This Best of Bogue column originally was published Nov. 15, 2009.
Dear Gary: My daughter recently moved about three miles away, and she took her cat with her. He is a 5-year-old male outdoor cat.
Anyway, his pattern is to be out at night, come home in the morning, sleep most of the day inside, go outside for a couple of hours, back again for a late-night snack, and then out again for the night.
He is trying to adjust to living with two other indoor cats at the new place. The female cat has no problem, but the other male isn't too thrilled he's there. We understand it will take awhile for all of them to adjust, and hopefully, it will all work out.
However, how in the heck did that little imp find his way back home to my house?
He showed up at my doorstep the other morning and I couldn't believe my eyes. When I called my daughter, she was just as surprised and said he had been home all day the day before, and she had let him out that night.
The cat had only been at the new place for about two weeks, and I can't figure out how he would even begin to find his way back here when he'd never been in that area before. It's mind-boggling.
Of course, our worry is that he will do it again, and he has to cross a couple of very busy streets to get here. Is there anything we can do to try and discourage him from doing that?
If he does it again and she just keeps
Dear Kathi: Cats and dogs have reportedly made some amazing journeys over the years.
I admit I was somewhat skeptical -- until it happened to me.
I had a cat named John when I was a youngster, still living with my parents in Pleasant Hill. When I was 22, I got married and we moved about eight miles away to Walnut Creek. We left John the cat with my parents.
After a week or so, my mom called to say John had disappeared. I spent days prowling the neighborhood and trying to find John. No luck.
A couple of weeks later I opened the back door at my Walnut Creek house to take out the garbage and there was John, skinny, matted, dirty, sitting on my back steps meowing for me to let him in. Boy, did we hug.
John stayed and lived with us for the next 10 years, finally dying at the fine old age of 21.
How are cats and dogs able to find their ways back to previous homes, often many miles away? No one really knows. Oh, there are probably as many theories as there are cats. Do they use Earth's magnetic fields? Follow the stars? Don't you need to know where you're going before you use navigational skills?
I've yet to see an answer I can live with. Maybe it's better not to know as it would take the fun out of it.
I'm also concerned that your daughter's cat might get in trouble crossing those busy streets if he tries to come back to your house again. I wouldn't be surprised if he tried it because it sounds like he doesn't like living with those other cats. If your daughter can keep him inside the house for a couple of weeks, maybe in his own room with a litter box and food, gradually letting him meet and try to get to know the other cats, he might figure that's his real home.
If he takes another trip back to your house, you might consider letting him stay because that sounds like where he wants to be. Or maybe you should make that decision now so he doesn't take any more dangerous trips.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.