Why Do Indoor Cats Run Away [17 Reasons]

Why Do Indoor Cats Run Away
Why Do Indoor Cats Run Away

Have you ever wondered why your indoor cat suddenly ran away? Despite being protected and pampered inside your home, cats can still get the itch to explore the outside world.

In this short read, we’ll explore some possible reasons why your indoor cat might have the urge to escape and what you can do to help prevent it.

Why Do Indoor Cats Run Away?

Indoor cats can run away for several reasons, including boredom, curiosity, the desire to hunt, or the need to escape a stressful environment.

A lack of mental and physical stimulation can lead to cats becoming bored and restless, causing them to try and find their way outside.

Additionally, if there is a sudden change in the environment or household (such as a new pet or a move), cats may become stressed and try to flee.

Some indoor cats may also have a strong desire to hunt or explore, which can lead them to try and escape outside.

Let’s break it down further…

Reasons why indoor cats run away

Here are some of the common reasons why indoor cats run away from home:

Poor hygienic practices

Poor hygienic practices include; not keeping your cat litter boxes clean, and not keeping clean drinking water for your cat.

Not cleaning your cat playing or sleeping areas, there are lots of cats that have been linked to the cleanest cat, e.g. Ragdoll cats and Siamese cats.

Most cats, don’t like using dirty litter boxes and will always want to go outside to do their business.

Territorial reasons

Even if you have a huge and roomy home, your cat will search for a new area to explore, especially if they have unrestricted access to the outdoors.

Most felines will use their smell glands to identify their territory as their own.

This covers your home, yard, surrounding streets, and perhaps your whole neighborhood.

If you have a confident cat, it’s conceivable that once they’ve established a comfy territory, they’ll want to expand it even more.

However, if your cat is hesitant, a more forceful neighbor cat may drive them out of their own yard and dwelling area.


Stress is one of the major reasons why indoor cats run away from home and most times they may or may not come back.

Indoor cats run away when their home becomes clouded or too noisy, or when the neighborhood becomes uncomfortable.

Always create a cool and calm environment for your cat to protect them from a busy neighborhood or noisy environment.

New family member

When you have new members, be it other cats, dogs, or pets, cats are not a fan of this type of arrangement.

Even if you are expecting a visitor, be sure to get your cat ready as they can run away and never come.

New family members are seen as stressful for any cat especially if the cat is not properly socialized to be with other people or dogs.

Better food sources

If you don’t care how often your cat eats or if you don’t provide high-quality food, you’re pushing your cat away.

Because you don’t provide your cat with high-quality food, each opportunity your cat has to find a better food source will be exploited. This will almost certainly result in your cat fleeing.

Make sure your cat is fed at least twice a day with the proper cat food, and that clean water is constantly available.

Always keep an eye on your cat’s litter box and scoop it as required. Maintain a clean environment for your cat and provide high-quality food.

If you’re a busy person, you may purchase an automated treat or food dispenser, program it, and educate your cat on how to use it.

Unfriendly cat environment

Making a cat-friendly environment has many benefits, and while it might be costly, it is well worth it when you consider what you will gain.

Creating a cat-friendly environment entails designating a portion of the complex as your cat’s domain and maintaining that area free of access.

This part should be chalked out to give a hiding place for your cat, as most cats like an afternoon sleep and will require a peaceful environment.

Providing engaging toys is another method to make your surroundings cat-friendly, which will prevent your cat from fleeing in search of a better home.

When you are occupied with other things, you may also give a TV set for your cat to watch cat cartoon movies and rest.

Prey drive or hunting instincts

If your cat has access to the outdoors, you’ve probably witnessed this phenomenon in the form of “gifts” left in your doorway.

I used to have an outside cat that would bring frogs, mice, and occasionally squirrel to our porch.

According to new research, domesticated cats seek and kill up to ten times more prey than equivalent wild predators.

So, if your indoor-outdoor cat is missing for a while, one possibility is that she’s on a hunt.

Been neglected

The level of attention you provide your cat influences whether or not it will run away.

It’s not only about feeding your cat on a regular basis when it comes to cat care.

We all know that cats shed from time to time and that this bothers them.

It is your responsibility to take the time to groom your cat since it will keep him happy and healthy.

If you don’t have time to trim your cat’s nails, buy a nice scratch post for your cat.

If you don’t have time to clip your cat’s nails, acquire a decent scratch post for your cat.

Water is essential for all living things, so make sure your cat has access to clear, clean water and changes it at least once a day.

Even though cats are clean creatures, make time to bathe your cat on a regular basis. At the very least, bathe your cat once a month.

Making a clean litter box accessible for your cat is also a kind of cat care since cats like to defecate in a clean litter box. Most cats despise using a filthy litter box.

