Back in October I adopted my first cat ever, Wheatley. He is ten months old now and an incredibly smart and adventurous little bugger (seriously, he keeps finding ways to get into the ceiling).
With the warm weather quickly approaching, I’m getting more and more concerned about him accidentally getting out or figuring out how the screen door works. Especially since I live in the country, so it is likely he could get lost or attacked by a coyote. Then I’ll be moving to Ottawa in the fall and since I don’t know if they have any by-laws in place about outdoor cats, I don’t want him to get used to being able to go outside whenever he wants.
I’ve looked online and found dozens of reasons why you should consider keeping your cat indoors during the summer, but no suggestions on how to do that. Does anyone have any suggestions or hacks for keeping curious creatures inside? Particularly when it comes to screen doors. -Morgan
How do I make sure my super-smart cat doesn’t get out?
Posted byOffbeat Editors
Comments on How do I make sure my super-smart cat doesn’t get out?
I hear you on super smart cats. Last year, when my cat was more of a lanky teen, she’d constantly be escaping out the front door whenever it was opened, and tried to rip out a screen in a second storey window, then climbed out the hole.
I can’t really help much about the “Dart past your legs out the front door,” other than to be aware when you’re opening the door, (My girl just ran out under a bush out front so she didn’t ever run far) but for the screens, I recommend getting metal screens for windows/doors. They’re much harder to tear, and it’s a really obvious noise when they try to. Even after several months of clawing at the metal screen, she only managed to widen a small hole, and after we fixed the screen she hasn’t managed to rip it at all.
And luckily, she sort of outgrew her curious “I want to be outside” phase. This might be partly because we got another cat with no interest outside. We also tried leash-training her with a harness, and as much as she hated the harness, she liked being outside once it was on. We didn’t really keep up with it once we got two cats though.
Those are really awesome suggestions, thank you! Wheatley doesn’t really run at the door when you open it thankfully, but since submitting my question he has pushed out a screen in a window and figured out how to open one of the doors. I will absolutely look into getting some metal screens, thanks a bunch!
My cats don’t run at the door, but my uncles do. They have always given the cats a special treat every time they leave the house and come home, so now the cats no longer run for the door, but wait patiently at the “treat spot” whenever the front door opens. (It took some time, but it paid off eventually)
Also our local hardware store has “pet safe” flyscreen. It is very strong and flexible and when we replace the screens soon, we are using petsafe. The aluminium flyscreens keep getting claw holes in it and in a rental that doesn’t look good.
The rest of it for us is just being vigilant. One of our cats is allowed outside during daylight hours only, and the other is an undesexed girl, so absolutely no outside whatsoever until we get her fixed.
I originally read that as your uncles run at the door and try to get out xD
My cat did the same thing. One time she did it during a rain storm. She stayed exactly where she landed and proceeded to cry underneath the window until I came out to get her. Super smart and yet super stupid. 😉
They make pet-proof screens but I’ve never tried them because I was renting when my cat was in her screen-ripping phase.
In Ottawa, Ontario there are lots of cats outside so I don’t think there is any bylaws against it
Nope, no bylaws against outdoor cats, but there are bylaws concerning how to take care of them:
I’m sure most municipalities have similar rules, even if few people abide by them. The registration and collar ideas are probably good to follow, though, in case your cat does make it out.
I’m a cat owner moving to Ottawa this fall too. In my last apartment I had to go through two doors to get outside and locked them both all the time, which thwarted my cat’s escape attempts — she could get past the first door, but not the second. I’m not holding my breath for another setup like that, though.
In lieu of finding a home with such built-in measures, finding child-locks for screen doors, windows, etc. might help! (Or DIY it: we used to keep a large dowel stuck between the edge of the screen door and the opposite wall, along the groove where it would usually slide out, so the door couldn’t open unless you removed it. [Sorry, terrible explanation, but hope it helps.])
I had no idea where to look to find that by-law information, thank you! I’m absolutely going to do that, just in case.
Also that child lock suggestion is absolutely genius. Thanks a ton!
