Cat Homing Behavior

Greg Saulmon Cat Photo 3
Photo by Greg Saulmon / Courtesy of

Homing is the inherent ability of an animal to navigate towards an original location through unfamiliar areas.  There are many stories of cats displaying homing behavior, but there is very little research on the subject. Common homing scenarios include:

  • Your cat escaped while you were traveling or visiting, and he found his way back home.
  • Your cat was accidentally transported in a vehicle and escaped at a distant location.  Then he found his way back home.
  • You recently moved, and your cat traveled back to your previous home.
  • You recently adopted a cat, and he traveled back to his previous home.

If your cat has ever displayed homing behavior, please consider taking this very short survey.  To take the survey, click here

To view the current results, see: Cat Homing Behavior Survey Results

Cat Homing Behavior Research

Beadle, M.  1977.  Chapter 14: The Little Differences in The Cat: History, Biology, and Behavior.  New York, New York: Simon and Schuster.  Reviews the available scientific research on cat homing behavior (including Precht and Lindenlaub, which I can’t find in English) as well as psi-trailing.

Herrick, F.H.  1922.  Homing Powers of the CatThe Scientific Monthly 14(6): 525-539.

Precht, H., and E. Lindenlaub.  1954.  Uber das Heimfindevermogen von Saugetieren. I. Versuche an Katzen.  Z. Tierpsychologie 11: 485.


4 thoughts on “Cat Homing Behavior”

  1. Pingback: The Homing Ability of Lost Cats | Lost Cats Found

  2. Pingback: Homing Ability of Lost Cats | Compassionate Pet Services

  3. I have not seen my cat Jah in two days, and it’s storming. He is a fully intact male orange tabby that I started feeding seven years ago. Four years ago he followed our other pets through the pet door and became family. I’m surprised that the rain does not drive him home to the warm fireplace and full bowel of food. This happened before and he made it home in bad shape, straight to the vet 1,500.00 later he was home on the mend. Healthy and off he goes. Any advise on how to keep a cat home without sealing him in the house?

    1. If Jah is still unfixed, then you could significantly reduce how much he travels by getting him neutered. Neutered male cats have home ranges 1/2 to 1/4 the size of unfixed male cats. Otherwise, I would consider fitting him with some sort to tracking device like a GPS or radio-collar. That way even if he did wander, you would have a much better chance of locating him. You can find more info on cat trackers here: I hope that you find him soon.

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