why do cats go to other people's houses?
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Visit Other Homes?

It’s thought that a cat will live anywhere if fed, but this isn’t strictly true. Cats know the difference between their home and another home, but like to visit other houses for several reasons, sometimes regularly.

Cats are curious creatures and enjoy scoping out the sights and smells that other homes offer. If there’s no resident feline, they will try to claim territory over the house, which could land you in hot water with your neighbors. Cats will keep returning to the home if the homeowner offers tasty food, affection, and attention. This means that you might have to have a conversation with your neighbor to put a stop to it. 

If your cat regularly visits another home, politely speak to the homeowner. You do not want your cat to get fed twice. If that doesn’t work, keep your cat indoors. Ensure that your pet is happy as cats visit other homes to escape certain stressors that are present on your property.

Why Do Cats Go To Other People’s Houses?

Cats are prone to entering other homes, especially those of your neighbors. Some people welcome this habit, but others find it intrusive. It is obviously a source of concern for somebody with a severe cat allergy.

It can be difficult to prevent a cat from engaging in this activity. Outdoor cats will always be looking for ways to access another home, so you’ll need to keep an eye on this to maintain harmonious neighborhood relations. As we’ve touched upon, cats visit other homes because they’re:

  • Curious
  • Attempting to gain new territory
  • Looking for more food
  • Seeking companionship
  • Need peace and quiet
  • Mental abilities are in decline
  • Enduring a stressful home environment

Just be mindful of how your cat behaves when it is at home with you. Watch out for any signs of stress or unhappiness. If your cat feels more comfortable at another home, it will eventually become the cat’s primary residence. You need to give your cat a reason to return to you. To prevent your cat from going into other people’s homes, you must first understand the reasons why:

Curiosity

Cats are born adventurers with a healthy sense of curiosity. This means that a cat will always want to know what goes on in another home. A closed door in your own home is mysterious, and guarded access to an entire property is even more intriguing.

Ordinarily, a cat will enter a home for a lengthy exploration. It will have picked up on a range of scents, such as cooking smells. The cat wants to know what these aromas are and where they come from. Any sounds that come from a house, such as music, will also pique a cat’s attention.

The cat will also be looking for new experiences. That means that it will have new things to climb, new spaces to squeeze into, and new territory to mark. Your cat may also be checking to see if hunting opportunities are available in this new area.

This, in particular, needs to be watched. This second home may host birds, fish, rabbits, or rodents as domestic pets. If your cat learns of this, it may start terrorizing these unfortunate animals. This can lead to stress for your neighbor’s non-human houseguests.

Can cats go back and forth between houses?

Territory

Once your cat’s curiosity has been satisfied, it will focus on gaining territory. If there is no resident cat at this second home, it is unmarked territory. The cat will mark everything it can in the new home.

Typically, a cat will start by marking the exterior perimeter of the home. When the chance arises, it will move inside. This could be an opportunistic dart through a front door or climbing through a window. Of course, the neighbor may have also invited the cat inside.

Once the cat has marked a second home as its personal territory, it will keep returning. Having claimed the home, it now needs to guard it. It will be keen to ensure that no other feline has a similar idea. The cat will fight to retain its terrain, if necessary.

A cat considering somebody else’s as home its territory can be problematic. The cat may start to act belligerently toward guests to the home. It may also begin verbalizing and scratching at the door after dark, demanding to be admitted.

Cats mark their territory in many ways. If the cat merely rubs scent onto furniture, it is not the end of the world. Unfortunately, other issues can arise. As explained by The Canadian Journal of Zoology, cats also mark territory through urine and scratching.

Male cats, in particular, are prone to these behaviors. This means that your cat may damage property while visiting another home. Your legal responsibility to pay for repairs and clean in such an event varies by state.

Food

Food is the most likely reason for a cat to keep returning to a second home. Cats are skilled manipulators. Your cat may have fooled residents into believing that it is stray. This way, the residents will provide the cat with food. 

