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Would walking help a cat who bolts for the door?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I had a good scare tonight when Sammy decided to bolt out the door, making this my 3rd heart attack in the 3 years we've had him.

When we adopted Sammy, he came from a home where he was allowed to be an indoor/outdoor cat. Since he has been outside before, he knows what to expect and runs as far and as fast as possible. Luckily, the first two times, we recovered Sammy pretty quickly thanks to some speedy running and matrix type leaps through the air.

Tonight, he managed to bolt out while the dog was going out to pee. We have about 10 feet of grass behind the townhouse which steeply slopes off into scruffy shrubs and trees. With it being nearly pitch dark and (presumably) unexpected underbrush, by the time I got down the slope calling to Sammy, he darted away and ran back up to the back door. Thank goodness. I don't know what I would have done if he'd done his standard run to the next county.

When we first got Sammy, we had a talk about getting him a cat walking jacket (http://www.catwalkingjacket.com/) since he did like to be outside and those had gotten good reviews. We came to the conclusion that allowing him any outside time might only make the bolting for the door worse. Our compromise for Sammy was buying a few window seats and cat trees so he can sit at the open window (which he loves). After this last escapade, i'm revisiting the idea of the walking jacket again. The only way i'd consider it is suiting him up, putting him in a cat carrier, then letting him out once outside. I'm still on the fence though if allowing him some outside time would help or hurt?

Does anyone have a similar cat or experience?
post #2 of 11
Mine don't bolt and never have, they do go out on harness. The harness is put on right before we go out and removed soon as we come back in. They have learnt that harness=outside time.
post #3 of 11
Harness training should be done indoors first. There is a process you can go through which will acclimate your cat to the harness without him freaking out. But, your cat needs to be of a certain temperment and pretty fearless. usually harness training starts with young kittens but older cats can also adapt. If they are the right type. Is there anyway you can provide him even a small cat enclosure outside? Extending your front entranceway to a covered cat-proof porch perhaps? Back in the day, we made a small enclosure in the back and used trellis panels. Not only was it effective in keeping the cats contained and happy, but it was pretty darn nice looking as well.
post #4 of 11
Taking them outside can make the problem worse, although one thing might help. If you're going to harness train them, get a harness with a bell on it. Then, when you're ready to take him outside, shake the harness to call him. They learn pretty quickly that getting the harness on means they get to go outside, and will actually wait by an open door for you to put it on them!
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have no doubts that harness training would be a breeze. I'm not concerned about that.

I would love to have a cat porch. If I owned, rather than rented, I would build a cat proof enclosure in a heartbeat. Off the top of my head, the only enclosure that would work would be the dog crate, which I don't think would make any more difference than sitting in the open window.
post #6 of 11
In my personal experience, taking them out on a leash can make it worse. They assume that they can go out with or without the leash/jacket/harness on and that's when they start strutting out the door at any time. Thankfully, my cats are terrified of outdoors and learned quickly that inside is the place to be.

However, I recently took Ramsey to the vet on a leash rather than in a carrier (it seems to be less stressful for him). He has NOT darted since then; in fact, when we got home and he realized where he was, he darted TO the door and started scratching to be let in while my husband was trying to unlock the door. So, it could go either way. I think the bell mentioned above is a brilliant idea; much like a can opener, when he hears it, he should come running!
post #7 of 11
A large dog crate right outside the door is not a bad idea, as long as he's safe from any neighboring cats, etc.

Having a panicked cat on the other end of a leash from you can quickly turn into a wrestling match with a running chain saw.
post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by missymotus View Post
Mine don't bolt and never have, they do go out on harness. The harness is put on right before we go out and removed soon as we come back in. They have learnt that harness=outside time.
same here. i actually harness trained her because she started to bolt towards the door, and if she ever got out, I wanted her to know how to get back home. knowing she enjoys the outdoor, i microchipped her and have a breakaway collar on her. since she gets her regular harness time outside she's been much less inclined to charge the door when I come in/out
post #9 of 11
Loudmouth, the current momma cat and the ONLY unaltered pet in my home, has been getting more and more restless as the weeks go by. She has been an exclusively indoor cat since the last 3 weeks of her pregnancy, and the kitten will be 6 weeks old this week. (9 weeks of restriction on a former stray! Oh noes!)

After the incident where she ripped out the screen, I realized that Loudmouth really does need some time outside. I regular puppy harness works well for her. As soon as she sees it she comes to me and sits down. When it's on her though, it's game time. She's at that door and pulling on the leash. I let her out about the same time everyday. When she comes back in she is much calmer and doesn't beg to be let out unless I go outside.

Harnessed walks have been a truly great thing for her, and after only 2 times of trying it, she figured out the routine. I hope you have similar success with your kitty.
post #10 of 11
Hello, newbie here - first post!

When Carly was over 6 months old, the plan was for having her be an indoor cat only. Well I found out she was scared of the outside, and I thought this is not good for Carly to be afraid. So I bought a harness and took her outside on it. She did pretty good, so we went out every day. When we got her used to the outdoors, she decided she was an outdoor cat. She rushed the door every chance she got. We were blocking the door as we would enter/exit. And she was hurting herself running into the sliding glass door. You could tell she was coming away dazed. This went on for some time. She started rushing the bedroom door if I was trying to keep her in there. She seemed like a crazed maniac. So, I let her out supervised and tried to teach her that cars were bad. what can you do? She is now an indoor/outdoor cat. She can now open the screen to get in and out, so we have to shut the glass to keep her in at night, but she doesn't generally rush the door anymore. Now the trick would be if she closed the door behind her. Now that's the ticket!

Sammy in Hawaii
post #11 of 11
Wow, this thread has me re-thinking my plans to harness walk my cats. I just had two walking jackets delivered last week.

My cats do sneak out the door when I walk in. I haven't done much to discourage it (someone recommended water squirts which I'm loathe to do...) since I live in an apartment building and once they make their great escape, it's only to the tiny lobby. Officially they do get some play time in the lobby since I worry that they are bored with my little apartment. When it's official, I carry them out in the carrier to the lobby. The lobby is only only accessed by two other apartments and I let out them out when I know my neighbors are at work or in the early weekend mornings. They are 100% supervised. This has been the stopgap measure for harness walking...and now I need to decide to whether to proceed...
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