The best way we found to keep our very smart and curious cats out of an area (both away from the front door and off the kitchen counters) are these motion sensor compressed air things (I added a link below). We put one near the front door and after setting it off a couple of times both cats simply avoid the front door area. They are expensive and when you just start using them the refills go fast too, but we found that after using the device a few times in each area we don’t really have to use them anymore. Although our more stubborn cat does need a reminder every couple of months to stay off the counters we’ve never had either cat rush the door. Also, since it’s always on they don’t learn to behave only when we’re there. For us, it’s worth the cost to keep the cats safe and not have to sneak in and out of our own house. Good luck!
We like the Contech one better although the Sssscat one is a bit cheaper it didn’t hold up as well:
This is genius! I’m always worried I’ve just been training him to play by the rules when I’m home and not when I’m at work/asleep. Thank you!
I second everything in this comment. Those motion sensors are awesome. It was the only thing that could train my stubborn cat to stay off the counter. But be aware that people can also set off the air spray, which can scare your cat even if he isn’t doing anything wrong at the time. Also they learn to recognize the spray can and only misbehave when they can’t see it, so you might have to find creative ways to hide it.
you can use normal compressed air cans that you can find at Best Buy, Staples etc as refills instead, it’s a bit cheaper.
they also make these that make other noises if you don’t like the idea of compressed air replacements or cold burns.
I love these! They’re also handy for keeping strange cats away from your patio. We were having a problem with a couple of other cats coming up to our windows and onto our patio and scaring our kitty. We set up some of these spray canisters outside and eventually they stopped coming around.
we have two cats – one we call ‘adventure cat’, because she is super crafty and sneaks out as soon as you open the door.
sadly, we haven’t found a great way to stop it, except as noted above, have the feet ready to block her when you open the door (and she is 7 years old now, i don’t think it is a phase). But make SURE she is microchipped and wears a collar with your cell number. Ours has a collar with her name and phone number embroidered right on it, *plus* a tag that says “If I am outside, please call xxx-xxx-xxxx”. One time we got a call from people in the next building that she was over there, apparently visiting.
He is microchipped and has very clear tags (I also put INDOOR CAT right on it so people know to keep him inside), but embroidering all the information directly onto the collar is an excellent idea in case his tag falls off. Thank you!
My parents actually built a webpage for their cat and put the URL on his tag that takes you to a FAQ for him.
(Yes, his tail is supposed to look like that. Yes, we feed him – he’s just skinny. No, he is not starved for affection; he’s just kind of a slut. Yes, he’s fully grown. Sorry he jumped in your car/ came in through your doggy door/ climbed on your garage roof. Yes, he’s allowed to be outside. Yes, we know this makes us horrible pet owners but he’s a barn mouser.)
That is a really cool idea! I have never heard of doing something like that before! So smart!
I would love to see Offbeat Home do a spot on this idea.
Also my husband recently found this: http://www.furcode.com/learn-more/ and we’re probably going to do it for all of our collared-animals (5 cats, 2 dogs).
I’m not sure where the debate is now but I know that there used to be a concern about cats wearing collars that aren’t break-away (aka can release). Cats are notorious for getting caught on things and if you aren’t there to supervise and your cat gets caught, it could hang itself. Probably not a huge issue here but something to consider.
If he’s not already, I would suggest getting him fixed. It keeps them healthier, extends their life by a few years, and helps squelch the urge to roam quite a bit. Not a bad idea to get him micro-chipped as well just in case.
Otherwise, I got nothing. I was lucky enough to have fur babies who have little interest in outside. All the noms and the pettings are inside. LOL
Haha, lucky you! Honestly, I think he likes the thrill of being able to see if he can get out more than actually being out (my brother had him in the car with him a few months ago and got into a car accident, so I think he’s afraid but curious of the outside world).
Kitty is both microchipped and fixed though, and I didn’t know that having him fixed could make him healthier or live longer!
One thing I haven’t seen mentioned that helps us keep tabs on our Ninja cat is to have her wear a collar with a bell. If we can hear her coming we’re all more vigilent about watching the door.
That makes a lot of sense, but unfortunately my cat really, really hates bells. He’s destroyed multiple collars with bells since I adopted him, but has no problem leaving the bell-less collar on. But thank you nonetheless!
My first and main recommendation is improve indoor activities. Find out what toys your cat likes best and make sure you have a LOT of them. Also, rotate toys out so they seem fresh and new. Create a play space for your cat with a lot of scratching posts- the second we finally inundated our space with scratching posts, my cats stopped scratching anything but the posts. It also takes time to figure out what texture your cat likes to scratch (carpet, wheat grass, cardboard, etc).
Make sure the cat has an enjoyable place to view the scenery, from a window with a good view of birds. You could also try ‘creating’ scenery, like a screen saver on your computer that may be intriguing for the cat to watch.
When you are home, play with the cat so it is tired (this also helps it sleep through the night!) and helps keep it out of mischievousness when you are gone because they know play time comes when you get home.
In terms of running out the door, our cat LOVES treats. So we started giving her positive reinforcement. If she ran out, we would simply stand by the open door and shake the treat bag so she would turn right around and come back to us. Now she just greets us at the door rather than running out.
Finally, if your cat truly has a love and fascination for the outdoors, train it to walk in a harness and leash and take it outdoors yourself! There are some great directions online on how to acclimate your cat to a harness and leash.
These are all really awesome and helpful suggestions! Thanks a ton!
aimee shaw KNOWS CATS. you wrote everything i was about to write!
One thing we had to do was lock our sliding screen doors as our cats figured out how to open them
Duly noted, thank you very much!
Our cat likes to escape, so every single time I enter or leave the house, I have one hand on the door knob of the real door and one hand on the door latch of the screen door. This way he can’t dart out through my legs. When he does it get, it’s when I only use one door. No wonder they have those double doors in prisons!
Maybe get a laser pointer cat toy as a key chain? If the laser is higher reward than outside, it could work to distract him when you are going in an out.
There have got to be child safety things to prevent screen doors from opening so easily, so maybe some OffBeat Parents can offer suggestions along those lines!
The laser pointer idea is really smart, I never would have thought about that! Wheatley absolutely loves chasing any type of light, so I will have to try that, thanks!
Someone suggested child safety locks on the doors/windows, which I think is a great idea and will have to try it. That actually might make your life easier too, by the sounds of it!
I’m really glad you’d like to keep your kitty inside – outdoor cats kill loads of birds and other wildlife each year.
As for keeping the cat indoors: I’m not sure what to suggest that hasn’t already been said. The collar bell sounds like a great idea, as do metal screens. Can you also be sure that you lock the screen doors each time you come inside?
I take my cat outdoors on a harness and leash sometimes, but that has just made him more curious and desperate to get outside, so I’m not sure that I’d recommend it! Mine has escaped a few times, but usually he just freezes because he’s overwhelmed by the smells and sounds, and I can grab him and bring him back inside.
Besides the possibility of him picking up a parasite or getting hurt (I live in a rural area that’s full of coyotes), that was my next biggest concern. The statistics for that are insane!
Heh, I live in an entirely suburban area (well, it’s sort of on the outer edges of town, but we’re still surrounded by houses for a good bit) and we get coyotes walking down the street like they own the place. One morning I was out taking my usual walk and a coyote passed me by in the street carrying someone’s (presumably outdoor and by then very dead) pet cat in its mouth.
So yeah, keeping the cat indoors is a very good idea. I can’t recommend much as our kitty is deathly afraid of the outdoors, but probably keeping sticks and dowels in the grooves of windows and sliding doors is a good start, like others have said, because it’ll keep the window/door closed even if the cat manages to get the lock undone.
We live in a country setting but not far (as the cat walks) from a highway, so cars, cyotes, and of course other feral cats have kept our cats inside. Lock your screen doors- our slider came with a locking mechanism and we added a hook-and-eye latch to our other door. Find what motivates your cat so he will come to get it when he does, inevitably, get out. We have one that is totally food motivated, but the other we’re still working on. The motion-activated compressed air is a new one, and I think we’ll have to go for it (thanks, MC!). We used a can with pennies in to to make noise when they got on counters, but of course you have to SEE what they’re doing to react to it. Do have plenty of toys, etc. for your indoor cats, if nothing else to keep him healthy mentally and physically. Close windows and doors when you leave – it might be stuffy, but that’s a small inconvenience compared to searching for your kitty. And, at 10 months old… maybe a second kitty would be good? Our two boys are about the same age and met just as they were 2-ish. They play together A LOT and I swear this keeps them both trim and happily engaged in indoor activities.
