As I mentioned in other questions in Pets.SE, I have a cat since 2011 who, sadly, can only live outside my dad's house.

Since mid-August I had to move out to another quite small apartment, which is too little for both me and him. So I had to be separated from him because of my studies.

A strongly close acquaintance of mine reassured me by saying that my cat will know when I'll be back. I plan to come back to my dad's at least one in two weekend for the beginning and I was afraid when I'll come back that he wouldn't be here. Sometimes, but especially when I leave my dad's house for a long period, he only comes in the night to eat his diner we gave him. My acquaintance told me that my cat will smell my odor in the garden if I'll come and thus, he'll recognize it and he'll know I came. Is that true? Are cats' sense of smell that efficient?

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Unlike ants and bees, cats do not use scent as their primary sense when they move. Cat olfactory senses are quite strong, especially when we compare them with those of humans, but it will not help them move a few hundred meters. Cats sometimes have problems finding hidden treats inside the room, let alone find you from a distance.

However, cats are great observers. Not only he will notice in which pattern you arrive, he will also notice how your father behaves differently before you come. So, even if he misses you a few times, he will eventually find out your pattern and come to you if he wants to.

Not directly related to this, but cats have an internal compass which lets them find their home turf if they get lost. This internal compass is compared to those of homing birds. As long as they are not too stressed, they can find their way home from an unknown location. Of course, this only applies to wandering cats, as house cats will be too stressed to focus on their instincts. Regardless, this homing behaviour does not apply to your being at home.

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