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New Old Cat is afraid to go outside

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Two weeks ago we went to a cat rescue home and found a new cat Suki after we lost our 4 year old Charlie from kidney failure. Suki is 11 and was previously with a family which included two dogs and another younger cat. We have another male cat Bruno who we believe to be around 8 years old.

Suki has settled in well to the house and is very affectionate, sleeping on our laps and pawing us to get our attention. The only problem is that now she has got used to us, it's time for her to go outside and explore our front and back gardens. This she has done with great trepidation and she has always gone straight back inside.

We've sat outside in our garden and called to her, but she will just walk straight back in, whereas she'll coming running over to us inside. When we tried to keep her out with us by closing the backdoor she went down on her hunches, cried out in panic and started crawling around the doorway. We immediately opened the door and she run inside and hid.

What's wrong with her and what's the best thing for us to do?
post #2 of 9
First of all, welcome to TCS!!!!
It's possible that when Suki was with her previous owners she was kept as an indoor only cat. If that actually is the case, then being outside would be a strange and frightening experience for her. That's just my opinion and, hopefully, you'll be getting responses from some of the others here soon.
post #3 of 9
My guess is that she was an indoor only cat. I would let her decide on her own that she wants to go outside. She may not ever want to go and will be a happy indoor only cat.
post #4 of 9
I agree with Sandi and Lorie... she may have been an indoor cat... and bless you for having the kindness to adopt an older cat!

Suki may simply prefer to stay inside which is not a problem at all... in some ways, it's even better because indoor cats are not exposed to the dangers the outside world offers like disease, cars or cruel people. On the other hand, she may simply be a shy cat and will need some time to gather the courage and familiarity with her new home before she ventures outdoors.

I'd let Suki choose the pace. If she shows interest in going outside, open the door for her and let her control how far she advances while allowing her to escape back in if she wants to. The more "control" she has, the more likely she will take advantage of the outdoors if she desires to.

Another thing to keep in mind is that light and sound can really affect cats in unfamilar situations: things look and sound very different outside. For example, my indoor cat, Bugs, will only walk in his harness at twilight or if it is dark. This is because it's quieter, and because he feels safer, being harder to see at night. Loud sounds terrify him, so he won't walk in the daytime when the light exposes him and the traffic is loud. So if your cat is timid, you might try dusk or very early morning when it's quiet to introduce Suki to the garden.

Edited because of typos... clearly, I need coffee!
post #5 of 9

Welcome to the site.

If your cat doesn't want to go outside - don't make it do so. It will be far safer inside than out. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen kitties by the roadside.


Mine only go outside under supervision in the garden - and are very happy with the arrangement. Even my recently adopted wild-child, Ferdy has settled into remaining within the garden.

Maybe encourage Suki to go into the back garden with yourself/your family, but don't leave her alone. This way she might gain in confidence and eventually sit in the garden with you.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Progress report...

We left the back door open on Sunday whilst we were out in the back garden and Suki came out to see what we were doing. She seemed quite happy and had a little wander around and chew of the grass. When we went in she followed us in.

Fortunately, we're in a traffic calming area with a speed limit of 20mph and speed ramps every 25 meters, so traffic isn't a problem. Also, we have allotments and fields behind our house, so there's plenty of room for Suki to explore if she wants to. We'll just let her take things at her own pace and see what happens.

Thank you for all the advice.
post #7 of 9
Bless you Brig for getting an older cat.

I adopted Moogie at 9 or 10 years old - she spent the first 6 months living under the sofa, let alone going outside! However, like you are doing, by allowing her the opportunity to have free access in and out, she grew to being a very confident cat (I watched her battering a poor Jack Russell who had stupidly decided to wee on the garden wall). My fav pictures of Moogie are of her covered in pollen, smelling the flowers in the garden (no scanner, sorry).

Good luck and let us know how Suki is getting on.
post #8 of 9
Suki is a very pretty cat - looks quite happy and contented sitting there in that picture.

Yes - let us know how things go, and come back for a chat now and again too!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Suki is now famous!

We were looking through the local newspaper tonight and saw this article. They did say when we got her that they were planning to do an article on her!

Suki has completely changed and now queues at the back door in the morning waiting to go out. She'll disappear over the back wall, but will come back when we call her. She's even bought us back a present - a dead mouse - and enjoys chasing the frogs in the garden!
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