Thanks for those suggestions! As for getting a second kitty, when I move to Ottawa I will be moving into a house that has two cats, one of which is around his age and has had plenty of “play dates” over here. I know that would help a lot, but until I move to Ottawa to finish school I can’t really do that. In the meantime, he has tons of toys to play with (even if he tends to lose ’em)!
My friend screened in her back porch to provide “outside” areas for her cat without the risk of them getting eaten. The cat loved it!
That’s an awesome idea! I am absolutely keeping that in mind for when I live on my own, but right now I’m at my parents place, haha!
We are moving to a new apartment next month with a back patio area. We too have crafty ninja cats (I feel your pain, sometimes they are too clever for their own good) Our area is high traffic and coyote-dense so we aren’t comfortable letting them out. But we ARE planning on building them a cat enclosure (or “Catio”) so they can spend time outside. Hopefully that will be enough to quell their curiosity a bit…
Pinterest has some great tutorials and products listed if you search “catio” or “outdoor cat enclosure.”
Good luck with your wiley feline!
“Catio” is my new favourite term, oh my goodness.
I built a catio last year. My cat’s hanging out in it right now! It was a lot of work, but it’s so nice being able to let him outside in relative safety.
We put tracking devices on our cat’s collars for if they do get out. We try our best to keep them in, but one of ours is also very smart and fast, and black (hard to see him sneaking up at night!) You can chip and tag all you like, but that only helps if someone else finds him. The tracking devices allow us to follow him with a remote and figure out where he went.
We use this one:
I didn’t realize they also made trackers for cats, thank you!
Great info! i didn’t now these existed either.
I trained my cats not to push or mess with doors by sitting on the other side with a spray bottle and leaving the door propped. When they would try to push it open, I would spritz whichever part came through the opening. The same for under the cracks on the door. I did this a few times over the course of maybe a week or so. However, this was when I first got them, when they were teeny kittens. Maybe it would take longer for a more adult cat to get the picture.
The other best cat training tool I have ever found is Vapor Rub. I put vapor rub on anything that I don’t want my cats messing with (plants, bookshelves, blinds) and they can’t stand the smell so they stay away. You should maybe try smearing some vapor run on the door jamb/knob or somewhere on the floor of the threshold. I have found vapor rub is the best tool, compared to compressed air and squirt guns, just because you don’t have to be right near your cat for it to work. So even when I’m asleep or at work, they’ll still stay away from whatever I have marked.
But I wouldn’t spray them too much. My younger one is super stubborn and we ended up over water gunning her as a kitten so now she’s old and grumpy if we brandish the water gun she’s just like “bring it meat” and goes right about whatever naughty thing she was planning on doing.
The problem I’ve encountered with spraying my cat is that it put him on a reinforcement schedule. Basically, he knows now that I can’t spray him every time he does something wrong and has learned there are certain times he can get away with something (like while I’m sleeping or at work). But I am totally going to try that Vapor Rub trick!
Also, I’m fairly certain he hid my spray bottle…
careful w/ the vapor rub. totally poisonous for cats.
We’ve learned to only open the top half of our windows. One of our kitties is quite rotund and manages to push out/break metal screens just by sitting on the window ledge.
My mom used to put double sided tape and foil near the door (the cats didn’t like walking on either) and after awhile they’d just stop hanging out near the door in order to avoid having their paws get sticky. I also remember using a spray bottle with one of the kitties when they’d get near the door. My parents also used to put baby gates in front of the screen door to keeps cats from pushing through the bottom part of the screen.
I don’t know how I didn’t think of foil, I have it taped onto all my shelves that can’t support his weight to keep him off and from hurting himself. Thank you!
