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Cat woe

What do you do with a cat who's pining for the fjords?

He got out while I was trying to bring in the mail, and took off down the hallway. The only reason I caught up with him was that the hall ends in a large landing, right before the (open to the outside) stairs, and Jack was distracted by the sudden opening up of space.

He fought me all the way back to the apartment. Then, he paced back and forth before the closed door, wailing, before trying to reach the doorknob with his paws.

Someone who I can only describe as his caseworker called a week or so back to check on how he was doing. She told me he had previously been an outdoor cat. Well, that explains a lot!

I really don't know what to do. This place is all parking lots and identical corridors: I could never let him out on his own. And I've heard horror stories about cats on leashes slipping out of their harnesses. All I can think of is taking him out on the balcony, under supervision.

(Why supervision? Because some of the tree branches are just close enough than an ambitious cat might be able to reach them with a leap. I wouldn't recommend it, but I'm not a desperate cat.)



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
Some harness designs are pretty secure (I don't like the H-style harness, where the neck loop and body loop are just connected by a single strap down the back -- my cats used to back right out of those). Mine looks pretty much like this one (hope the link works) and seems much more secure. I have to get it over Toeffe's head while putting one of his forelegs through a loop, and he dislikes that, but once he's in he's in. I do also make an effort to remain behind Toeffe while we walk, just as a matter of habit. He really enjoys his walks. The only problem is that once he's been out, that whets his appetite for more, and he tries that much harder to get out again. Lots of begging by the door, too. I suspect it might be easier to just keep him inside 100% and hope he forgets that outside is fun... but he enjoys it so much I can't deny him.

Maybe you can look up some stuff online about helping formerly-outdoor cats adapt to indoor life?
Mar. 20th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
That's a good idea (the research). Some people I spoke to IRL also suggested setting up an Invisible Fence just inside my door.

Just in case he ever does successfully escape, I'm also going to look into having him microchipped, and getting him a collar with tags. Just in case.
Mar. 19th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
Outdoor cats can and do become used to indoor life. First off, is Jack snipped? That helps a lot. Second, just don't let him out, at all. He'll get used to it. It just takes time.
Much better he is annoyed at you then becomes a cat pancake. Indoor cats statistically live twice as long as outdoor cats. No risk of being attacked by an animal, eating poison or getting hit by a car. Plus you don't have to worry about him bringing home fleas or some other unwanted insect problem.

Mar. 20th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
Jack is definitely snipped. So you would suggest not even letting him out on the balcony?

Thanks very much for the guidance! My late cat, despite being born in a barn, was very happy living indoors and never wanted out. Perhaps that was because he moved in with me when he was still mostly a kitten. Jack is almost six!
Mar. 20th, 2010 06:56 am (UTC)
Since he's an older cat, I would recommend him being 'taught' to associate the outdoors with bad things. Maybe you can spray right outside your door with hot pepper sauce? Unless your cat actually likes hot, it should make him stop wanting to go near the door. I've never done it myself, but I have seen it recommended on pet shows.
My Spot had to learn the hard way that going outside was dangerous. My poor boy actually fell through the window screen while having an argument with the neighborhood loose cat. Spot was so scared that now he won't even try to go outside unless one of his humans is with him. That was over 5 years ago. Spot is still healthy and happy, the loose cat was hit by a car years ago.
Hope that helps.
Mar. 24th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
She told me he had previously been an outdoor cat.

And it never occurred to anyone that this was vital for Jack's new human to know??? Sigh.

I'm afraid I can't offer much advice, since I've never had to deal with this problem. Several of my cats were former strays, but they were all quite grateful to be safe indoors & never wanted to go outside again.

From what I know of cat psychology, though, I'd suggest that taking him out on a leash would probably be counterproductive. "Cold turkey" would probably work best.

Perhaps you could try giving him a treat when you get home only if he _doesn't_ try to get out?

Mar. 24th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
It did occur to me that it being Spring might have something to do with it. He didn't try particularly hard to get out when I first got him, but now he's quite persistent. (The return of the birds may be a correlated reason!)

I'm definitely going to pursue having him chipped and getting him a collar and tags. He actually got out yesterday, and I almost didn't notice!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )