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How to Get a Cat Go Back Home: 14 Useful Tips

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Cat Inside

Cats are independent animals and getting a cat go back home can quickly become a problem when he doesn’t want to.

Discover all my tips to make your life easier.

If you haven’t trained your cat to come home, he’ll only answer your calls if it’s okay with him.

One of the ways to ensure this success is to train your cat to come at the right time. It’s not as complicated as it looks, because cats are as easy to train as dogs, they only have a shorter attention span, and need more motivation than just praise.

1. Call your Cat by his Name

If your cat does not respond within 30 seconds, it is because he does not want to come back.

If so, don’t let your voice betray your frustration. Instead, close the door and occupy yourself for 5 minutes, then try again.

A hiding cat may then change his mind and be there the next time you call, once he realizes the door isn’t always open.

2. Use Food to Bait your Cat Indoors

Only let the cat go outside when he is hungry. So when you need to get him in, if he refuses to answer his name, try shaking the box of cat cookies. When he returns, be sure to reward him with food.

3. Turn Off the Lights

This tip works almost every time. Instead of screaming for hours, just call your cat once (trust us, he can hear you from a distance, as he has very acute hearing) and start closing the house and turning off the lights, as if you were going to bed. When he realizes he may be out all night, he’ll come running.

4. Find your Cat

If it’s important to get him inside and you can’t find him, go get him. If it is raining or the cat is fearful, it may just be hiding under a bush and refusing to budge.

If he’s hiding from danger, or just keeping dry, he’s unlikely to run away and you can carry him inside.

5. Do Not Express your Frustration

When the cat shows up after hours of calling, don’t take your frustration out on him.

If you tell him he’s a bad cat because he’s worried you and wasted a lot of your time, or if you give him a pat, he’ll associate his re-entry with punishment.

This will discourage him for the next time and a vicious cycle will set in.

6. Never Chase your Cat

Never indulge in a chase game to catch him. If he runs away, don’t chase him.

It would only reinforce his decision to run away and very few people can outrun a cat, especially if he decides to climb a tree. Yes, this is a battle you may lose.

7. Find Food that Motivates your Cat

The key to training is finding food that motivates your cat. Every cat is fond of at least one particular food, whether it’s a piece of tuna, chicken, ham, shrimp, or even steak.

You have to find out what is the “must-have” food for your cat, the one for which he is ready for anything. It can take a bit of experimentation, giving it different tunes until you find the one that really suits him.

8. Decide on a Commandment that Equates to a Reward

It could be his name, something like “come” or “here”. The idea is to get the cat to associate this commandment with getting his treat.

Start by saying this commandment each time you put down his meal. You can then continue to combine command and reward in various situations.

9. Start Making your Cat Work for his Treats

Now that he has learned that commandments are synonymous with treats, start making him work for treats. Say the command when he’s in another room, and when he’s running towards you, give him a treat.

At this point, you can try to let him out when he is on an empty stomach. First, let him out, and immediately say the command.

Each time, let him walk away a little bit more before you say it. The goal is for it to end up happening as soon as you say the command, wherever it is.

You can’t force a cat go back home. If the cat doesn’t respond to your call within 30 seconds, don’t insist. Image by Waldemar Zielinski from Pixabay

10. Make Noise with his Food Bowls

If your cat is the greedy type, you can try shaking his kibble bowls outside so he can hear the sweet call of food. Since cats have a highly developed sense of smell as well as hearing, you can also open his favorite food or heat up his favorite meat, and he’ll smell it from a mile away.

However, don’t expect him to come home within a minute. Although cats never stray too far from their territory boundaries (which they set themselves when they first arrived in the house), your cat may be exploring a new territory and may take a while to return.

11. Keep Training Sessions Short

Cats do not concentrate for more than 5-10 minutes.

Try to keep each session short, 5 minutes or less, and repeat them 2-4 times a day.

If during a session the cat is looking around and not focusing on you or the treat, stop the session and resume at the next scheduled time.

12. Ask Yourself if Anything Has Changed in your Cat’s Life

Start at the beginning. If your cat used to come home easily, but now refuses to come home, ask yourself what has changed. Did something happen, like the arrival of a new dog, that made him feel unsafe inside?

Examine his body language. Is he walking with his tail in the air, rubbing his head against the furniture confidently? Or is he hiding close to the ground, his head squirming from side to side in the lookout for danger? This last point indicates that he is afraid of something.

If you solve this problem, it is likely that he will come home of his own will.

You can also think about changing his cushion, to give him a new one that is more suitable. In particular, there are anti-anxiety cushions, recognizable by their raised edges that provide a feeling of security.

13. Realize that If a Cat Feels Threatened, He Will Be Less Likely to Spend Time at Home

If your cat is not feeling safe, he will prefer to stay outside and only come home if he is hungry. Look around and try to see things from your cat’s point of view.

Is he being chased by another cat when he comes home? Can he walk from the front door to his favorite sleeping spot without having to walk past a loud washing machine?

It doesn’t take much to scare a cat, so your goal is to eliminate things that might scare him and make the house as safe and welcoming as possible.

14. Check If your Cat Is Neutered or Not

Unsterilized cats are more likely to wander, especially alley cats. A cat has a strong hormonal motivation that prompts him to patrol his territory in order to protect it from intruders.

You can have him sterilized/neutered so that his hormones are no longer a hindrance. He will then concentrate more on the house and be less likely to fight, which will also reduce the risk of contracting serious infections.

How to Get a Cat Go Back Home: Conclusion

I hope that all these little tips will give you some hints when it comes to calling kitty back at night… And that you won’t worry anymore if he doesn’t show up…

Of course, if you have some tips yourself, don’t hesitate to share them with me in the comments, they are made for that 😉

Cat Inside Photo by David Mark from Pixabay

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