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Destroying the screen door, constant crying

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
(yes, she's been spayed)

I adore her, but sweet little Felixia is really wearing my patience thin...

I made the mistake of letting her out in the back yard a few times because the weather was nice, and she loved it, rolling in the dirt, sharpening her claws on the trees, nibbling on the grass, and chasing the dogs around the yard.

She's been a completely indoor cat ever since I found her 14 years ago, but since we have a yard with a tall wood fence, I figured it would be OK to let her out as long as I could watch her & catch her if she tried to jump the fence.


Now, she's decided she wants out all the time - she wanders around the house meowing forlornly at the top of her lungs asking to be let out again all day long. She's begun dashing out the back door between our feet, and today she tore up the sliding screen door by taking a flying leap onto it and hanging from the screen near the ceiling (she's still pretty athletic for a 17-year-old cat), ripping holes in the screen and pulling it loose from its frame.

1) What can I do to keep her off the screen door? Mosquitoes are really bad here, so we really need to keep the screens intact.

2) How can I get her to stop the howling?

3) Will continuing to let her outside for supervised outings help, or just make the problem worse? Should I just try to get her to forget about the outdoors, now that she's rediscovered it?

Inside, she has a ton of toys, scratching posts, a climbing tree, a Feliway diffuser, and three other cats and two dogs to play with.

Letting her out unsupervised is not an option. She's getting old, plus she's not the least bit afraid of strange dogs or strange people - that's fine with our own dogs, but I'm afraid other dogs in the neighborhood might not be quite so gentle, and to be honest I worry about what some people might do to a friendly cat, too.

Any help or ideas appreciated!
post #2 of 8
Oh, I'm having the same problem with Chesty (and, to a certain extent, Ziv). When we first got Chesty, I thought he had probably been an indoor/outdoor cat with his first family, so I went out and bought a leash and harness. The torrential rain here in PA stalled the plans to start taking him out, and in the mean time he calmed down a lot. Well, this past weekend, the bf and I started taking him out, and now Chesty walks around the house, crying, 50% of the time. I try to distract him with intense play sessions, but he'll just take a time-out and go back to the crying later. I don't have time to take him out for more than 15 or 20 minutes a day, and that's not enough to satisfy him--plus, I may end up moving from the suburbs into the city, which would make it much harder to take him out.

Ziv always seemed perfectly content to be a totally indoor kitty until he saw Chesty going out. My bf took him out once and now he tries to get out every time we open the door, and meows by the door once in a while. It's hard to leave for work with my bag on my shoulder and my coffee mug in my hand with two rascals trying to sneak out!

I'm starting to think we might just have to stop taking them out. I think they'll adjust back and it will be less stressful for everyone involved. But, I don't really have the answers on this, so I'm pretty much just sympathizing with you and hoping for some good answers!
post #3 of 8
I got my at at 8 weeks and right from the get go she would try and run out our apartment door! I can't go in or out without her trying to run into the hallway. So now when I leave I have to take a ball with me to the door and throw it into our living room so I can sneak out!

I just got a harness and leash to take her out on our deck when I'm out there, and now I'm wondering if I'm asking for trouble....???
post #4 of 8
A friend of mine who allows her kids outside (under supervision) has trained them that they cannot go out without their "t-shirt" (which is a cat harness). They would also cry and hang on the screen to go out, but once they realized they couldn't go out without their t-shirt on, they now pick it up and carry it to their human mom. It gave them an alternative from crying and screen climbing (which didn't do them any good). It took her a few months to condition them this way. Not sure if that will work for you, but may be worth a try.
post #5 of 8
What about putting up a fence? Like this one ?
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Amy, that makes such a cute story! I wonder if it would work for her...should be worth trying, at least. She is a pretty smart cat - hopefully she'd figure it out. I do have a harness for her in a box somewhere, I'll just have to find it. Thanks for posting.

Yayi, thank you for posting that link - it's very good. That's another great idea for us to consider, too.
post #7 of 8
try this link and see if you can find an answer

post #8 of 8
I also recently read about these outdoor thingys in Drs Foster & Smith's catalog.

One interesting suggestion was to have a cat door that opens into one of these little "containment" pens so kitty can go in and out and he/she pleases.

Of course, my big fear is exactly what you're saying... that once you let them out they don't want to be an indoor-only cat. I went through that with Comere (RB) when he went to live with my dad for a short while -- my father refused to do the "litterbox" thing and said Comere would have to be an outdoor cat. After that, he was never an indoor-only cat again.
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