Skip to main content

When Cats and Dogs Travel Long Distances to Get Home - Psi Trailing

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Kathy is a freelance writer for Textbroker and Constant Content and a published author in "Neon Rainbow Magazine."

What Gives Animals the Ability to Find Their Way Home Over Long Distances?

I've always thought it is so neat when you hear a story of a cat or a dog who has traveled miles, sometimes hundreds of miles, to get back home to their beloved owner again. Is this a case of total love and devotion or of something else? What gives them the ability to find "home" when they are so far away from it?

There is an instinct that has been written about called "homing instinct." It's a phrase that is normally used when talking about migratory animals or birds. In some cases, the term has been used to describe the behavior of cats who manage to find their way back home again once they are moved to another location or they run out of the house and become distracted and temporarily lost. In any case, it is thought to happen because of a superior sensitivity to magnetic fields that helps to act as a sort of internal compass.

When a pet is away from home, and when home is only a short distance away, not longer away than about 7 1/2 miles, they can normally find their way back. The trip can be fraught with perils for any animal, but especially for cats or dogs. There are dangers from fast moving cars, people who are cruel, other predatory animals, outdoor dangers like boards with nails projecting from them and other assorted dangers.

This innate ability animals have to correctly detect the right direction to go to get back home again is sometimes referred to as a homing instinct. However, in recent years, a professor from Duke University came up with another name for it, he called it Psi Trailing. Dr. Joseph Rhine came up with what he thought was a good term to use to describe this almost psychic ability that animals have to either find an owner they have been separated from or a familiar home that they have been displaced from.

In some cases, animals have been known to travel long distances to find an owner who purposely left them near their old home for assorted reasons. Maybe the owner was moving to another state for a new job or for other reasons and couldn't have pets any more, so they thought it best to leave the animal behind with a trusted friend or relative. In some cases, the animal is ill or has physical challenges and the owner feels that a move would be too stressful to put the animal through.

There is a story of a cat back in the 1950s who had a deformity in the bones of his hip. When his owners needed to move from California to Oklahoma, they thought it would be best to leave the cat with a friend in California who was familiar to the cat and who they trusted. They thought the long trip in the car to Oklahoma would be too much for their beloved cat, who they had named Sugar.

Imagine the owners surprise when over a year later, a cat showed up at the barn in Oklahoma where his previous owner was milking a cow. The cat jumped up through the window to greet his owner. He had made a 1,500 trip, in spite of his challenges due to his hip, to get back to his much loved owner. It's stories like this that always give me goosebumps.

There is another very heartwarming story that comes out of France. A cat named Misele lived on a farm in France. One day her owner, a man named Alfonse Mondry, became ill and had to be taken to a hospital. The hospital he was taken to was in a town nine miles away, where the cat had never been in her life.

This amazing feline decided to find her owner, whatever it took. She traveled the nine miles, through hazardous conditions like rock quarries, a forest, several busy highways and cow pastures to find the hospital her owner had been taken to. One afternoon a nurse came in to check on Alfonse, and you can probably imagine her total surprise to find a cat, not just any cat, but Misele, Alfonse's cat curled up on top of his legs.

Once Alfonse told them how far of a distance his beloved cat had traveled to find him, through perilous conditions no less, no one had the heart to say that the cat had to go. She was allowed to stay there with her owner.

The Phenomena of Psi Trailing is not Limited to Cats...

It seems that dogs also have this amazing ability to find their owner when they are separated from them. They have also been known to travel long distances through remarkably challenging conditions just to be reunited with the one they love so much.

There is the story of a dog named Troubles, for example. In the 1960s during the Vietnam war, a dog named Trouble's was dropped off by helicopter, along with the person who was to be his trainer. During the Vietnam war, dogs played a big part in the effort, but were not always treated as well as other soldiers were.

One day when his handler, a man named William Richardson, was injured, he was taken to a hospital nearly 10 miles away. It took Troubles three weeks, but he finally made it to the far away destination, the area where William was. He couldn't find his beloved trainer right away, but he did find some clothes that belonged to him. The dog was found curled up, taking a nap on top of some of Richardson's clothing.

The ability to travel these long distances to find their owners and families they love so much has been attributed to things like a sixth sense, a homing instinct, and more recently, Psi Trailing. It has been explained by a magnetic attraction, as a feeling of uneasiness when they are separated from their owner that becomes better the closer they get to finding their owner and even as an innate ability animals have to mentally make a "map" of where they are and where they need to go. Some people simply choose to believe it is purely overwhelming love and compelling devotion that bring their beloved pets back to them.

