Where do cats go when they leave the house?

Where do cats go when they leave the house?

If you're the proud owner of a pussycat, you might be left wondering just what antics your playful ball of fluff is getting up to when they leave home.

Whether they're enjoying the delights of the British summertime or stepping a paw out into the murky night, there's nothing your furry friend enjoys more than wandering out into the big wide world. But do you know where they end up?

Some cats enjoy nothing more than a quick saunter around the garden, sniffing the roses and chewing on that freshly cut grass. But you might be surprised to learn that Fluffy's roaming habits can quite often take them to new places far beyond the garden fence.

That’s why it’s so important to compare cat insurance and get the best deal for protecting your puss while they’re out and about.


How far do cats roam from their house?


Research has shown that the average size of a territory covered by one cat is 42 acres for females and a huge 153 acres for male kitties.

From playtime activities to bouts of time spent pouncing on their prey, why your feline chooses to roam and where they chose to roam can vary hugely depending on several factors, such as:

  • Other cats in the neighbourhood and your cat's relationship with them
  • How much wildlife is in the area
  • The availability of food
  • Any potential mating partners


In 2013, academics from the Royal Veterinary College and the Universities of Lincoln and Bristol, in conjunction with a group of staff from BBC Horizon used trackers and recording technology to look into the roaming habits of 50 cats.

These moggies resided in the Shamley Green village in the UK and were monitored over a period of a few weeks.

Whilst these researchers used GPS trackers to record the cats' movements over six 24-hour periods, some lucky felines were also fitted with micro-cameras around their collars to film their roaming activities.

There were some interesting results all of which were broadcast in a 3-part TV series on the BBC.

From black and white pussycat Kato, who covered around 93m from his home to black cat Hermie, who clocked up an impressive 3.3 hectares in just 24 hours, the researchers found that the distances and activities of the cats they studied were varied.

Some furry friends covered much more ground than others. However, overall they discovered the distance to be just over 100m from their stomping ground.

In the same study, whilst some cats chose to hunt in their backyards, others took to places much further afield, patrolling hedgerows and city streets.

Depending on factors such as the weather, feeding patterns and their owner's very own schedules, researchers saw a large amount of variation in the activities of each cat throughout the day.

There was also evidence to suggest a "timeshare" territory, which meant some cats chose to roam around outside at different times to avoid meeting or coming into contact with other cats.

A cat and her kitten exploring the outdoors in a grassy garden

Will my cat run away if I let it outside?


Many cat owners worry that if they let their beloved puss outside, they might run off, never to be seen again.

Whilst this can be a common risk associated with letting your favourite feline roam around in the outdoors – just take a look at this stowaway ginger kitty for example – there are steps you can take to help ensure your kitty returns to you safe and sound.

If you're letting your cat outside for the first time, it's a good idea to do it at a time when they're hungry so you can more easily call them back inside. It can also help to carry out the following steps:


  • If you've recently moved house, make sure to give your cat enough time to adjust to their sights, sounds and smells whilst also allowing them time to feel comfortable settling in and rubbing their scent around the place! Typically, cats needs between 2-4 weeks to fully get used to their environment before you think about setting them free into the outside world. This limits their chance of running away because they'll feel much more comfortable returning to their now-safe environment.
  • Make sure to use this time wisely with a visit to the vet for the necessary vaccinations as well as getting your kitty neutered and microchipped. It’s also a great time to get them fully covered for any potential accidents that might happen once they head off for some exploration. Compare cat insurance plans with us today so you can fully enjoy the experience of owning a kitty.
  • Try to choose a warm, dry day and avoid any types of cold, rainy or particularly windy weather as this might put your moggie off going outside or wanting to return promptly.
  • If you can, supervise your cat when they take their first steps into the outside world and leave the door open so they know they can easily return when the need arises, whether this is for food, water or just some reassurance.
  • If your home allows for it, consider fitting a cat flap to give your feline the chance to come and go as they please. You could even install a microchip cat flap to keep out any other unwanted four-legged friends.
  • Cats simply adore the freedom that comes with stepping outside, so try to create a welcoming outdoor environment, complete with toys, fresh water and plenty of obstacles if you have space for it.


Getting your cat to come back


You might find that your kitty cat often disappears for a day or two, and whilst this can understandably be worrying, it's quite normal behaviour for those four paws to go off wandering for long periods.

Training your cat to come back to a specific call can be an effective and reassuring method to allow your cat the confidence to go off exploring but also to make sure they return to you.

If you're particularly worried, Battersea Dogs' and Cats' Home recommends to have some of your kitty’s favourite treats to hand and give them a shake to encourage your kitty to come on home.

Each cat is different, so there's no guarantee that any one method of getting them to come back home will work for your feline.

