The Curious Case of Cats & Their Internal GPS

If you’ve had the privilege of being a part of a cat’s life, you are well aware that cats are cunning and curious creatures. Once you bring a cat home, she will occupy every area of your house, get into everything and keep exploring until her curiosity is fulfilled. Even the places you have tried to tell her are off limits, become a boundary which she crosses as she explores. Having fully taken in her new surroundings, her focus will likely shift to the outdoors as cats have a near constant need to explore and discover. Even indoor cats will express interest in what lies on the other side of the door and many owners will allow their cat the freedom to explore the outside world.

A cat’s curiosity can sometimes lead her to journey afar. With so much world out there, she has virtually limitless horizons and, like a lion in the plains of Africa, she will likely be driven by her instincts to travel further afield. Still, no matter where her travels take her, she will return to her home night after night to settle in for some quality time with her human.

While researchers have been able to uncover why lost pets are sometimes able to find their way home, the tracking device employed by our feline friends remains a mystery. While no-one is 100% positive how it is that kitties are able to find their way home time and time again, there are many viable theories.

Their kitty senses are tingling:

It is a fact that cats have extraordinary senses. They can see great distances, have acute hearing, and a keen sense of smell.

Some researchers suggest that, in addition to their heightened senses, cats have the wherewithal to remember routes based on the sun’s position in the sky. This theory suggests that the sun acts as a sort of compass which guides your kitty home at the end of a day full of cat misadventure.

Raw Animal Magnetism:

In 2013, researchers in Florida were confounded by the curious case of Holly the cat. Holly had disappeared when she accompanied her owners on a trip to Daytona Beach the previous year. The baffling part was when she somehow manage to turn up at her owner’s door in West Palm Beach. Her unexplained reappearance lead many scientists to conclude that cats are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field and they use that to guide them home.

Unexplained absences:

Sometimes, your kitty might be away for days at a time leaving you to wonder what has become of her. Upon her return, many cat owners will assume she got lost and finally found her way home. Research conducted by the University of Georgia, however, has uncovered another possibility: your cat might just be leading a double life.

Researchers attached cameras to the collars of 55 domesticated cats and obtained nearly 35 hours of footage from each camera. Upon examining the footage, researchers found that, in addition to whiling away the hours hiding, running and hunting, some of the cats had a second family that they would go to for food, affection and lodgings. If your kitty is away for an extended period of time, she might just have spent a few days with her second family.

Homeward Bound:

It might surprise you to learn that the movie “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” was based on a true story? The movie was based on the story of Howie, a beloved Persian kitty who was left with relatives more than 1,600 kilometres away from his home while his owners went on vacation. Howie escaped from the home of his caretakers and, after an exhaustive search, he was believed to have disappeared for good. An entire year later, however, Howie arrived at his home, more than 1,600 kilometres away from where he disappeared from.

With the incredible feats that cats are capable of, it’s unsurprising they are capable of traveling great distances and finding their way home. While there are many theories as to just how our feline friends are able to do this, it is fun to speculate on the mystery and to scour the internet for stories of cats finding their way home. Perhaps the GPS system that they use to find their way home is just the love that they have for you.