Resolving this issue can be delicate. Consider affixing a collar to your cat before it leaves the house to make it clear that the cat is not stray and has a loving home. This could make the owners of the second residence think twice about feeding the cat.

If a routine has been established, discuss the situation with the owners of the other residence. A little white lie may help here. Claim that your cat is on a specialist diet and should only be fed at home.

Before you leave, learn what food this second home was feeding your cat. Clearly, it has become an established favorite. If you start feeding it, the cat is less likely to seek a different meal. There are multiple explanations for your cat seeking this meal, which include:

Greed

It’s possible that your cat is just greedy. Some cats are more gluttonous than others and see nothing wrong with eating twice. This will eventually lead to obesity and diabetes.

Hunger

Aside from greed, your cat could genuinely be hungry. This might be because you’re not feeding it enough during colder seasons or having other cats that are getting there first. In this case, you should consider feeding your cat little and often to satiate it. Food obsession is also a sign of various health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Parasites
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Getting to the bottom of your cat’s health condition could discourage it from going to another home for food.

Tastier Food

If your cat refuses the food you provide, your cat’s second home may be providing it with a more appealing meal. The cat is eating its fill elsewhere, then returning to its primary residence.

Companionship

Cats are independent, but they still get lonely. Loneliness and boredom can lead to prolonged stress. Your cat may be visiting a second home for company. The cat may have learned that somebody is home during the day while you’re at work. The cat will seek the companionship and attention of this person, returning to you during the evening.

Alternatively, the cat may have forged a friendship with another animal at the home. It’s rare for strange cats to take a shine to each other, but it can happen. Equally possible is an inter-species friendship with a resident canine.

This companionship may be good for all concerned. The cat is happy, and a lonely human may appreciate the company. It could set a dangerous precedent, though. A cat with two homes will eventually treat them both equally. The second home may not be equipped for this, and you’ll miss your cat.

Peace And Quiet

Your cat loves you and your family, but all felines need time alone. This is why cats have assigned territory. Often, a cat will hide atop a closet or in a drawer for a nap. If the cat is still surrounded by stimulation, it will look elsewhere.

Cats find constant noises distracting and stressful. They also like attention to be on their terms. If you have children, they may want to play with and handle your cat. The cat will indulge these wishes but on its own terms. It may visit a second home for some respite.

This is especially likely if the property is vacant during the cat’s tenure. Your cat is simply looking to decompress for a while. Once your cat feels suitably refreshed, it will return home to you. All the same, it is preferable to provide this quiet place for your cat within your own home.

Cognitive Decline

If your cat is older than 15, it may start growing confused and disoriented. This is known as Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, a condition comparable to Alzheimer’s disease.

Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice notes that senior cats experiencing cognitive decline show memory lapses. Your cat may struggle to remember where it lives. The cat will follow its nose or ears, approaching the first home with signs of life. Other symptoms include:

  • Staring into space for prolonged periods
  • Reversed sleep-wake cycles
  • Excessive verbalization and clinginess
  • Uncharacteristic aggression and other behavioral changes
  • Eliminating outside the litter box

There is no cure for this condition as it is a natural process of the cat’s brain aging.

Escaping Stress

Your cat may be visiting other homes because it feels uncomfortable on its own. A cat that lives in a constant state of anxiety will be miserable. Common everyday stressors for cats include:

  • Regular, unwanted handling
  • Loud noises
  • Exposure to allergens
  • Lack of assigned territory
  • Irregular and erratic routines
  • Bullying from other cats
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Boredom and loneliness

Consider if any of these concerns may apply to your cat. If so, make the necessary changes to improve your cat’s quality of life. If you fail to do so, your cat will eventually stop returning to your home. If a cat feels like it has a better alternative, it will spend more time there.

Do Cats Like Visiting Other Houses?

There might be instances where your cat divides its time between two different homes. This could be because you’ve moved to a new place and are in the process of moving or have a partner who owns their own home. A cat may enjoy visiting another home because it’s:

  • Nw and exciting
  • Formed a strong bond with the homeowner
  • Fed its favorite food
  • Getting more time, cuddles, and affection
  • Being fed tastier food

Can Cats Go Back And Forth Between Houses?

