How Far Do Cats Roam?

When you see an unfamiliar cat in your yard, or let your pet cat outside, do you wonder “How far do cats roam?” It may be that you imagine your feline running around and meeting up with his friends, starting a West Side Story-esque gang that roams and owns the alleyways and streets. Or, maybe you imagine your beloved cat going into the woods and hunting for prey, a lone predator that terrorizes any small animal that he or she sees!

But first, let’s ask the question:

Shorthair Cat crossing a road, Roaming cat, cat roamingDo Cats Need To Roam?

In short, cats do not need to roam. They are safer when they stay permanently inside. Studies have shown that indoor cats live longer than those who go outside.

Outdoor cats

It makes sense when you think about it. Outdoor cats are more likely to face predators and other animals that will fight with them. This can even include people who may take delight in terrorizing them, or, alternatively take a shine to your precious cat, particularly if it is an expensive cat breed, and take it home with them.

Outdoor cats risk being hit by a car.

Urban cat crossing a road, cat crossing road, roaming catSome cats will also have less road sense than others, and be more adventurous, so they risk being run over. I once saw a cat chase another cat in a flat out sprint, they darted across a very busy road and only just missed being hit. These fast felines didn’t slow down to check out the traffic situation, they were totally caught up in each other  – one cat was determined to catch the other cat, and the other was determined to evade it, nothing else was on their minds!

Roaming cats can also potentially be picked up by animal control officers.

Buy a cat tree to alleviate boredom.

Your cat may exhibit signs that you think means it wants to roam outdoors, such as pawing at the door or crying out the window. This simply means that your cat is bored – a well-exercised cat is a happy cat. Set up a play area, get climbing equipment such as a cat tree and a cat scratching post, or just play with your cat to eliminate that boredom. If you need an excuse to get another cat, a playmate always helps!

Are Cats Allowed To Roam Free?

Sure cats do roam, but are cats allowed to roam free in most neighborhoods? It isn’t against the law for domesticated cats to be outside. In fact, there are laws in place to protect your cat. For instance, you aren’t allowed to simply dump your cat and leave it behind if you need to move or have a baby – this is against the law and considered animal endangerment. Remember that if your cat is outside and he doesn’t have a collar on, animal control (or well-meaning citizens) can take him to get neutered (or spayed) and get his ear clipped.

Roaming cat, Shorthair Bengal cat investigating, wandering catHow Far Do Cats Roam From Their House?

The distance of how far cats roam from their houses actually depends on many different factors, including the type of cat, the availability of food, where you live, who their mating partners are, the environment, the climate, and more.

Male cats roam more than female cats.

Do Neutered Male Cats Roam?

If a cat is left outside, he will roam. One of the primary reasons cats roam is because of their sexual urges. Neutered male cats are unlikely to roam as far, because they don’t respond to the calls of female cats.

In general, male cats tend to roam more than female cats do, but there is a very wide range. In general, male cats will wander about 1,500 feet away from your home whereas females will wander 750 feet away from home. Of course, this is on average and the day to day numbers may be different.

Generally speaking, feral cats will roam much further than domestic cats will roam. For domestic cats, there have been some pretty great studies to see how far they roam.  Some studies have also shown that younger cats (once they are separated from their mothers or families) are more willing to travel than older cats are.

Country cat, Rural cat, roaming catLocation can also determine how far cats roam.

Where you and your pet cat live can also be a factor in how far it will roam – cats in urban areas will not travel as far as cats in suburban areas, and rural cats will travel up to three-times as far as urban cats. Keep in mind that cats will often walk further than the distance they appear to have roamed as they tend to walk in circles and double back on themselves. I’m sure you’ve experienced this when your cat is leading you to its food bowl to be fed – I’ve almost tripped over my Bengal cat several times!

Will My Cat Come Home?

If your cat has disappeared and you haven’t seen him or her in a couple of days, you may start to worry. In fact, you may be thinking about putting up a Missing Cat Poster in your neighborhood. The good news is that your cat, as long as he or she is safe, is likely to return home. You cannot imagine some of the adventures that the cat will get into – and they can be singularly minded in the pursuit of their prey or mates.

See article: How to find a lost cat.

To encourage your cat to come home, you may want to place food at all doors to your home, do a thorough search of your home, visit your local shelters, post pictures of your cat, walk around your neighborhood frequently, and extend your search into neighboring areas that may be outside of the roaming range. Fear not – cats have been located months and even years after they disappeared.

A reminder – if you want to prevent as much panic, you can microchip your cat and always have a collar with your information on it. You can also think about adding a cat GPS to its collar.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Roaming?

Cats exercising on a cat tree, cat tree with cat condo, bored catThe simplest way to prevent your cat from roaming is to not allow your cat to go outside. Once you allow it a few times, your cat will try to become a master of escape and get out at any time – it will make your life more difficult. As mentioned, cats do not need to roam. You aren’t hurting your cat in any way by keeping him inside – in fact; you may be making his life better. Of course, neutering your cat can also reduce his urge to roam.

If your cat seems bored, as mentioned above, you can buy some cat toys, a scratching post and possibly an indoor cat run so that your kitty cat has something to do during the day, especially if you are at work all day. For older cats that you have adopted, you may want to get another cat if he is used to playing with another animal all day.

Remember that while cats have descended from the mightiest animals in the jungle, they do not need to roam in order to be healthy. There are plenty of other things that they can do to release their energy. So the true answer to “How far do cats roam?” should be: however long it takes to get from your bedroom to the kitchen!

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