Some Cats Find Their Way Back to Their Real Home Even After Journeys of Hundreds of Miles: How Do They Do It?
By Mr Ghaz, April 16, 2011
Home is Where the Heart is: How Felines Find Their Way
Cats may like to stay out at night, but they almost always come home. In fact, some have taken their liking for familiar surroundings for extremes. Numerous stories tell of cats who move to a return to their old haunts a few days later. And some cats find their way back to their “real” home even after journeys of hundreds of miles. How do they do it?
Apparently, cats navigate by the sun. On home ground they register where the sun is positioned in the sky at certain times of the day. If a cat is lost or far from home, it works by trial and error until it finds the place where the position of the sun matches what is lodged in its memory. By then the cat has probably recognized the familiar landmarks and smells of its own territory as well.
A Sixth Sense?
But there is another class of cats with an ability that has no explanation. These cats do not find their way back to a familiar place, but are able to track down their owners when they have moved to completely new locations.
When a doctor and his family moved from Poughkeepsie, New York, to Livermore, California, in 1959, they left their cat, Sparky, behind. Nine months later Sparky turned up in Livermore.
A crook in his tail, the unusual color of his eyes, and the pattern of his for confirmed his identity.
Smokey, a three-year-old Persian cat, was traveling with his owners from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to their new home in Memphis. At a rest stop only 18 miles from Tulsa, Smoky: a distinctive tuft of dark red fur under his chin and a curious habit of joining the daughter of the family at the piano while she played convinced the owners that this was the same Smoky they had lost in the outskirts of Tulsa.
The most celebrated traveling cat is probably Sugar, who belonged to the Woods family in Anderson, California. In 1951 the Woodses moved to a farm in Gage, Oklahoma, but had to leave Sugar behind because the cat refused to travel in the family car. A neighbor adopted the cat, but after three weeks Sugar vanished.
Thirteen months later Sugar announced his arrival in Gage by leaping onto Mrs. Woods’s shoulder. At first the thought the cat was simply a look-alike, but the cream-colored Persian had a peculiar deformity of the hipbone, just as Sugar had. His 1,500-mile journey had not been in vain.