There might be instances where your cat spends its time between two different homes. This could be because you’ve moved to a new house and are in the process of moving or have a partner who owns their own home.

But can cats have two homes? It depends. If your cat is familiar with both homes and they’re located within close enough proximity, it might be happy to live between the two. However, whether your cat can go back and forth between homes is down to its personality and the situation.

For example, scared cats that constantly feel on edge won’t enjoy being ferried from one home to another frequently. The stress and trauma will be too much for them to cope with. If you own a nervous cat, it’s best to keep one home as its base. Call in a reliable pet sitter for the times you’re not there to keep them company.

If you have a relaxed, laidback cat that’s happy to adapt to two homes, you’re likely to fare better living between them. Though, you must ensure your cat’s familiar with the surroundings of both homes so that it can find its way back if it goes off for a wander.

How To Stop My Cat Going To Another House

Understandably, you want to stop your cat from going into a neighbor’s home, especially if you suspect that it enjoys spending time there. If you don’t stop this behavior, your cat could eventually leave home and permanently move into its new one. To discourage your cat from going elsewhere, follow these steps:

Minimize Stress

Start by establishing a routine for your cat. Ensure that it is offered food, play, and companionship at the same time each day. If you work irregular shift patterns, ask a friend or family member to visit occasionally.

Provide your cat with territory to call its own. A separate room that you rarely enter is ideal. This may be a challenge in a small apartment. Cats need to know they can escape to a safe space when necessary.

This is really important in a multi-cat home. An excessively dominant cat can make it difficult for a submissive counterpart. If your cat cannot escape these attentions, it will seek an alternative place to live.

Feed Little And Often

If your cat goes to other homes to find food, you might want to change its feeding schedule so that it feels more satisfied. Two meals aren’t always enough, especially for large, active cats. Instead, five small meals spread out throughout the day should prevent your cat from going elsewhere for food.

You might also want to think about changing your cat’s diet from wet food or dry kibble, or vice versa. If it regularly goes to a neighbor’s house for food, try asking them what they use to feed your cat and switch to it to see if that helps.

why do cats visit other houses?

Entertain Your Cat

To encourage your cat to stay at home, shower it with affection and treats. These things will show your cat that you care, discouraging it from seeking companionship elsewhere. Be careful not to overfeed it, though.

Similarly, provide entertainment for your cat at home. If you can’t be around constantly, ensure that your cat has plenty to keep it occupied. This includes toys and exercise, such as cat trees. It would also help if a friend or a neighbor could pop by to visit your cat daily to break up your cat’s time alone.

You could also consider adopting a second cat to give it more company. However, it takes time for two cats to accept each other and they don’t always like each other. For example, a kitten and an older cat can be a difficult relationship to make work. If you cannot spend prolonged time with one feline, taking on a second cat is inadvisable.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

If all else fails, you’ll need to keep your cat indoors until it breaks the habit of visiting other homes. This will also give you time to figure out what’s causing your cat to go elsewhere.

It will take free-roaming cats longer to adjust, so don’t do anything that makes your cat think that it’s being punished. For example, don’t raise your voice if your cat starts vocalizing or scratching at the door to go outside.

If you’re able to, create a catio that allows your cat to roam and get fresh air without the opportunity to escape.

Talk To Your Neighbor

Have a friendly chat with your neighbor. If you know that a neighbor has been encouraging your cat inside or feeding it regular meals, you might need to ask them to stop. Most well-meaning neighbors will understand and respect your wishes, so do your best to keep everything civil. To get your point across, explain how:

  • It’s affecting your cat’s normal routine and stability
  • Extra food puts your cat’s health at risk
  • Your cat requires a special diet due to a kidney problem
  • Your cat’s gaining weight quickly

Cats entering other homes is just part of the challenge of feline ownership. At some point, you may need to retrieve your pet from a neighbor and talk things over to find a solution. Curb your cat’s tendency to visit other homes by providing everything it needs when it’s with you, including food, company, and a stress-free environment.