Why Does My Cat Run Away From Me? What Should I Do About It?

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It can be upsetting if your cat spends more time running away from you than sitting on your lap. As good cat parents, it’s up to us to work out why our cat is running away from us and if there’s anything we can do about it. We’ve listed common reasons that your cat might run away from you and what to do about it! While not every solution will work for every cat, we’re sure that you’ll find something to help.

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1. Your house is noisier than normal

Cat and house
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If you suddenly have many unfamiliar visitors, like for a kid’s birthday party or barbecue, then the volume levels in your house can skyrocket. For a sensitive cat unused to so much noise, this can all be too much. Your cat may decide to dash under the couch and hide or even run from the house. While they’ll usually return once the volume returns to normal, there are a few things you can do to ease the process.

Solution: Consider planning ahead. If you know you’ll be having a large gathering, use something like a Feliway Cat Diffuser, which uses feline pheromones to comfort and calm your cat. You can plug this in a few days before the volume is going to increase. On the day itself, dedicate one area of your house as a guest-free zone and allow your cat to stay in there with plenty of toys and food. You can use a calming collar and even calming treats to help your cat feel more relaxed.


2. Your cat wants to play

cat playing with owner
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If your cat comes up to you with a playful look in their eyes and bats you with their paw before turning tail and running away, they’re trying to tell you they want to play! Some cats will want to play with you when you get home and they’ve been alone all day. Others have favorite times of day that they love to race around the house with a case of the zoomies!

Solution: This is an easy one — just play with your cat more! Make sure you have a good selection of different toys for your cat to play with, including kicker toys, wands, and toys that your cat can play with on their own when you’re not home.


3. Your cat wants to go hunt

cat hunting in grass
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Cats are born predators and have a strong instinct for hunting. If your cat runs out of the door at dusk and comes home to proudly present you with a dead mouse, you’ll know they’ve been off enjoying a hunting session.

Solution: You might decide to provide your cat with more toys that simulate hunting, including puzzles and food toys. You can also spend more time playing with your cat to help them use those hunting instincts at home. Domestic cats can cause serious problems in terms of catching local wildlife, including birds and rodents. A bell on your cat’s collar can help warn prey animals that your cat is coming. Keeping your cat inside overnight, from before dusk to after dawn, can reduce the risk of them catching anything. You might also decide to transition your cat into being an indoor cat to completely cut this problem out.  If you do that, you’ll need to make doubly sure that you provide your kitty with plenty of opportunities to use their hunting skills while playing.


4. Your cat is in heat

Cat on sofa
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A female cat in heat will be compelled to go and find a mate, while an intact male cat will roam far and wide looking for those females!

Solution: We suggest speaking to your veterinarian about getting your cat spayed or neutered. This will stop the hormones that make your cat wander far from home when trying to find a mate. It will also prevent the issue of unwanted pregnancies and having to find a home for kittens you weren’t expecting in the first place.


5. They have territory issues

cat walking on fence
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Cats in the wild have large home ranges where they won’t often run into other cats. For our domestic kitties, this isn’t possible, so in every neighborhood, there will be several cats whose territories overlap. If your cat is trying to claim territory from a more dominant cat or another cat has moved into your area and is trying to take some of your cat’s patch, you might find your cat wandering further away from home than normal.

Solution: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for this problem because your cat may be the one trying to expand their territory or losing theirs and looking for a different spot! You can pay attention to the time your cat would normally head out on their adventures and tempt them to stay home with extra-special treats and playtime. You can also use a GPS tracker to watch where they go if you’re concerned they’re wandering too far from home!


6. You recently moved to a new house

cat in moving house
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Moving to a new house is a stressful time for cats, and you may find that it takes a long time for your cat to settle into your new home. They might decide that they want to go back and live in the old house! If your cat lives outdoors, then they will have spent a long time establishing and protecting their territory. This is something that they will naturally want to return to.

Solution: Make sure you keep your cat indoors for the first week or so after a big move. You can use a pheromone diffuser to help keep them calm before and after moving. Don’t let your cat out without any supervision for the first time after you’ve moved, as this may make them run off straight away. Instead, consider training them to walk on a harness and leash so you can explore the new area with them. Or you can install an outdoor cat enclosure so they can get used to the new sights, sounds, and smells without panicking and running off.


7. There are multi-pet issues

dog and cat on floor
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If you decided to add another cat or dog to your family, congratulations! However, this situation may cause your current cat to feel threatened and result in them running away from you. Make sure you manage the initial introductions between your new pets so everything goes smoothly.

Solution: Make sure the first few meetings between your pets are kept short, and allow your cat to retreat if they want to. Keep one area of your house as a dedicated area for each pet so if they don’t want to interact, they can spend time in their safe zone rather than feeling the need to run away instead.

8. Your cat needs better socialization

cat playing with little girl
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If your cat came from a shelter or you took them in off the streets as a stray, then they may not be used to spending much time with nice humans. If your cat hasn’t yet learned the joys of toys, scratches, and cuddles, then they’re going to need time to come out of their shell.

Solution: The best way to solve this issue is simply going to be time, patience, and a few treats! Spending quality time with your new cat but not expecting them to interact with you if they don’t want to will be the key to building their confidence.

9. Your cat got stuck

cat in tree
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If your cat hasn’t returned from their usual neighborhood patrol, it might not be that they’ve run away but that they’re stuck somewhere. Cats are extremely curious animals. They can jump into an open courier van, investigate a shed for potential mice, or even wander through someone’s backyard and into their house.

Solution: Make sure your cat is wearing a safe breakaway collar with your details on a tag. That way, if they get stuck somewhere, it’s easy for whoever finds them to identify you as the owner. Microchipping your cat also means they can be identified if their collar falls off. Using a GPS cat tracker can help you monitor exactly where your fluffy pal is if they’ve been gone longer than normal.

10. You had a baby or other major event

grey cat with baby
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Bringing a new baby home is a wonderful moment, but it can also be a time of stress for our sensitive feline friends. The major disruption to routine can cause your cat to feel unsettled and stressed. They might simply decide to head off and find somewhere more quiet to settle down for a day or two.

Solution: We know it’s an extra thing to add to the huge list of things to do for new parents, but taking the time to consider the best way to prepare your cat for the new addition to the family is a good idea. Using a calming collar and pheromone diffuser shortly before your baby is born, as well as when you bring them home, is a good way to keep your cat as calm as possible.

11. Your cat found a new home

devon rex cat eating
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This can be devastating if it happens to you, but it’s not unheard of. Sometimes a cat will pop into a neighbor’s house for some food and tickle and then come home. Other times, they can decide that they’d actually prefer to live with someone else.

Solution: If you’ve found that your cat is hanging out with someone else, the first thing to do is to try and let them know that your cat already has a loving home. If your cat doesn’t have a collar, then it can be hard for someone to contact you. Using a GPS tracking collar will help you work out if there’s somewhere your cat visits regularly that they might be tempted to move to.

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Hopefully, our list of 11 reasons your cat is running away from you includes a familiar scenario. Only by taking the time to work out why your cat is running away can you take steps to stop it from happening. Sometimes those steps can be simple, and at other times, they can involve a few more steps, like deciding to transition your outdoor cat into becoming an indoor cat. Whichever it is, we can all agree that our cats are worth it!

If your cat is habitually running away from home, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss causes and solutions in more detail.


Featured Image: Roman Koval, Pexels