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Help on turning Indoor cat into Outdoor cat

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hello! I am new to the site and would like some advice on how to approach a future problem with my beautiful cat Annabelle. I recently got engaged to a wonderful man who has a very unfortunate problem...He is SEVERELY allergic to cats! He has been taking allergy shots for the last year, which have helped substantially, but the poor guy still sneezes and falls apart if he is around Annabelle too much. I love Annabelle, but unfortunately she is going to have to become an outside kitty. That being said, one of the criteria for us in house-buying is a large screened in porch or sunroom. We are going to install a kitty door from the porch to the back yard so that she has shelter. I have also looked into special "kitty fences" to put up if our fence isnt tall enough or if she is able to sink her claws into it to climb. Of course on cold nights, we will bring her in, but in Charleston there arent many. It is very important to us to ensure her safety and well being. ANy advice on how to help the transition? It is still months away but I feel guilty every time I look at her now. Also, how hard is it going to be to separate her from my current roomate's kitty?? They have been together since they were 8 weeks old, for about 2 1/2 years now. Any advice would be appreciated!
post #2 of 27
Is she declawed?

If so, I would not let her be an outdoor kitty. She'd be better placed in a homme where no one is allergic. Feral and territorial neighborhood cats will beat up on her, and she'll be more likely to get diseases. If she can defend herself she's less likely to get beat on.

And I'm sure you know this but if she's an outdoor kitty she needs ALL her shots and flea protection.

Otherwise, I have no idea. She may resent that she's not allowed in the house and manifest behavioral problems. Honestly, IMO, I think the best thing for HER would be to place her in a home where she can maintain her indoor lifestyle.
post #3 of 27
I would try something like allerpet it is a shampoo like substance that helps with dander ... you just wipe it on the cat..
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
She is not declawed...I would never even consider putting her outside if she was. She loves to go out on our screened in porch now and is always meowing to go out when we have the door to the screen door closed. Im taking that as something positive. I have already thought about the shot thing and would definitly make sure that was done first! My roomate has offered to keep her when we leave, but I am going to see how she does first. If she is depressed or starts acting out, it is nice to know that she has a place to go! I am going to make sure she will be safe within the fence. Has anybody used or heard of catfencein.com or similar products to keep cats within the back yard? I feel terrible about this but it would be so hard to leave her behind!! As far as the allerpet...it would be worth a shot. Its just that my fiance is so sensitive to dander that he starts sneezing even when he goes into a home that a cat used to live in.
post #5 of 27
Since she seems to like to go outside, it may not be difficult. Getting her to use a cat door may take some training though, unless she's already used to that.
post #6 of 27
Thats to bad . I'm sure she will adjust just fine as cats do tend to be happy outside even if there are more dangers. This is a pretty neat fence, not sure if its the one you were referencing:
http://www.purrfectfence.com/
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by alainchas
Hello! I am new to the site and would like some advice on how to approach a future problem with my beautiful cat Annabelle. I recently got engaged to a wonderful man who has a very unfortunate problem...He is SEVERELY allergic to cats! He has been taking allergy shots for the last year, which have helped substantially, but the poor guy still sneezes and falls apart if he is around Annabelle too much. I love Annabelle, but unfortunately she is going to have to become an outside kitty. That being said, one of the criteria for us in house-buying is a large screened in porch or sunroom. We are going to install a kitty door from the porch to the back yard so that she has shelter. I have also looked into special "kitty fences" to put up if our fence isnt tall enough or if she is able to sink her claws into it to climb. Of course on cold nights, we will bring her in, but in Charleston there arent many. It is very important to us to ensure her safety and well being. ANy advice on how to help the transition? It is still months away but I feel guilty every time I look at her now. Also, how hard is it going to be to separate her from my current roomate's kitty?? They have been together since they were 8 weeks old, for about 2 1/2 years now. Any advice would be appreciated!
I understand what you are going through. I had two indoor cats and my husband developed allergies to the cats. At first we didn't realize what was causing his problems. I tried special filters for the heat/ac unit in the house, air purifiers and all sorts of things. He took two prescription meds. He brought home a stray cat one day and we decided rather than try to put another cat inside we would buy the cat fence in system. We did that and he installed it. Finally we realized that it was the cats causing his sinus problems. The house was carpeted and I vacummed frequently, like every day. He was better, but still having to take the meds. We built a house three years ago. There is no carpet. When we moved the cats were put outside within the fence using the same cat fence in system. He quit taking the meds one month after we moved into the new house. As for the cats, of course the stray one adapted well. The two inside cats loved it. The climbed up the fence, but once they realized they were confined, they quit trying to get out. We have only had minor problems and that was two times we had a strange cat get inside the fence. The first one caused a cat fight with my little cat who was the stray and we had some vet bills to pay, but all was fine. After a few adjustments to the fence, there were no more problems.
Once since we moved, we had the same problem. We were here and spotted the strange cat before it could cause any problems. My husband adjusted the fence system and all has been well since. Now your cats do need to have the shots and of course a good flea treatment like advantage or frontline. But I think they will surprise you how well they will do. My cats have been outside now for about five years and they have adapted well.
People with cat allergies only get better when they are not exposed to the cats and their dander. You know, we love our cats, but they are cats. It is not worth making a person sick to try and have them inside.
I am hoping for the best for you and your cats.
post #8 of 27
Check with your vet, there is also something you can put on her coat to cut down on the allergens. If you plan to let her out, please consider microchipping her first. This way if for some reason she gets picked up, she will be returned to you.

