One of the biggest concerns every cat parents tend to have is what if their furbabies run away? What if they disappear and never come back? This fear of them is not completely invalid.

According to the data published by Lost Pet Research, at least once every five years, 12 to 18 percent of cats are likely to go missing. Among the lost cats, 65% were found alive, while 34% were never found. The research also revealed that the tendency to disappear is found more among adult cats aged 1-7 years.

We can all see that the percentage of cats going missing is considerable. As a result, we have dedicated this post to deciphering the issue of cats getting disappeared. The article will also look into the possible reasons behind such behavior in cats, along with different scenarios that may act as triggers.

So, we request all cat lovers to stick with us till the end to get answers to the question they may have about the possible disappearance of their pets. 

Why do cats disappear?

Cats tend to run away. Unfortunately, this is a common trait, irrespective of gender, breed, or age. Hence, cat parents often try to decipher why cats disappear.

We must realize that most cases of cats disappearing or escaping are entirely normal for them. Cats are naturally exploratory, and their desire to hunt frequently drives them to go outside.

Do Cats Disappear
Image Credit: Domestic cat by  TiHa (CC BY-SA 2.5) from Wikimedia

Besides their curious nature and intense prey drive, cats can also escape scary situations. Cats would rather flee from any location where they feel uneasy. We should keep in mind that cats are fiercely territorial in this regard. Therefore, if they abruptly vanish from their usual location, something may have caused them to do so. Or perhaps something prevents them from returning.

Felines’ disappearance may also result from them getting trapped by humans and transported elsewhere. Therefore, we must examine various disappearance situations to identify potential causes.

How do cats disappear?

Have you ever pondered on how cats disappear? If not, let’s take a look at the ways.

If indoor cats are considered, we will find most of them disappear due to running away from home. However, in the case of outdoor cats, they can wander farther from their regular territory in search of food or a mating partner. Additionally, sometimes cats can disappear due to humans entrapping them. 

Whatever the ways may be, cats have an acute sense of direction and often tend to come back after a few days of disappearance. But in some cases, where they face restrictions from returning, they may never come back. 

When do cats disappear?

Cats disappearing can be highly distressing for any cat parent. But the only way to prevent cats from disappearing is to understand when cats disappear.

Cats can disappear when they find a better place as a shelter or a good source of food. Sometimes they can also disappear if lured away by humans. In the case of unspayed cats, their mating season can act as triggers for them to run away or disappear. 

Can a cat disappear without a trace?

Image Credit: Domestic cat with a harness by Birhanb (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Cats disappearing is not something very unnatural. But is it possible that a cat can disappear without a trace?

Sometimes, a cat goes missing without a trace for several days. You may never find its trace in your locality despite searching it. But one fine day, it can return on its own.

Why do cats go missing for days?

Your cat might disappear for several reasons. And knowing the reasons that work in your cat’s case can help you stop it from any running away attempt.

Here are a few most likely explanations for why cats might disappear for days. Of course, not every justification will be appropriate for all cats, all the time. Therefore, you should carefully observe your cat’s behavior to discover why it could have a propensity to flee.

Mating Instinct

Your cat will search for potential partners if it is not spayed and is in heat. Therefore, it might leave the house to search for a mate. Cats frequently disappear for many days during the mating season before returning on their own. The mating impulse may encourage your cat to venture outside, but it may also put them in peril if they become trapped, injured, or locked far from home.

Hunting Drive

Cats are predatory by nature. Hence, they can go missing for days if their hunting instincts trigger them. 

New Location

It is not that relevant for fully indoor cats. However, outdoor cats that find a better and safer place to hide or live may go missing for several days. It may also happen that they may never return to their older place. For instance, if you get a new pet at home, your cat might feel it would be suited to relocate to a nicer, quieter location.

Scarred 

A scared cat would most likely be a missing cat. If your cat gets scared off by something, its natural fear response may send it into a fight-or-flight mode. If it goes into flight mode, it could run away for an extended time. 

Sick

It has been noted that sick or hurt cats often prefer to hide in a quiet area far from humans. As a result, if your cat is hurt, it could prefer to stay away from home for a few days until it is ready to come back. That said, you must locate your cat and take it to the vet as quickly as possible if you feel it has been injured or is ill.

Accidentally Misplaced 

Sometimes, somebody might also think a cat is a stray and take it to the local shelter. So, if you find your cat spending too much time outdoors in a different neighborhood, keep track of its activities. Also, make the neighbors aware that it is not a stray cat. 

How long do cats usually go missing?

How long can a missing cat last before being found? Before becoming concerned about your cat or starting a search program, how long should you wait?

Since we cannot confirm a precise timeframe, there is no clear answer to this query. Occasionally, a cat will return within 24-48 hours, but other times, it could take up to a month or longer.