Abusing your cat on a regular basis

An abused cat will look for a way to run, and sometimes they run and die.

Most times we abuse our cat without knowing this act is immoral.

Here are a few things you are doing that will send your indoor cat away;

  • Rubbing your cat’s face on poop or pee
  • Shouting at your cat unnecessarily
  • Depriving your cat of good playtime
  • Staving your cat

Cats are proficient hunters and will always feel they can live on their own when they feel abused.

So if you are the type that abuses your cat, don’t be shocked to come back home one day and find out your cat is long gone.

Reproductive reasons

The main element that causes an indoor cat to venture outside is mating.

When a cat is in heat, it becomes restless and moves around in search of an escape route.

An unneutered cat might travel a long distance in pursuit of a mate, and this trip can cause a slew of issues for your cat.

It is very common for your cat to become separated from you.

As a result, if you have an indoor cat and don’t want it to go away, we recommend sterilizing it or getting a neutered cat to avoid stress.

Male cats are always on the lookout for a female cat, and if you try to stop him from going outdoors to find one, your male cat may attack you.


A depressed cat can run away and die, there are lots of factors that can cause a cat to get depressed.

  • Stress
  • loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Separation anxiety
  • Poor diet
  • Constantly changing routine
  • Shouting at your cat
  • Frustration

Learn more about depression in cats.

Changes in daily routine

Changing routine on a daily basis causes your cat to be frustrated and depressed, and this can force your cat to run away.

Stick to a particular activity on a daily basis and not change on a daily basis.

Death threat

When cats are threatened, they go into hiding until the danger has gone.

If your cat goes missing, it’s conceivable that they’re lurking nearby.

If your cat ventured further away from home and faced a threat, he may have concealed where he was—and may have remained hidden for a little time before coming home.

If your cat is still within 300 feet of your home, their lots of cat tracking devices that will notify you of their whereabouts.

And if your cat is indeed hiding at home, that’s even better—you’ll have saved yourself hours or days of stress!

Loss of their owners

Losing a loved one can force a cat to run away from home and never come back, sometimes they run away and die.

Even a change of cat sitter or walker can cause a cat to run away.

To give birth

It’s best to keep your cat inside the house if she’s about to give birth.

Make a warm and quiet area for the cat and kittens, preferably a big box where they may wander around freely.

Ensure that essentials including food, water, and a litter box are always within reach.

Contact your veterinarian for further information on how to prepare for the birth of your cat.

You may obtain instructions there, monitor your cat’s health, and if any difficulties arise, you and your kitten will get the assistance you need for a successful birth.

Most cats will always want to run away from home when they want to give, especially if it’s their first time, so keep your eyes open.

Poor socialization

Poor or improper socialization and training can cause an indoor cat to run away, make sure to socialize your cat with all the possible fear factors.

Be sure to socialize your cat with humans, dogs, cats, and other animals.

Changing of location

When changing location or environment be sure to keep track of your cat’s activities, as they can run away when they find out you are moving away.

Here is a well-written article on how to help a cat adjust to a new home.

How you can make your indoor cat feel safe and happy

Here are some of the best practices to keep your cat safe and happy:

Add new features to your home

Adding new features to your home includes cat-proofing your home, and providing your cat with all the necessities.

Create a small piece of space in your home that will make your cat feel at home, with lots of places to hide and climb.

Make sure your cat is healthy

If you keep your cat healthy, there are few chances your cat would want to run away from home.

Providing good quality cat food is also a way of keeping your cat happy at home, so that they have no need to look elsewhere.

Take your cat for walks and play with them

Taking your cat for a walk and playing with them reduce stress and increase bonding with your cat.

The more your cat bond with you the less they want to run away from your home for any reason.

Keep a watchful eye on your cat

Always keep track of your cat’s daily routine and activities, this will help you figure out when your cat is depressed.

Cat-proofing your home is also a way of keeping a watchful eye on your cat.

Provide your cat with a window or ledge

Make sure you provide a platform where your cat can stay to have a view of the outside world.

This helps relieve your cat from stress or keep your cat from getting bored.

Create a stimulating environment for them

Creating a stimulating environment involves providing lots of interesting and interactive toys for your cat.

Providing lots of exercise equipment and places your cat can explore whenever you’re away from home.

Spay or neuter your cat

The most effective approach to prevent wandering is to spay and neuter (or sterilize) your pet. You also aid in the prevention of concerns such as overpopulation.

Keep your cat entertained

Keep your cat entertained and they will not think of going outside, you can also get a second pet or cat.