Good Luck!
post #9 of 27
Why in the world would you think its the best thing to do is turn an indoor cat into an outside cat? If they have been inside their entire life, they have NO clue how to survive outside.

The best thing you can do with your cats is to give them to a friend who will keep them indoors. Its the kindest thing you can do! Your cat has no clue how to deal with seasonsed outside cats, stray dogs, automobiles, or people who hate cats and would hurt them.
post #10 of 27
I have to agree with Golden. There is a huge difference between kittys that have been permanantly indoors and seasoned outdoor kittys. Chances for survival will be slim if you throw her to the to the wolves like that. There are allergy meds out there. Rehoming is another option, one I would never chose.

What ever you decide please dont force her outside.
post #11 of 27
I think given everything, it may be in your cat's best interests to stay with your roommate. Leaving her kitty buddy will be tough on her, transitioning to outdoor life will be just plain dangerous for a cat who has never been outdoors before. If she doesn't make the transition successfully she will end up getting killed out there. The stakes are just too high. If your fiance's allergies cannot be managed with medication, then I think your roommate will be in the best position to give your cat the best possible life.
post #12 of 27
I personally would never let my cats outside. Too many dangers.
post #13 of 27
It would certainly be bad to "throw her to the wolves", but it has not been stated that she has never been outside before.

There are many dangers outdoors, however these differ from place to place. I would never let my cats out in the inner city, full of cars and psycho teenagers, but where i live, in the suburbs with six acres, my two barn cats are quite safe. And the dogs keep away the predators.

That said, i definitely believe it is better to keep furbabies inside when possible.

alainchas, where do you live? I mean, what part of the city?
post #14 of 27
My babies are outdoor/indoor cats. They weren't, when I lived in a different suburb, but here they are fine. They wander in and out as they please during the day (they are in at night) and they never go any further than our front yard, or the yard of the five houses directly next to and opposite us. These seem to be the boundaries of their territory.

There are lots of other outside cats around and although there is the occasional growl they seem to respect each other's boundaries. A car goes by maybe once a week...lol.

So I think if you're living in an area where there are few cars, and you intend to keep your kitty in your yard with proper fencing/enclosures like you stated, then she should be fine. She'll probably love it, actually, although I would suggest that you find a way to have her in at night because that is when they like to hunt and you do have a responsibility with your cat to not let it eat the wildlife around.

In Australia cats have a curfew and must be in at night by law.
post #15 of 27
Outdoor cats do not have a long life span. Why would you want to take a indoor cat and make it an outdoor cat. It won't survive. I would find a very good home for your cat. Not a shelter, but a good home!

Personally, I would try everything to solve the problem. Please don't put her out of the house, your cat loves you unconditionally.

I am allergic to my cats(I have 7) I take medicine for it.
post #16 of 27
I'm sorry you have to make such a tough choice. If she tolerates bathing, or having the allergy wipes used on her, hopefully you could give that a shot before making the more difficult choice.