Alongside the rattling of cat food, you can also use one of your cat's favourite comfort items, such as a blanket or toy as a way of leaving their scent.

It's always best to be patient but if your kitty has been outside for longer than 18-24 hours, there are other steps you can take to get them to come back inside, as this video explains.

By ensuring your kitty is covered with the right kind of insurance, as well as getting them microchipped, it should help to put your mind at rest that they'll return home safe and sound and back into your loving arms!

Compare cat insurance plans to find the purrfect cover for you and your pussycat.

A young cat next to some daisies exploring a grassy garden

Do cats understand when you leave?


Think your super-cool, super-aloof kitty cat couldn't care less if you're coming or going? Think again. A study undertaken by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University suggests that your social habits can leave your feline friend feeling a little sad.

In fact, they found that when left alone for long periods, your cat can actually suffer from certain forms of separation anxiety.

To find out if cats yearned for friendship in the same way as their owners, researchers set up video cameras in the homes of 24 cats, aged between six months and 15 years.

They then compared their reactions to that of their canine counterparts when greeting their owner after some time apart.

Dr Matilda Eriksson, lead researcher in the study, found that the pussycats purred and stretched for longer when owners returned after four hours compared to separations of only 30 minutes. And, this didn't have anything to do with dinner time.

Eriksson said it "revealed that cats interact more intensely” when reunited with their owner after a long time, particularly with purring. This also reflected a “greater need” to rekindle a relationship with their owner, again after a long time away from them.

So, it turns out your clever moggie does indeed understand when you leave the house, especially for extended periods, which begs the question...


What to do with your cat when you leave the house?


If your cat is aware of not only your leaving but actively experiencing symptoms of separation anxiety, it's important to look at ways in which to keep your kitty entertained and active.

Expert in feline medicine and surgery Dr Carolina Vilches Romo said: "Many people assume that because cats are so fiercely independent they don't miss their owners in the same way that dogs do.”

She goes on to explain that the perception of cats is one of independence, self-sufficiency and security as previous research showed that cats don't need humans to feel ‘safe'.

But the new research coming into play just goes to show how previous assumptions might not be as accurate as once believed and this "can only be a good thing when it comes to truly understanding feline behaviours and motivations."

If you're worried your cat is lonely, there are a few warning signs you can look out for, such as:


  • Extreme vocalisation - Crying, meowing and even low moaning sounds.
  • Clinginess - If your cat is constantly seeking attention or following your every step around the house, this could be due to feelings of loneliness.
  • Aggressive behaviour - Uncharacteristic biting, scratching or lashing out from your feline could be an indication that they're lonely. Your kitty cat might also use the sofa, carpets or other areas to express their unhappiness.
  • Not using the litter box - If your kitty is sad or upset about being left alone, they may show their displeasure by refusing to use their litter box or deliberately doing their business on your personal possessions.
  • Not eating or drinking - A change in appetite could be a deliberate sign of feeling lonely.
  • Excessive grooming - If your cat is licking, biting or pulling at their fur in a way that differs from their usual behaviour, this could indicate loneliness.
  • Vomiting - This could also be due to a health issue, so it’s always best to get your cat checked out by the vet if your kitty has been sick in several places around the house in your absence.


If you believe your kitty to be suffering from forms of separation anxiety, there are some other steps you can take to ensure they’re entertained, which include the following:


  • Providing seats or high-up perches so your cat can look out at the world and keep watch
  • Get them some toys – whether they’re of the interactive puzzle variety or Fluffy's favourite teddy, blanket or ball to bat around. A combination of familiarity and stimulation is the key to keep them busy and active.
  • Hiding their favourite food in places throughout the house so your pussycat has to work to find it.
  • Leave the radio or TV on so your cat has some background noise and soothing sounds. This will help them to not feel so alone.
  • Provide a safe space for your kitty to take refuge, have a nap or feel happy and secure.
  • When you are around your furry friend, try to spend 10 to 15 minutes every day playing with them. Cats are suckers for a feather pole toy, light-up ball or laser pen to encourage them to be more active.

If you're worried about your cat being outside while you're out and about in the day or night time, you can always opt for keeping them indoors.

You just need to ensure you have a stimulating enough environment so that they don't get bored and frustrated.

Whilst cats spend a huge 16 hours of their day indulging in sofa sleeps and kitty dreaming, they also need activities keeping them occupied when playtime rears its inviting head.


Compare cat insurance


Cats and kittens are inquisitive little creatures and we understand the importance of knowing just where your feline is when they brave the outside world.

You never know when your cat might need accident or illness cover, so don't delay.

Get a quote from us today and compare cat insurance plans so you can keep your four-legged kitty friend safe and sound.

Don't risk not having cover in place. Unexpected bills can be an unwanted surprise

Get a Quote now