However, it might be possible for you to estimate how long your cat could remain missing. This is because nobody knows your cat as well as you do. Therefore, you are the one who is most likely to speculate about the reasons why your cat might have gone missing. And sometimes, the explanations can help determine how long a cat can remain disappeared.

However, we advise cat owners to start their search procedure as soon as they learn their cat has gone missing. According to studies, cats stay nearer to their home for the first 24 hours after missing. And they gain confidence outdoors; they tend to wander farther. So, the sooner you start searching, the higher the chance of getting your cat back. 

What do cats do when they go missing?

Image Credit: Baby Barn Cats by
Art Anderson
 (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Have you ever considered what cats do when they disappear? How do they spend days and nights? Or do they immediately try to track their way back home? Let’s explore the facts.

If it is an indoor cat, who has never ventured outdoors, the first thing they would do after going missing is finding a place to hide. However, if they are familiar with the area and the place, they will try to run in the same direction and go to the same place they hid before. 

Cats are very smart animals. Therefore, it is most likely that they will stay covert until nightfall when there is less activity. They would then begin their search for food and water. Cats are capable of going without food for a few days. However, it is most likely that they would emerge in quest of food after the initial hiding period of 2-3 days.

A cat will stray further from its home as it becomes more confident in its ability to survive outside. Additionally, male cats will emerge from hiding earlier and go farther than female cats. However, a cat’s temperament would dictate how and what it behaves after going missing.

Do cats disappear when in heat?

If you have cats that are not spayed, you may have noticed a shift in how they behaved when they were in heat. When the cat is in heat, the desire to mate is at its strongest.

A cat would look for a partner while it was in heat so they could mate. It would screech, scream, and even try to flee. In fact, one of the periods, when cats’ propensity to flee increases significantly, is during mating season.

Male cats are known to travel great distances in pursuit of a compatible mate. And once they locate the female, they would wait for the opportunity to mate, even if it meant going days without returning home. The situation is the same when it comes to female cats. To locate their partner, they would pick up the fragrance of male cats’ spray and pursue it.

Do cats disappear when pregnant?

Image Credit: Pregnant feral cat by Sintegral (CC BY-SA 4.0) from Wikimedia

So, your cat is pregnant, and it has gone missing. However, is it normal for cats to disappear when pregnant?

A pregnant cat may be incredibly discreet when it comes to keeping its offspring secure. Therefore, when giving birth, she may flee to a safer and more isolated location to give birth to her kittens.

This may be especially true if your home is chaotic, with kids running about and other dogs roaming the house. So, if your heavily pregnant cat goes missing just a few days before giving birth, don’t be alarmed.

However, this might not always be the case. So, once your cat disappears, we always advise you to start a search program. Also, keep in mind that a pregnant cat is extremely susceptible to environmental effects.

Can cats find their home if lost?

Retracing one’s steps is a skill that cats are known to have. Therefore, it’s important to find out if they can return home after getting lost.

According to a report released by Lost Pet Research, cats typically exhibit a propensity to locate their homes after becoming lost for several days or even years. Cats have a strong sense of orientation. They can therefore remember how to get home even if they get lost.

The cat might not find its way home if the area where it goes missing is unfamiliar to it. Additionally, coming home after going missing may also be a problem for fully indoor cats.

How to attract my cats back home?

Cats have a strong orientation sense that helps them track their way back home. But what can you do to aid in their return home after going missing?

Here are some ways that can really work to attract a lost cat back home.

  • Keep a bowl of your cat’s favorite treat by the door so that it can smell it.
  • Keeping your cat’s litter box can also prove helpful.
  • Put your cat’s food by the door. You can keep fish that smell strong to attract your cat.
  • Call your cat’s name aloud. 

Why do female cats go missing for days?

Female cats can occasionally disappear for days at a time. So what are the justifications for this behavior?

During mating season, unspayed female cats may go missing for days. This is because female cats look for compatible mates while in heat. They are drawn to unspayed tomcats because of their propensity for mating, which is why they go absent for days at a time.

It is important to remember that a female cat may mate multiple times throughout the season. So she might spend several days outside.

Why do male cats run away?

Tomcats have a strong tendency to flee. But why do they exhibit this behavior so frequently?

Unneutered male cats are more likely to flee to mate when in heat. It is a typical trait of theirs. In addition, male cats, who are known to be highly territorial, may disappear while attempting to increase their territory.

It can also happen that a neighboring cat is claiming your male cat’s territory. In such a circumstance, it would leave in quest of new land and go lost for several days.

Summary

So, cats can go missing for days and even months and years. Their curious nature, prey drive, mating instinct, etc., can drive them away from home. Yet, thanks to their strong sense, cats can usually track their way back home. But, it is always recommended to initiate the search program as soon as a cat goes missing. The sooner the search begins, the higher the chance of getting them back. 

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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