I’ve got 2 cats that are old, cranky and have been interested about the outside forever. They’re not that smart but they are determined, and only one has ever got out and then I yelled so loud I scared her right back in, this doesn’t mean they don’t keep trying though. I really just try to stay consistent. When they were younger if they ran near the door when I was getting ready to go I just kept picking them up and putting them in another room and then try leaving again. Eventually they picked up on the fact that I was in charge of the door. When coming in I always keep my keys handy and low to the ground. A good shaking of the keys and telling them to get back in a louder voice usually deters them from trying to get around me most times. I also keep my purse or bag low to the ground to act as a block/obstacle. To keep them out of window ledges I’ve put comfy cat beds or blankets near but not IN the window. My cats are very pro-comfy and usually chose the bed over the hard still, but they can still see out.
Shaking keys actually sounds like it would work really well with my cat. He gets distracted easily by noises he isn’t familiar with, and certain loud noises scare him, so that could be a fairly simple fix for when I’m trying to get in and out. Thanks!
We do the same thing with shaking keys. Our house also came with bells hanging from the doorknobs of the doors and sliding doors that works well.
Microchips do fail! Have your cat’s checked at the next vet visit.
I actually almost submitted this question, but with a twist- my kitty has decided it is her goal to get outside the screen windows/balcony. The issue is we live on the second floor, and if she gets through, it’s dead cat. We’ve currently got cardboard up, but I hate it, and she scratches at it. Any tips to keep her from trying to get through the screen?
maybe give her a cat nip scratching post near the screen? they usually scratch to stretch more than to rip stuff. so, maybe the outlet would help.
I really have to say this, in spite of how unpopular this is going to make me, but I heartily disapprove of the whole notion of keeping ‘indoor’ cats. If you want to imprison an animal then keep something like a fish, or perhaps stick insects that might, feasibly, not notice they are living in a tiny cell. It amazes me that people who are otherwise intelligent and, I would imagine, kind and empathic, could have so little imagination they can’t see anything cruel about locking up cats indoors.These same people, I don’t doubt, campaign and give donations to charities that stop cruelty to animals and yet, here you all are, blithely locking up your cats into various tiny and not quite so tiny homes, so that they never even see the outdoors other than through a window, and never breathe fresh air.
Would you lock your children indoors in case they came to some obscure ‘harm’? How about being locked up yourself? Would that make you feel cherished and loved? Perhaps it would, but to me it’s not even half a life, just torture posing as misguided ‘concern’, which has a lot more to do with being reassuring for the owner, and not so great for the cat.
Having owned many cats in my life, some of which died by misadventure, I seriously doubt any one of them would have chosen to stay indoors, ever; they all loved the great adventure that was the outside world too much for that.
There, I’ve said my piece, my conscience is clear.
Chancery Stone – I understand your feelings about keeping cats indoors but I have to say that after having my own cat’s mother and sibling run over, my mother’s cat run over, my neighbor’s cat run over, another one bit by a copperhead snake twice (luckily survived the first time but not the second time), and another cat gone (never knew what happened to him) that we will gladly keep our cats in the house. I didn’t let my child run around on her own when she was younger and now that she is older I can reason with her and explain the consequences of not being careful. Please tell me how to reason with a cat and explain to them about looking both ways before crossing the road and how they shouldn’t play with poisonous snakes. Maybe you need to think about another person’s situation before passing judgement.
If you had read my post right through, Christine, you will see that I said quite explicitly that I have had several cats die from misadventure. One of my cats died from eating an unknown substance in a strange garden and we had a long protracted death with him, constantly having seizures, unable to lift his head. He eventually had to be put down in the dead of night, never having recognised us, his home or his sibling. An experience which was so harrowing I would never want another human being to go through it. I have lost two cats to traffic, one near loss to a fishing creel, one lost to a parasitic infection (caught from living ferally before it adopted me), another cat badly bitten by a predator, and one euthanised by an over-zealous animal protection officer. Yes, you read that right. One of my cats was, unbeknownst to me, purposely killed by an SSPCA officer. So, please, I am as much aware as anyone of the tragedies around letting cats roam free. Just as I am aware of the horrible things that happen to humans who are allowed to roam free. But no matter how much I might want to spare all these beloved pets their fates, I couldn’t, not without removing the very purpose of their being alive in the first place. And that purpose is not to be an entertaining toy for me. The cat needs to be a cat, not a stuffed animal. It’s a living, breathing thing.
