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Cat roaming - help long sorry

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm really sorry I've a feeling this is going to be a bit of a long one but I would really appreciate any advice/ suggestions.

My lovely 3 year old cat was hit by a car last year, and had a very badly damaged paw, after much worry expense and 3 months at the vets he has made a good recovery. He has lost part of his paw and has no pads or claws on that paw. He's copes very well and it doesn't seem to bother him, but he does have an obvious limp and as a result can't jump as easily as our other cat. So his wound healed and we started to let him outside a bit again, he was always an indoor/ outdoor cat and very independent. The problem is now he goes out and will not return home on his own. We have to go for a long walk around the area shaking the cat biscuits (looking like crazy people) until he appears, which doesn't always happen. We think this is partly because people round here are very cat friendly and really lovely and he gets a lot of attention and strokes and cuddles when he's out. Also people really worry that he's been hurt recently and we get phonecalls / people returning him about 3-4 times a week. A combination of this we think has made him decide that he doesn't need to make the effort to come home, 'cus someone will come and find him or return him. We also suspect that peolpe are feeling sorry for him and feeding him, as he often misses meals when he goes out. I should also point out that we have moved house since he had his accident to a much more cat friendly area, and in the old house he always returned home and was around and not wandering off.

I must also confess to being a bit of a worrier when we can't find him. I was the person who found him after he's been injured, and it was so horrific and I think it has made me really paranoid that this will happen again . If he wasn't such an adventurer I would quite happily have him as an indoor cat, but I'm very aware that this may not be fair on him, and he's always so desperate to go outside. It's just so hard when he's missing for 24 hours at a time, I get no sleep and am worried sick about it happening again.

So ideally we'd like to re-train him to basically come home when we call, does anyone know how we could go about this? Or would he be better off being an indoor cat? I am reluctant to make him an indoor cat especially since he's only young and was previously an indoor/outdoor cat.

Perhaps I should also say he was a stray who just turned up at our door when he was 1 year old, and we contacted the RSPCA and cats protection etc and nobody had reported him missing so he stayed with us (much to my delight!)

Thank you if you've got this far, I'd really appreciate any suggestions - hope I've made this coherent!
post #2 of 10
Since he's handicapped and cannot really defend himself well, the ideal would be to keep him inside. However, I understand that you want him to have some outside time; so you only have two choices:

1. Build/buy a cat enclosure and let him sit out there for awhile.

2. Train him to a harness/leash and take him out once or twice a day.

IMO he should NOT be roaming outside on his own, even if he's done it in the past. One day he will not return permanently. He has to have some restrictions now - whether he wants to or not!
post #3 of 10
Can you ask that the neighbours not feed him? I know many people over here let the cats out in the morning and they happily come back for tea. But if others are feeding him he really has no need to return.
post #4 of 10
It sounds to me like he is beginning to get attached to one or even two of your neighbors. I agree with missymotus. Your boy will be going back home regularly if he knows it is the only dependable place to get a full meal on time and everyday.
post #5 of 10
If a child is hit by a car, but is still young and feeling adventurous, do you just let him back out to play in the traffic?
post #6 of 10
I trained Rocket to come when called and if he's within hearing range, he does it. I use an electronic clicker that has a particularly loud and high-pitched tone, which carries quite a ways. I ping the clicker, call his name, and give him a treat when he comes. The key is associating his coming with the sound and the treat. Obviously, you can't just start right out. First, you associate the sound and the treat. Then associate coming with the treat. Then tie it all together with the sound, the command, and the treat. Obviously, this only works with a cat who's treat-motivated. And it takes a long time with repeated practice. There must be some articles online about training cats.

But, that's just about training to come. Frankly, with a cat who's missing part of a paw, I'd be leery of allowing him to roam.
post #7 of 10
I think a lot of you missed the sentence or two of him being handicapped with the paw injury from being outside. If he was a 100% healthy cat, it would be different. He's handicapped now and should be more confined and not allowed to go roaming around by himself.
post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
I think a lot of you missed the sentence or two of him being handicapped with the paw injury from being outside.
I did not miss it. It also says that he is okay except for a limp. When my QT (outdoor cat) recovered from her broken leg, she stopped putting herself in situations where she would be in danger of getting the same injury. I think rah's cat is the same.
But if rah's worries are enough to make him decide to keep the cat indoors, then do so.

This thread may turn out to be another indoor/outdoor cat debate.
post #9 of 10
I'm not saying the cat should be kept indoors at all times - what's wrong with training to a harness/leash or a cat enclosure to keep the cat from roaming the entire neighborhood. If I was upset my cat would not come home, then I'd be doing something to KEEP the cat closer to home. My suggestions were pretty clear and valid in this case.

Telling the neighbors not to feed or trying to call the cat home obviously is not working.
post #10 of 10
While I strongly endorse an indoor/outdoor cat when the situation and location allows (ie, in the country, or a more secluded place) and with a cat who will come when called, I don't think this one should be let out. I think that since he does not have the claws on that foot he is even more vulnerable, even if he can walk fine. He is obviously not seeing the need to return home, either. So if would suggest either the enclosure idea, or training him with a leash and harness. That way he can still indulge in some of his adventurous spirit, but you will always know he is safe and sound.

Otherwise, even if he is retrained to come when called, he might still not come home one day.

Just putting in my bit, for what its worth--I'm hoping I'm not helping to start a debate on here :/
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