Every now and again, you read of lost cats traipsing for miles in order to get home. Like the Langkawi kitty that walked 8km to a mosque to look for the kind man who’d always fed him there. There are extreme tales too, like Jessie an Australian cat that walked 3,200km over a year to get back to her old home.
Generally speaking, cats aren’t too bright about directions. To put that in perspective: cats seem to have a sense of personal location and desired location, but they’re not always good at navigating obstacles.
Practically speaking, a cat on Street 6 knows he needs to be on Street 7 but he can only think in terms of direct routes. He wants to go straight there. If the shortest route is blocked by a wall, he sits in front of it, mewing. He can’t visualise walking around the wall.
What does it mean for you if you lose a pet? First, think like a cat. We walk on roads and paths, but cats can go over a roof or through a hedge. Imagine where your pet could go, if scared and running.
Next, when you look for your pet, walk two or three streets beyond your home in all directions. Do it at night when it’s quiet, so that your pet can hear you call. You may be walking past your lost one with him being too afraid to mew or move. So go back two or three times a day.
Also, cats move about. So after the first few days, expand your search an extra street or two – and keep calling. Alert the neighbours.
Finally, don’t give up hope. We once reunited a lost cat named Boris with his “mum” and “dad” after they’d been separated for more than a year. Miracles do happen!