It’s cruel to imprison anything that’s meant to have its freedom, no matter how much grief it spares you.
i get where you’re coming from. i’ve been a vegan for well over a decade now & i want animals to be healthy & happy. & no, animals are absolutely not supposed to be our toys. we are, instead, their guardians & they our companions. when you study cats, you learn that, the way a cat feels the safest IS actually having a claim on a territory. outside, this is done w/ violence. inside, we can provide it. it’s not imprisonment any more than a cradle. to protect another creature, means we actually value it’s life. someone who thought of their pet as a toy, would never care enough to write this post. if done correctly, with great care & attention, i believe humans & animals can actually mutually have lives of better quality & fulfillment.
& hey, let’s not get … catty 😉 >^.,.^<
You know, I rather agree with you. If I had a different home, in a different neighbourhood, I probably would let my cats out. As it was, I tried very hard to leash train my cat just so I could take her out. Unfortunately, my current home just isn’t well set up for it, and cats on leashes just don’t behave like a dog would on a leash (It’s a lot more ‘flop on the sidewalk and roll for 15 minutes’). I don’t even have a backyard for myself, so catios aren’t an option. And I’m sure most apartment owners have even fewer options.
Plus, I have at least one kitten who was found on the street, who probably would chose to stay inside, she seems scared every time the front door opens. But sometimes, it really is just that much safer for them to stay in. I wouldn’t just let a toddler wander about outside without supervision either.
I hear you, Alexandra. With repect to kittens, yes, I would no more let a kitten out unsupervised than I would let a child, but full-grown cats aren’t like toddlers. They’re as astute and outdoor savvy as they are going to get, and have to be respected for that. I once had a great cat – snowball – who moved with us to a flat like the one you describe. It was above a shop, with a horrifically busy London road outside and we were not keen on letting her out, so we didn’t. She HATED it. She would howl and cry and took to ripping up the toilet rolls and tearing tea bags out the refuse, which she then threw up and down the hall, till they burst! Fun times.
Eventually we moved to a new flat, even worse than that one for cats, so we gave her away to the girl who had looked after her on holiday. She had got on really well with her family and they already had two cats and a big back garden on a suburban street. Snowball forgot all about us within the week and was a VERY happy cat indeed. I was very sad, but she was ecstatic.
As far as I am concerned that’s what keeping pets is all about. They have no real say over what humans do to or with them; the least we can do is let them fulfil basic needs.
Which is one cat, but between my two girls, the one who was a stray kitten is now almost a year old, and still doesn’t show any interest in going out the front door. The other, well, she’d like to be outside more, but is perfectly content inside for the most part. She only wants to go out when she’s been out and I force her back inside.
Perhaps with the warm weather coming back I’ll get her out again more often. But there’s still the problem that while they’re quite good at being outside, that doesn’t make them the same as kids, who can use the doorbell or a key to get back inside (Because I don’t have a door they can easily get my attention at) or know to be home by dark, or not to scratch the neighbours’ kids when they try to play. Not to mention not to play in the major roads that run by my house.
You’ll get no dispute from me on keeping in a cat that doesn’t want to go out, Amanda. Forcing an unhappy-to-go-out cat outside would be as cruel as keeping in an adventuresome cat; why would you do that? But at the end of the day you can’t stop a cat being a cat. They will run where they want to, poop where they want to and scratch who they want to. The only solution to controlling all their behaviour is to keep them indoors, but I would suggest that in those instances it’s not their behaviour that needs controlled but their owners. If you’re not prepared to accept cat behaviour – pooping, scratching, tree-climbing, bird & rodent genocide, and an untrammelled desire to go where they shouldn’t – then you shouldn’t be keeping cats at all. You should keep a dog. A very small dog if necessary. Or, like I say, a fish or a stick insect if a dog is too difficult/demanding.
I stand by my opinions on this, which were hard-earned; I too used to believe cats should bend to my will and be more tractable. Likewise, they should not do stupid things and break my heart, repeatedly, by coming to sticky ends. But cats are cats. They are not fashion accessories, interesting furry toys or amusing playmates who wait at home for your arrival from work each day as their sole source of relief from boredom. They should be permitted to have lives of their own, which take into account the fact that they are cats, not humans.
