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Bringing Outdoor kitty indoors

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have a 6 year old spayed, female cat that I have had since she was 6 months old. She was born to a "barn" cat and lived out of doors until she came to live with me. She has always been allowed to go out when she wants to, she likes being outside from spring to fall but always comes in to eat and to sleep. She has always been a good hunter and has kept the house and shed on our property free of mice and most spiders. I did see her catch a bird a few years ago so we have never kept birdhouses. She climbs trees alot and I've seen her walking on our neighbors roofs.

I've noticed her using our's and our neighbor's gardens and compost piles as a bathroom this year. I've never encountered any of her droppings while weeding or planting, I don't know if this is luck or if it decays quickly. Anyhow, the big problem. I saw her come flying over a neighbor's fence this morning and the guy came out and said she was in their birdhouse trying to get at the babies!!!!! Of course he is very upset. He has beautiful gardens and fountains in his yard and I am concerned that she is doing more than chasing birds in his yard.

Is there any way to change this kitty in to an indoor kitty without too much trauma? I'm afraid she is going to make a neighbor very angry and they will take matters in to their own hands, not to mention she is obviously becoming a nusance in my neighborhood. I don't want to find her a new home as I just love her and she is very sweet. We have another cat a few months older than her but this kitty stays pretty close to home and when she does go out she stays in the yard.

I would appreciate any advice on this matter, thank you in advance.
post #2 of 12
First, let me tell you that in my experience with 3 cats already, things were easier than I had thought they would be. The cats took it very naturally and with no problems.

What I would do is try to make a secure outdoors run, connected to the house with a cat flap. It should allow the cat to enjoy the sun and air and sounds of the outside without running free. Another option is to try "fence-in" to fence your yard. It could be expensive if it's a big place, but it would mean your cat can still hunt and prowl in your yard.
post #3 of 12
I agree with Anne, it is best and easiest to let them out but into an enclosure. Being that she has been able to go outdoors for so long, it would be hard to make her stay in all the time. She will probably whine and complain or just sneak out on you. The outdoor enclosures are awsome and if done right, you can even move them with you if you decide to move.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
This is a great idea! If done right I will be able to let my dogs out in to it as well. I have tried to keep her (Josie) in today and she is crying like mad and has escaped once already. I work at home so it's not like I am gone and can ignore her all day.

Thanks for this great advice. I've already checked the "store" on this site and they don't have any plans or runs for sale(I would order from this site if possible to give them the "business"). I am going to look for some plans and see if I can get my husband to help me build this. Again, it will be great for my little dogs as well.

Thanks again for this great advice, I will keep you posted on my progress and hers!

post #5 of 12
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for this link-it gave me some great ideas for building my own. What a great project for 4th of July weekend!

Thanks again.
post #7 of 12

The cat enclosure site is a beauty! Thanks for posting that.

I was in the situation 2 years ago of moving from a totally safe area for cats to one that was not quite so safe (some light traffic and neighbourhood dogs) so decided to try to convert my sole remaining cat, a 12 yo, to staying indoors at night - the day time wasn't a problem as she wants to sleep in the house anyway. Well, she didn't appreciate it and I felt very bad about it. So with my limited carpentry skills I set to and built an enclosure for her accessible to the house via a cat flap. I made it 6 feet high with an inturning panel at the top - couldn't roof it in entirely because uprights would have interfered with other uses of the area - and the inturning part is needed too prevent the cat climbing up then out. I basically just used steel posts (star pickets) and wire netting and have to admit it works brilliantly well. I was able to incorporate one side of the house so it's ended up quite a big area - about 20ft x 30ft, even has grass and a natural soil litter area. My old cat is moderately happy with this arrangement and I've since acquired another 3 young cats who know nothing about being right outside at night so are very happy being able to come and go to the enclosure.