I can't give advice other than to choose whichever option you think would make your cat happiest. If she would enjoy being outoors with the protection of the cat-proof fence, that's definitely an option, or if you think she & your roommate (and her cat) get along well and might like to stay together that might be better. If the cats are very attached to each other, that might be best.

I don't know how many people responding understand that allergies can have different levels of severity, anywhere from being a mild annoyance to being life-threatening.

Both my husband & I are allergic to cats and we are fortunately able to control it with medication, bathing the cats, allergy shots, and keeping the cats out of the bedroom.

But I have known some people who break into sneezing fits just from being near me because of the cat dander on my clothes. For someone like that, or for someone who suffers from severe asthma or recurring infections, it's not as simple as just taking medicine - such people have no choice but to avoid exposure to cats for the sake of their health. A severely allergic cat owner doesn't do anyone (even the cat) any favors spending all his or her time in the hospital trying to deny there's a problem.
post #17 of 27
If you're moving into a house, then I see no reason why a cat fence wouldn't work for you. I wouldn't let my cat out without an enclosure, though, too many dangers. My husband was allergic to cats, but we decided to get two cats anyway, and his allergies have gone away completely. He can even go to other peoples' houses who have cats and not have a problem at all.
post #18 of 27
Um, I think a lot of the people responding must not have read your whole post, only the title. To everyone: she isn't suggesting she's just going to throw the cat outside and say "good luck", she's talking about getting a fence system so that her kitty will be outside but confined to the backyard with a screened in porch area for shelter. With a fence system to keep your kitty from roaming and getting injured, and regular vaccinations and flea medication, it should be OK. She may even enjoy it! I'd say your biggest transition issue is actually going to be separation from her buddy. She may get lonely back there by herself. If the outdoor arrangement seems to be working out, you may actually want to get a second kitty of similar age so that your current kitty isn't alone.
post #19 of 27
My son's best friend developed severe allergies to their cat. She has successfully transitioned from being a house cat to living in one (large) room, with access to the fenced in yard. It is not even a cat proof fence, but she never leaves the safety of the yard, which she shares with a german shepard who keeps possible predators at bay. She remains very happy, as is the family, because they did not want to lose her.

Of course you wouldn't throw your precious kitty outside without preparing her. But I think that if she enjoys the sunroom, it is very likely that she will enjoy a protected outside area to play. Honestly, I wish I had such an area for my kitties, who were born inside and have never been out. I would be adding it to their time indoors, because no one here is allergic.

And having the back-up plan of returning her to your current roommate and her kitty is the final reassuring part of the post.

I don't know if you want to try walking her outside on a harness, or something like that to help the transition. It might be better just to get a room for her at the new house that is easily cleaned and not carpeted. And give it several weeks for her to adjust to the new home, the loss of her kitty friend, and time both in the new room and outside in the safe enclosure. Be sure you spend quality time with her, whether drinking your morning cup of coffee outside with her, or reading outside in the evenings, so she doesn't feel alone. And maybe once you know the transition is going ok, both kitties can get a new kitty companion to keep them company.
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thank you all for the posts and advice. This weekend my fiance and I found our house and are going to be able to watch it being built. It is very exciting. We have a large screened in porch and our backyard backs up to woods, but will have a 6' privacy fence. I have been thinking about the situation with Annabelle and I just have a hard time with her being outside unsupervised. My fiance and I talked about it a lot and I think we have decided to keep her in the screened in porch unless we are right next to her outside (this includes keeping her on the porch at night). We found some great kitty jungle gyms to put on the porch and it is a large enough area for her to run and play. My fiance has a job where he is usually only out for a few hours a day, so he can spend some time with her on the porch. In extreme cold/heat, the house has some places to bring her in for the night. We also have talked about getting her a companion after we get back from the honeymoon (most likely a dog). We have at least 6 months until the house is done. My fiance and I dont want to leave her with my roommate until first trying the new arrangement. He loves her very much and despite his allergies, has spent a lot of time with her in the last two years and she has grown very attached to him. It had not been too bad, because when he starts a sneezing fit, we could leave and go to his place, but we wont be able to once we live together. But after much thought, I think I will keep her on the porch unless we can be there to watch her outside. Its not so much the fear of her getting out, but it's other animals getting in. By the way, we will be living in a quiet neighborhood...no busy streets, a lot of houses.
post #21 of 27
Sounds like a better alternative. There are outside enclosures you can buy, you can also build them. We had inside-outside kitties for a long time, but last year the area really became dangerous for them, and we lost some wonderful cats. So we bit the bullet and built an enclosure from scratch. Yes, it was expensive, all told probably $2,500.00 but much cheaper than the vet bills for car accidents, euthanasia, cat bites, and poisonings.. Not to mention peace of mind-

