Lost Cat Behavior

Jan 31, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We recently adopted a young adult cat, Andy, for our seven year cat, Bodaishin. Bo had thoroughly enjoyed the two cats who came with our house sitter for two weeks and we realized he could use the company. Andy was still nervous with us as Thanksgiving approached but seemed to be settling down.

For Thanksgiving there would be nine for dinner with the centerpiece an outdoor old fashioned bread oven that served as our oven and warm place for conversation. People were in and out all day. At some point, Andy, who is dark chocolate brown disappeared. He had never been outdoors.

As nervous as he was, we thought he might be hiding in the house. After searching every cupboard and inch of the house we realized he had gotten outside. For the next day we scoured the property and surrounding area. Nothing.

We assumed he was terrified and would not approach us for awhile. Naturally, he was microchipped, but someone would have to find him first. In our attached garage, we set his cat tree, a heated bed he liked, his litter box, food and water with a light on a timer set for dusk. The door to the outdoors was propped open.

Twice a day, one of us drove 30 miles from the hospital to our home to check for “Andy sign”. The litter box was used early on and some food gone, but he was nowhere to be found. Finally, after two days, he was in the garage and in his bed.  The search over, I shut the door to the outside, opened the door to the house. With plenty of food and water for the rest of the day, I quietly drove away. Later that day, he was in the house and in one of his many beds.

By providing a safe familiar environment with all the necessary amenities, Andy calmed down enough to return to the things he knew better than the strange environment that he had encountered outdoors. His fear of this wild place in which he landed likely caused him to hide and stay quiet for the time, early on, when we searched for him. Cats respond to threats by fleeing first and fighting last. His instinct was to flee and hide. We had to wait long enough for him to feel safe enough to explore his way home.

By understanding our mistakes in allowing this to happen we have made some changes to our behavior around doors. We also needed to understand how a cat experiences an abrupt change in circumstances and how he would react. By providing the time for him to recover and the resources he knew well, we  made it possible for him to come home.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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