I am aware this is a counsel of perfection, much as it is a counsel of perfection to say people should let their children be who they are, rather than making them live out their missed opportunities (or whole lives) vicariously. I’d LIKE to think here on Offbeat that idiosyncratic people living idiosyncratic lives would be more likely to understand the wisdom of this. After all, how many people on here would like to be forced to live their lives like ‘normal’ people’? But, sadly, I see just as many people on here justifying locking cats indoors because it deals with THEIR potential pain as I would see in any other more conventional forum.
At the end of the day, it’s your (collective) decision, since your pets have no say in the matter, but I think cats that repeatedly bolt for doors, escape through windows, tear at screens, refuse to walk on harnesses and leashes, and otherwise show that they are unhappy and thwarted might kind of tell you something. If you still don’t choose to see/hear those clear-cut messages, no amount of disagreement from me or anyone else will ever change your mind.
I agree with Chancery Stone.
If you have a cat that wants to go outside and you can’t let it – for whatever reason – it might be kinder to keep a different type of pet.
Of course, there are some cats that are not interested in going outside, which is completely fair enough. But many cats are very independent and need access to the outside world to ‘be a cat’.
I think the problem I’m having with this mindset is that the alternative to keeping my cat inside is not “Sending her to live somewhere where she can run about outside all day.” it’s “Send her back to the animal shelter so she can stay in an even smaller room with no access to the outdoors.” Perfect solutions are nice, but the world is not perfect, and I don’t believe my cat would be happier in a shelter than in my home. And owning a pet also necessitates doing things the cat won’t like from time to time. She had to go in the car to get her shots, and she wasn’t too pleased about that either, but the alternative is worse.
I can’t say that I agree 100%, because there are plenty of indoor cats that live happily without going outdoors. My grandmother’s cat is content at being inside all the time and would rather lay in front of the window than actually go outside.
That being said, I have owned many, many cats and never had a cat that was indoors full-time. Even living in a community with leash bylaws, my cats have always been able to go outside with their harness, on long, long leashes, giving them the opportunity to roam within the full area of my yard. If I’m outside too, they go leash-less. When I moved into a condo temporarily, my current cat went to live with my mom, because I couldn’t fathom the idea of making her world so much smaller. For me, if the cat wants out, let the cat out. If there are leash laws, work around them.
i applaud you for wanting to keep the cat inside. it is true that indoor cats usually have a much longer lifespan. & they can be plenty happy inside. i suggest going to jacksongalaxy.com for some resources. i recently saw an episode of my cat from hell (this season if you look) that he did dealing w/ the same issue. he ended up having them build a neat cat atrium thing.
anyway, one part of this is keeping the cats stimulated by their environment. so, give him some safe places to explore. maybe a cat walk along the ceiling? perches at the windows?
as for doors, put latches on them that kitty can’t open. if you’re worried he’ll claw through the screen, give yourself a backup screen of something like chicken wire or whatever works for you.
lots of options.
I’m not going to jump on the inside/outside pet can of worms, for fear of getting ranty. You know your pet best and can be the judge of his health and happiness.
If your cat really loves being outside and you have the space and time, a catio or cat enclosure could be something he’d like. Here in Oz there are lots of options from homemade screen doors wired together, to fancy almost invisible black mesh “tents”. You could even try a dog crate at first, second hand from craigslist shouldn’t be too pricey. You’d need to supervise your cat the first few times and I’d recommend putting a hidey hole box with a blanket inside in the enclosure, so he can hide if anything spooks him. If this works you could do this once or twice a week in good weather, and it may help him get his outside energy out. Add some sticks and branches with leaves, maybe some pot plants, general things for climbing and hiding behind. Make sure there is warm and cool places in case the weather changes, food and water, litter tray. This could be a great “neighbours cat park” date place too 🙂
I’ve also had friends who had success placing these roller things on top of their fences in their courtyards and on balcony railings. As the cats can’t grab them – they just roll endlessly – the cats won’t jump out of the area. It’s perhaps not totally cat proof, as some cats may be willing to just jump blindly over them, but they are an idea.
Also some cats hate walking on certain surfaces such as tinfoil, sticky tape, so you could try placing a section of that inside your doorway.
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