Cat Enclosure

If you have property and can build a shelter that will keep her safe that would be the way to go. Cats can tear screens fairly easily, especially when they see other cats outside. Allerpet is also a viable option. It does work-
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ive thought about her tearing through screens, but I am encouraged by the fact that she does great on our screened on porch at our current apartment. We are on the second floor right by a tree and she has birds and squirrels that tease and taunte her. She just sort of "chitters" at them and watches. She can see stray cats walking around below, but not up right against the screen. The two cats havent even scratched the screen yet. Hopefully we will have the same behavior in the new house. Annabelle is such a well behaved cat. She is almost dog-like..for example if you tell her to "come here", she will. She is a very independent cat but also likes attention when shes ready. My roomate's cat is siamese and is the opposite...very needy and sometimes has the worst behavior...but she is so cute!
post #23 of 27
That sounds good!

One thing to think about - if you think you'll ever have any occasion to leave her out in the yard unsupervised, you'll probably want to install a lockable cat door in the porch so she can get back in safely if an owl or hawk comes by. Then you could lock her back in the porch when you want to keep her in.

I'm sure he already knows this, but just in case - just having your fiance be careful not to touch his face after handling the cat until he's washed his hands can make a big difference. DH will forget sometimes and rub his nose or eyes without washing his hands first, and he'll start sneezing and his eyes will turn red.

Also, cutting down on exposure to anything else he's allergic to can help by reducing his overall allergy 'load' - for example, if he's allergic to dust mites, avoiding carpet and using allergy bed coverings and air filters in the house can help. The cats tend to bother us the most during the times of year our other allergies are at their worst.
post #24 of 27
I am allergic to cats and have three of them. LOL Your fiance might want to see if prolonged exposure suppresses his allergies -- it has mine. Or, perhaps all my friends with kids were right when they tell me to have kids because "It's different when they're your own." lmao (EDITED TO ADD that I agree with tuxedokitties -- I don't touch my face after I've handled the cats. No sense in looking for trouble. I wash my hands frequently each day, too, whether I'm handling them or not).

Before I had my three, when I would go to people's houses who had cats, I almost always had to leave before I wanted to, because my eyes were watery and itching. I keep my house clean, but it's no antiseptic showcase. I think I just got lucky and was able to rescue three little kitties -- one at a time -- who needed a home.
post #25 of 27
Sounds like you are making every effort to keep Annabelle safe. We recently built a 6 foot high enclosure with an extension at right angles so the cats can't climb out. Our two, who were strictly indoor up to that point, love it and spend ages outside. However, I won't leave them out if we aren't home. I think your solution of keeping Annabelle on the sun porch is great, but companionship will be key -- another cat or dog. Congratulations on you and your fiance being so devoted to your kitty! And congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
post #26 of 27
My hsuband is allergic to my cats but he takes medications. I would never marry someone who would insist I makwe my cats go outside - there are just too many dangers and it is not fair to the cat. I know you mean well though and are in a tough spot.
post #27 of 27
I have heard of people who re-acclimate themselves to kitties. If your finace is willing, have him spent a few mniutes each day for a week or so with the kitty. Over time, he can increase the amount of time he spends with Annabelle & *hopefully* he will eventually get used to her.

Companionship for Annabelle would be best. When Twitch needed companionship, I finally did something I had wanted to do for a long time-I bought Gerbils. Although Gerbils probably wouldn't be the best choice in your situation, it is a great idea.

There are cat doors that have a chip to place on a collar that only allows an animal wearing that collar through the door. That way Annabelle would be the only creature to get through the door.
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