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cat anxiety...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi, everyone! I'm new here, the proud mom of two cats, both boys. I'm writing about the older one, Godfrey. I hope I'm posting this in the right place.

Godfrey is 6. He has lived with me for the last 2 years. He is neutered, and his previous owner declawed him and kept him in the house 24-7. I, however, like him to come outside with me sometimes; within the last 6-8 months I've begun to let him come out in our (fenced) front yard while I'm out there. He's a very well-behaved boy and not at all aggressive; he loves to lie in the grass and bask in the sun. But this is where my problem comes in.

Godfrey loves being outside. I certainly don't mind letting him out. The problem is that he doesn't understand why he can't be out all the time, whenever he wants, day or night. As I said, the front yard is fenced, but it's only a picket fence, so there are lots of gaps and he can (and has) slipped out before. I'm uncomfortable leaving him out overnight or for extended periods during the day; he is declawed, which limits his options for defending himself, and because he always lived indoors before, he doesn't understand the danger of cars or other animals (or mean people). Of course, I can't explain this to him. All he knows is he wants to go out, and I can't always let him. In addition, I'm gone for several hours every evening at work, so even if I was comfortable with him being out at night, I still couldn't as I wouldn't be home to "rescue" him if he got into trouble.

As a consequence, he has begun some disturbing behaviors. One, he has begun to urinate and defecate by the front door. At least once a day, I have to clean up feces, and he urinates there at least twice a day! In addition, he has begun to clean himself excessively, and even pulls out small clumps of fur. I know he's very anxious and upset, and it distresses me to no end. I want him to be happy, but I also want him to be safe.

What are my options here? I don't want to curtail his outdoor expeditions altogether since they make him so happy...but I don't want to dump him outside to fend for himself either. The current situation is obviously not satisfactory to him, and it's definitely not good for me or my fiance either. Cleaning his messes several times a day, and dealing with all the fur, is smelly and stressful for me as I'm sure it is for Godfrey. Please, any suggestions would be much appreciated!!!!
post #2 of 13
Take him on walks ....
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
that's a good idea! He has never been on a leash/harness before, though. What are my chances of getting a 6-year-old cat to put up with one of those? :P
post #4 of 13
If you live in a house, you might consider building an outdoor enclosure for him to hang out in. Some of the people on here have built awesome ones.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
That's a wonderful idea. We are about to move into our first home after renting for many years. Our new backyard is securely fenced with lots of trees. An enclosure would be perfect.

Until it gets built, do you think it would suffice to keep him on a very long leash/harness in the backyard? He could still roam, but I wouldn't have to fear him escaping into the neighborhood to be picked up by animal control or attacked by a dog or something.

Thanks for the ideas, folks. I'm glad I signed up here.
post #6 of 13
The enclosure sounds like a great idea. I don't think leaving him alone on a leash would be safe, though. It wouldn't stop dogs or other animals from attacking him, and he might also get the leash tangled up and hurt himself.
post #7 of 13
I don't know that I would leave him on a leash unattended. My parents trained their cat at an older age to wear a harness and go on walks. At first she was stubborn and just go out and lie down in the grass, but now she perks up when she sees them get it out.

Welcome to TCS!
post #8 of 13
Definitely no to leaving him on a leash without you, and doubly no since he is declawed. For several reason; a cat, given enough time, can get out of any harness, he would be a sitting duck, if you aren't home and he gets hot or it rains he can't hide, etc.

An enclosure is a great idea, but I would also consider if there are other reasons for his behaviors and litterbox issues. You may be attributing symptoms of an illness to wanting to go outside.
post #9 of 13
My Seb was indoor-outdoor for 10 years and is now indoor only. It takes some time to adjust but they do adjust. Until you have a safe place for him, I would recommend not allowing him outside. He won't like it since he has had a bit of it, but will do okay.

You may want to have him checked at the vet for the potty behaviors and the fur pulling. Also, Feliway can help with the anxiety. Please let us know how it goes
post #10 of 13
Temper, my white cat is also declawed. About 3 months after I got him from the shelter about 10 yrs ago (he was then 4 or so), he slipped out and even though I searched high and low, he seemed to have disapperead for good. About 2 weeks after I hear this insisting meowing noise. I jump from the couch, open the front door and there he is in all his dirty, skinny glory. He was filthy, he was starved and I don't even know how he survived those two weeks. I remember that it had been very hot. I have no idea where he went or where he was trying to get to. I felt special that he choose to come back home. But now the bug remains. He asks to be let out every night. Because he is declawed and I live beside a park wth lots of kids and skunks I cringe every time I give in to his pleas. Healways stays around the house perimeter and when I go call him, he's at the door. But who knows what can happen. I'm trying to wean him out of the night visits to the outdoors. There are just too many dangers.
post #11 of 13
Seb will sometimes still beg to be let out at night. He has never been outside since we've lived here except on a leash twice. He didn't care for it I cannot give in because we live between two busy streets. Makes it a lot less tempting. He cannot guilt me After a couple of hours, he settles down. This is just the way it has to be.
post #12 of 13
I hear you! I wish Temper would listen too. Just because it's a park doesn;t mean that it's less dangerous. He has escaleted his begging since Dusky showed up, so I'm thinking that a little anxiety has to do with it,
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, everybody, we closed on our first house today! Now I'm looking around for plans for an outdoor enclosure for Godfrey so he can enjoy our big, shady backyard. Does anyone know where I can find plans?

And thanks again for all the advice! You guys are great. So much more responsive than a lot of forums I've visited in the past.
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