Let me know, anyone, if you want more details about the enclosure. It was very cheap to build. Oh - a warning about wire netting - it's cheap but doesn't mix with cat collars, which are probably best removed for safety.
post #8 of 12
I live with 15 indoor cats of all ages (from 4mos to 15 yrs). I used to let my cats outdoors until I had 2 poisoned. Both survived but it was emotionally upsetting as well as quite expensive. One I lost 9 months later due to kidney failure. At that time I decided my gang would not go outside anymore. I have created a kitty haven with many toys, scratching posts, and outside bird feeders and baths. This way they can watch the wildlife but cannot injure them. We have extra wide windowsills that they can perch on also. I even have 2 cats that were feral and live trapped. They have adapted well to the indoors and the other animals but not completely trusting of the humans. We very rarely have a "great escape" but when that has happened, when they come back they don't ever seem to try to leave again~~it's a scary world out there. I have found that cats of all ages can adapt to the permanent indoors if you provide them with "fun" things. They also have each other to play with as well as their human family.
post #9 of 12
I just wanted to warn you that you need to be careful. My cat used to be an outdoor cat, like yours she would hunt she would kill anything that was in our yard that shouldn't be(prairie dogs, mice, spiders and the occasionally bird). When we moved and she had to be an indoor cat she was tramitized, she used to be the nicest cat, now she is mean and scratches anyone outside the family. The outdoor run sounds like a great idea!

btw, does anyone know of anything i could do for her?
post #10 of 12
Yeah, thats really hard for them. Cats who are raised indoors and supplied with posts,toys and things to climb really never miss the outdoors. They have fun hunting socks, toy mice and such. A cat who has grown used to being outside will long for it unless they have a bad experience and decide the indoors is much better.
Besides the outdoor enclosure you can try building or buying a tower for her to climb. Give her safe things to hunt such as toys. You can also try the bachs rescue remedy to help make her less anxious. You can find it in most health food stores. It is an all natural relaxer. It may help with the transition. The post didn't say, so I will throw in that cats are also more content and calm when spayed or neutered.
post #11 of 12
I have been wracking my brains for how to build an enclosure that would connect to the house by a cat door AND run to places the cats can enjoy as outside. The best climbing trees are on the other side of a lawn, and the bushes are all along the outer walls (which have fencing on top of them). I have a problem with my present fence, which runs all around the property, because if there is evey the smallest hole or unsecured join, the cats will ultimately find it and make a hole. They are also surprisingly good diggers when they feel motivated.

I like the idea of the in-folded top of the wire fencing. That kind of fencing is extremely expensive here, but I am stimulated by you collective ideas. I would be very much happier if I could keep the cats from going out of the yard. It is, after all, over half an acre, and should provide sufficient range for everyone...

thanks for this discussion and the website for enclosure ideas.
post #12 of 12
Catherine, hi, unless steel posts (star pickets) and wire netting (light guage is okay for cats) are very expensive there it shouldn't cost much to build an enclosure if you can DIY. Once you start paying labour then that is where the expense will be. I just drove 8ft posts into the ground with a sledge hammer (you need to stand on a stepladder to start them off - a bit precarious) until 6 ft was left protruding, and attached shelf brackets (available from any hardware store here) to the tops with tie-wire - but no doubt there's something better or different that could be used - you need something attached to the top of the posts which turns in for at least a foot, 2 is better, then drape the wire netting over the lot and secure it here and there with tie-wire. You may need to place logs or bricks or something at ground level to stop attempts at digging out (yes, cats are quite remarkable diggers).

Another idea I've seen if you want cats to access an area away from the house is a netting tunnel exiting from a cat flap and running to wherever, then opening out into the desired area which is fenced appropriately. I reckon it would be easy enough to build such a tunnel with wire netting or chicken wire.

http://www.catfencein.com/ is another site I found for cat fencing, you may be able to utilise the idea.

(Sorry about the feet and inches, you're probably metric there like Australia actually is, but I grew up with the old imperial system and it remains much more meaningful for me.
Hope this helps
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