The more complex reasons why some animals go missing may astound you. I’ll bet it never occurred to you that what they’re often doing is mirroring our lives in this situation.
Think back: there may have been a time in your life when you lost direction and plunged into a state of confusion. Perhaps you were in a job you didn’t like, working long hours without satisfaction. Or you may have moved from job to job to job in a few years, not able to find one that suited you or gave you that sense of fulfilment. In your own mind you were not even sure what you wanted to do, or where you wanted to go. Inside that head of yours was nothing but confusion and chaos. Know the feeling?
An animal may leave home to show you that, just like them, you’re lost and need to find your way. And furthermore, maybe you’re not looking at all the possible avenues to get back on the right path—it’s not time to give up, but rather, take action. Just as you’d do if your precious animal went missing.
This is mind-blowing stuff, I realise that, but it’s all true. I know, because they’ve told me. Animals may feel unhappiness in their present situation. Perhaps there’s an imbalance in the harmony of their environment. There may be financial stress due to mortgage payments, credit card bills, household expenses, and not knowing how you’ll come up with the funds. There may be a volatile situation in your relationship, whether verbal or physical. You might be dealing with unruly teenagers and trying to gain some control, but with little success. Each of these sorts of situations is capable of leading to endless abusive arguments and continuous stress. This can be very debilitating for you and also for the animals are living with you.
All of this negativity has the potential to greatly affect their disposition. Animals love us so deeply that they’ll most likely become severely stressed if their humans are experiencing difficulties. If they just cannot stay and witness these horrors any longer, they may well flee in desperation. They’re wise enough to know that solving these problems can only be achieved by the people themselves, and they’ll often find another home elsewhere, where there is peace and harmony. It does make sense.
They know that in a serene environment, contentment will surround both animals and humans, and a state of health and wellbeing will prevail. There are also those animals that just need time out. They have their own issues and experiences to deal with, just as we do. Some are loners by nature, others prefer to have a quieter environment. Maybe they’re craving more one-on-one time with their person, but, lately, he or she is too busy. And often, if there are too many other animals in the house, this can be impossible, driving an animal to leave.
Honestly, you need to be realistic about the number of animals you have in one household, and give consideration to the variation of different species. The requirements of all different species need to be met, not dominated by one particular species or animal. For example, cats cannot roam freely in the backyard if they’re fearful of large dogs constantly chasing them. Occasionally they’re even ravaged, which is just dreadful.
Many of these occasions go unnoticed by the people in the household and, if it comes to their attention, they may lock the cats inside for their protection. This isn’t desirable for cats (if they were outdoor cats previously) as it’s a complete loss of liberty, and it can lead to their wanting to find somewhere else to live. This was the situation with Queen, a part-Persian tortoiseshell cat. She had been gone ten days when Paula contacted me.
Paula said that Queen had periodically gone away over the last six months, but had never previously stayed away longer than five or six days. Apparently she was quite an independent feline—although inclined to become anxious in certain circumstances. Queen was not desexed and already had two litters to her credit, with Paula having kept a male kitten from the last litter who was now around six months old. She also had Queen’s brother, and had just introduced a Labrador puppy to the household. Quite a mixture I must say, but not uncommon.
I communicated with Queen and she told me she had found herself a temporary second home with a couple a short distance from Paula’s place. She liked it there as she was the only animal; it was very peaceful. She described her home with Paula as noisy and disruptive, and she was constantly harassed by the two male cats. The introduction of the puppy was the last straw for her! As our conversation went on, she revealed that she had in fact decided to make her temporary refuge permanent. She also informed me she was in kitten again and didn’t want to give birth to her babies amid all the disruptions at Paula’s.
I let Paula know what was going on in Queen’s mind and, understandably, Paula was quite shocked, although she agreed that the male cats were always troubling poor Queen—she was constantly being hounded by her own son, Inca, whose hormones were raging as he was coming into adolescence. In desperation, Paula asked if this situation could be turned around.
I told her that Queen may be better off where she is, and that if she did decide to return, she’d have to be desexed. Queen had made it clear to me that she wanted some girlie privileges, as she was constantly pushed out of sight by the males, including the new puppy. She didn’t wish to be a new mother over and over again, but wanted instead to explore other avenues of life as a cat.
Paula rang me several weeks later to say that she’d seen Queen down the street, out the front of a house. She contacted the people that lived there and was pleasantly surprised to find they were a lovely couple that adored Queen and her four new kittens. Paula decided to honour Queen’s decision and leave well enough alone. It was a hard thing to do, and I admire Paula for her generosity in putting Queen first.