Where Do Stray Cats Go During the Day?

By Phil / July 11, 2020
Where Do Stray Cats Go During the Day

It’s estimated that there are anywhere between 35-75 million stray cats across the United States.

That’s a lot of stray cats!

If you’re looking for a particular stray, maybe even your own cat that’s missing, you need to know where a stray cat is most likely to go during the day.

It’s hard to say exactly, as it depends on what hiding opportunities are available where you live.

But there are some typical places strays go during the day and certain things stray cats do.

Here is an insight into stray cat behavior to help you better understand what they do during the day and how they survive being strays.

Where Do Stray Cats Go During the Day?

If you want to know where strays go during the day where you live, you need to understand what their motivations are. Stray cats’ basic needs are:

  • Food and water
  • Quality shelter and warmth is possible
  • Somewhere they feel safe

You also need to be aware that cats are nocturnal. Or more accurately, they are crepuscular. This means they are most active between dawn and dusk.

For this reason, it’s often difficult to spot or find them during the day. If you want to find a stray, you have a much better chance if you go out at night.

But then there is the issue of being able to see them!

With these things in mind, some of the most common places to find stray cats are:

Look Close to Home

That’s right, despite being hard to find, cats usually stick near to residential houses.

Because that’s where they can often find shelter and food. Check crawl spaces, gaps beneath your home, your garage, anywhere a cat could crawl in and keep warm and dry.

Also, look for signs that your bins have been foraged in. Strays need to find food, and unlike feral cats that will eat prey, they’re not as well-versed in hunting.

Related Check out these cat proof waste bins if strays are causing a mess!

Look in Wooded Areas

Look in wooded areas for stray cats

Do you have any wooded areas near your home? Maybe even just some areas with dense bushes and overgrown weeds etc.

Strays are drawn to wooded areas as it typically meets all their needs. They can find somewhere safe and secure out the way of humans. As well as usually being able to find some pretty to eat.

Years ago we lost a cat for 9 days. Only to find she had been living in the bushes (we think) near a small brook just 200 or so meters from our house.

Check Abandoned Buildings

Cats love abandoned buildings. I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve heard where someone found either their cat in an abandoned building or a family of feral cats.

This also includes little-used buildings and outbuildings etc. If there is somewhere that provides shelter with little to no signs of human activity, they’re going to stay there.

Related Here’s how long cats can survive locked in a shed.

Think Food Sources

It’s no secret that food is a huge motivator for cats. If you’re looking for strays, think where they’d find food.

This might even be something as obvious as finding out which neighbors like to put food out for stray cats. Or, bins that they’re able to dive into.

A cat’s sense of smell is powerful. A hungry cat’s sense of smell is exceptional!

The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats

The terms “stray” and “feral” often get used interchangeably, but there is a big difference between a stray and a feral cat.

Stray cats used to have a home. This means they have been socialized to some extent and used to live with a family.

Cats that are truly feral have never lived with a family. They have not been socialized in any way, and are usually a lot more scared of humans. 

Ferals are typically not adoptable. They will never be able to live in a home, it’s just too hard to change how they think and behave.

Strays on the other hand usually can be. In fact, most strays are simply missing or lost cats that should be returned to their owners.

What Do Stray Cats Do All Day?

If you’re wondering what strays do all day outside, it’s not that different to what cats do all day indoors!

They sleep for most of it. Not as comfortably, I’m sure. And with a little more awareness about their surroundings, but they still sleep a lot during the day.

Hence the need to find somewhere quiet.

As night draws in they will start to look for food. Part of the reason why cats are night animals is because they have exceptional vision at night, and that’s also when pretty like small rodents and birds are most vulnerable.

If you’re home during the day it’s not too hard to befriend strays. Just start to leave food out and if any are nearby they will come to investigate.

If you’re concerned about them in the winter months, you could even provide some shelter with a blanket nearby where you’re leaving food.

Related Where do stray cats go in the winter?

Trap-Neuter-Return Programs: How to Help Stray and Feral Cats

If you really want to help the stray or feral population in your neighborhood, you should find out if any organizations are running Trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs.

Endorsed by both the ASPCA and Humane Society, TNR programs are endeavors to find, trap, neuter or spay, and return the strays to where they were found.

I’m a fan of TNR. Obviously, it’s not dealing with the overall issue of stray cats roaming free. There just aren’t the resources available to rehome the 35 million stray cats.

It does, however, reduce the health problems, some of the anti-social behaviors, and most importantly reduce the number of kittens being born in the “wild”.

It’s the best we can do with the current situation and resources available. If you’ve become attached to a stray in your neighborhood, you’ll still get to enjoy seeing and feeding them too.

In Summary

Now you know the most common places stray cats go during the day and what they do all day (and more so what they do at night).

Whether you’re looking for a stray or just want to help the stray population in your neighborhood, I wish you good luck!

Resources

Image credits – Photos by Joël de Vriend, Alfred Kenneally, and Daniël van der Kolk on Unsplash

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