The top 6 most recommended toys for your cat are as follows;

  1. PetFusion Ambush Interactive Electronic Cat Toy.
  2. Potaroma Electric Flopping Fish.
  3. Catit Design Senses Circuit Cat Toy.
  4. Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree Cat Feeder.
  5. PetSafe Bolt – Automatic, Interactive Laser Cat Toy – Adjustable Laser with Random Patterns.
  6. Petstages Scratch & Play Tower Track Cat Scratcher Toy with Catnip.

Why your indoor cat might start to feel the need to explore outdoors

Here are some special reasons why indoor cats can suddenly start feeling the need to explore outdoors:

  • If the cat is not spayed or neutered.
  • Constant changes in daily routine
  • The arrival of a new pet
  • Cat constantly abused
  • Hunger
  • Dirty Environmental
  • Dirty litter boxes
  • Separation anxiety
  • Lack of stimulation

What to do if your cat runs away

Here are some things to do to find a lost cat:

  • Search all possible cat hiding places
  • Talk to local animal control officers
  • Ask around your neighborhood
  • Talk to local animal rescue organizations
  • Make flyers and posters with pictures of your cat
  • Talk to local animal shelters
  • Try to post on local social media pages
  • Advertise in Local newspapers
  • Check with every Vet Around
  • Talk to a pet detective.


Here are closely related questions about cats running away from home and their answers:

Do cats come back home after they run away?

Yes, cats come back home after they run away provided the cat wasn’t killed, trapped by cat nappers, or taken away to another city.

Every time a cat runs away from home it could be for a particular reason, and once the cat gets what it wants, it returns home.

A cat on heat can run away from home, and after mating the cat will return.

A cat that runs away from home to hunt and will return home after days of hunting, and so on.

A cat can only not return when: the cat is dead, the cat taken away by an animal control team, a cat was abducted by cat nappers, or a cat taken away from its city.

Can indoor cats find their way home?

Yes, indoor cats will find their way home provided they were not trapped, or taken away by cat nappers or the animal control department.

It is important to note that indoor cats do not roam far away from their territory like outdoor cats.

Indoor cats stay around the neighborhood for most of their activities while outdoor cats cat cover long distances.

Therefore, since indoor cats do not roam far from home, they will always find their way home unless trapped or taken away.

Where do Indoor cats go when they run away?

Here are places indoor cats go when they run away from home;

  • Abandoned buildings
  • People Backyards
  • Bushy gardens
  • Abandoned Warehouses
  • Small bushes around town
  • Under decks
  • Hide in Foundations
  • Shrubbery
  • Abandoned basements or garages

Therefore, if your cat goes missing, check all the above-listed places.

Can an indoor cat survive outside?

Yes, indoor cats can survive outside, but not for too long because there are many predators waiting to use them as food.

Indoor cats will not live long outside because they do not get the required medical attention.

Do Indoor Cats Wander off for days?

Yes, indoor cats can wander off for days because it was not neutered, or properly socialized, or you didn’t cat-proof your home.

The principal reason indoor cats wander off for days is reproductive reasons, hunting instincts, and hunger.

So it is important to avoid this by getting a neutered cat or taking your cat to the vet to get it neutered, and always providing interactive toys and quality food.

How long can a lost cat survive?

A lost cat can survive for about 2 years or more depending on its environment and the number of predators around.

There are a number of factors that might influence how long a lost cat can survive outside;

  • Number of predators around
  • Availability of food
  • Availability of shelter
  • Age of the cat
  • Breed of cat
  • Number of prey around
  • Diseases

How do lost cats survive?

Here are the ways lost cats survive;

  • They hunt mice around small bushes.
  • Lost cats hide in abandoned warehouses
  • The lost cat hides in people’s basements or gardens.
  • Lost cats feed in dumpsters
  • Lost cats hunt small birds and lizards to stay alive.
  • Every lost cat tries to get its own territory where it hides during the day and comes out at night.


It may seem strange, but even indoor cats can run away. That’s because they’re still wild animals at heart.

They want to explore and roam around the neighborhood, which means it’s important to take precautions to protect them from dangers like traffic, other animals, and predators.

When you fail to fulfill your role as the owner, your cat will attempt to flee. Don’t scream at your cat or beat it up.

Make time to be with and play with your cat, as this will help your cat form stronger relationships and trust.

Keeping your cat indoors will increase his or her lifespan, save you money, and keep your cat healthy, safe, and happy.

Yes, if you do not neuter your indoor cat, it will flee; but, you may cat-proof your house to help keep your cat within.

Cats typically flee during the reproductive season or hunt in a different place.

A stressful atmosphere, territorial tendencies, or the attention of another person may also cause them to flee for a few days or go missing completely.

I hope you now understand your question, Why Do Indoor Cats Run Away

Categorized as FAQs

By Nelly Cage

Nelly Cage is a pet lover who loves and lives with cats. She will be sharing her experience with cats and other pets.