Whatever the explanation is, it is a very remarkable thing. If it is indeed a thing known as Psi Trailing, that could be a very real and plausible explanation behind it. When Professor Rhine from Duke University was doing his study, he found a total of 54 cases of animals who had traveled incredible distances to get to the person or family that they were so attached to and devoted to.

The fact that it happens so many times is compelling and fascinating. Whatever the reason is, there are cases when the person who is reunited with their beloved pet just believes that it is a miracle, pure and simple. Whether science can really explain it or not, people who love their pets are just very glad that it does happen.

A Totally FREE New Service That Helps To Reunite Lost Pets With Their Owners!

Scroll to Continue

I Enjoyed this Book Immensely! I Believe any Cat Lover will Enjoy it, too!

© 2013 KathyH


PARDHU KUMAR MAHATO from tinsukia on August 23, 2020:


KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on May 15, 2016:

Thanks so much for sharing your sweet story, hiwinder! I got goosebumps reading that!

JayJay from Western North Carolina on May 11, 2016:

Great read. We had a cat, Mitzi, that we thought was not getting along with our others so we took her back to the animal shelter fifteen miles away. Several days later Mitzi reappeared at our door very bedraggled but well. She won our hearts and lived with us a full happy life for 16 years. We called her the Miracle Cat? Thanks for the happy reminder.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 24, 2016:

Thank you, lrdl3535! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this!

Richard Lindsay from California on April 21, 2016:

These are great stories and they were very interesting to read. Great post.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 11, 2013:

They do have some incredibly amazing natural instincts for sure, Joan! Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I appreciate that! :) Thank you for your kind words!!

JoanCA on June 11, 2013:

Great hub and such interesting stories. I've always been fascinated about the instincts animals have whether it's in separation stories or panicking right before a natural disaster like an earthquake hits.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 26, 2013:

Thanks so much, Paradigm Enacted! I'm so glad you liked reading this one, it was a fun one to write! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!:-)

ParadigmEnacted on April 26, 2013:

Hey, this is cool.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 22, 2013:

It sure is, Beckie! :) I can't imagine the perseverance, love and sheer will it takes to travel such a distance, having no idea what may happen to you... it is just amazing! Thanks so much for visiting, it's great to see you back again! :)

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on April 22, 2013:

Every time I hear or read of another remarkable animal traveling great distances to find their human friends, I am astounded all over again. It truly is an uncanny ability they display.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 22, 2013:

You're welcome, MsDora! I wish teenagers had it, too. I remember those nights sitting up late waiting for them to come home "you could have gone to bed, Mom!" No, I couldn't! :) They understand now that they each have a daughter of their own. :) Thanks so much for your wonderful comment!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 22, 2013:

Amazing stories! The homing instinct has to be the work of our Creator. I couldn't help wishing that all teenagers had it. Thanks for this really inspiring article.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 21, 2013:

You're so welcome, Leslie! So glad you enjoyed the stories, I had fun writing about these amazing animals and their inspirational devotion to their humans! :)

lesliebyars on April 21, 2013:

Those were some amazing stories and I really enjoyed them. Thank you and voted up.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 21, 2013:

Wow Donna! That story gave me goosebumps all over again! What an amazing cat! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! It's so nice to hear about an account of this that ended well! :-)

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 21, 2013:

Thanks so much Joe! I had the same feelings when I read these stories, I just wanted to give our two kitties big hugs. Traveling like this is so perilous for any animal! So glad you enjoyed this! Thanks so much for your wonderful comments! :-)

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on April 21, 2013:

Kathy: when I was a small child, my family was in transition. Our house sold and the new one wasn't finished. So we moved in with my aunt, who couldn't have a cat. We took our cat to live with our babysitter temporarily. Of course the cat didn't know that. At the time, my father owned a store in our small town. Several weeks after leaving the cat, the girl who lived in our old house showed up at the store with our cat. We were amazed! The cat had travelled about ten miles to get back home. After that we kept her in the back of the store until we moved into our new house. She was an amazing cat. Great hub. Voting up and sharing.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on April 20, 2013:

Kathy, I think these psi trailing stories are amazing! But I also think about the thousands of other stories where animals are either accidentally or purposefully separated from their owners (or, sadly, abusers) that don't have happy endings. Reading an article like this compels me to go hug my cat right now. Thanks for sharing! You're an awesome writer! Aloha!


Related Articles