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Indoor/Outdoor decision - looking for suggestions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have a 4-5 year old small female indoor cat who has her claws. I just moved to a new residence where there is another cat that is indoor/outdoor with access via a cat door. For starters I've kept my cat away from the cat door (and mostly away from the other cat too) because I've heard from multiple people that cats sometimes run away if they don't realize where home is.

How long should one wait before allowing an adult cat who was previously obligate indoor to become outdoor as well?

I am having serious doubts about whether I want her going out at all because of health and safety issues. But for logistical reasons, short of completely separating the two cats, I don't see how I can prevent it. We are trying to do the one-way cat door for now, but during the daytime that is not practical. We considered the magnetic collar idea, but apparently the resident outdoor cat refuses to wear a collar and will pull it off.

Thanks for your suggestions.

I'm new to this forum - I'm sorry if this has been addressed before - checked recent posts and did not see it.
post #2 of 9
If you have been there at least 6 weeks, you can allow her to have access to the cat door. She won't run away but there are obvious risks.

One thing that is necessary is for her to be indoors at night. Close the cat door and keep both cats in. During the day it is not so dangerous outdoors.
post #3 of 9
Not so sure that it is not so dangerous during the day.
My black cat was a runaway & lived outdoors. She was "adopted" by the orange male tabby that came with my house, so I fed them & took them in at night.
Velvet was struck by cars twice in 6 months, both times during broad daylight.
(After the second hit & repair, my vet told me she had used up 8 of her lives & to keep her inside the rest of her life.)
The orange tabby was also hit once, but I didn't know him well enough to tell.

In addition, daylight is no obstacle to catfights, especially if there is a cat in heat in the vicinity. This may lead to bites, which is how FIV is passed from cat to cat.

Then there are the dangers of stray dogs & children who tink teasing & chasing animals is fun. This can lead to your cat being injured or chased too far away to find its way home.
post #4 of 9
Our cats are indoor/outdoor. Many people will urge you to try to keep your cat in. I'm not going to try to convince you one way or the other, but should you decide to let her try the outdoors, here are some suggestions.

You've hit on the most important thing already: that the cat needs to know where home is, and be able to get in without fuss.

What we do when there are new cats in the household, or when we move with cats to a new neighbourhood, is to make sure that the cat knows the indoors quite well first, and feels at home there. Then, when the weather is nice enough to leave a door open for a short while, open the door that gives onto a quiet area of the property and watch while the cat checks it out.

She'll be quite cautious at first. As she develops more confidence, follow her around. Make the first exploration fairly short -- 10 or 15 minutes max. Do it again, soon.

As her confidence increases, it's time to show her the cat door, and how it works. Introduce her from the outside, so that she is going to familiar, friendly, safe territory. It will take some encouragement at first -- push the door open and put your hand through it to show her that there's a passage there -- hold it open and encourage her to try -- smelly treats on the other side help especially if you can station someone else there to help coax her through.

Some cats pick up on it very quickly, others take a little longer. Ours still prefer to have a human open a regular door, but in the absence of the human, the cat door beats having to cross your legs (they prefer to do their business outdoors, though at this time of year -- squelch, squelch -- they do deign to use a litter box occasionally).

All that said, you may discover when you offer the open door that your little one isn't particularly interested. Not all cats are. Living in a household where there is a cat coming and going, though, it might still be a good idea to give her another couple of exposures to the outdoors, just so she knows what's there. We took in two fellows who had been indoors for six years -- one took to the outdoors like a duck to water, the other went out occasionally for a munch of grass, if a human was around, but seldom on his own.

Good luck with your decision, and the intros, if you decide to do that.
post #5 of 9

How long should one wait before allowing an adult cat who was previously obligate indoor to become outdoor as well?

You should absolutely NOT allow your cat to go outdoors. You should discourage her from going out the cat door. You could squirt her when she gets curious about it. It is a big mistake to leave your cat ourdoors when so many things can happen. I just read a post where a cat was nearly killed by a dog. I used to allow my senior cat out on the back porch because I knew she wouldn't go anywhere, and guess what, she drank the water our of a plant saucer, picked up a bacteria and it almost killed her! We had diarrea and had to take antibiotics, which I didn't think were going to work. The vet just about gave up on her saying the symptoms shouldn't last so long, she must have something else, wanted to do bloodwork etc. Gratefully, she recovered. Anyway, don't learn the hard way, take my advice and probably many others, keep your cat inside. YOu are risking it's life by not doing so.
post #6 of 9
I don't recommend ANY cats go outside, unless they are feral cats that can't come in for whatever reason....too dangerous!
post #7 of 9
I have inside cats, and outside cats, but none who go in and out. Two of my three inside cats were born inside, and have always been in. The third was caught at 5 weeks, and has been inside ever since. I do not think they could survive outside.

Has your girl been inside the entire 4-5 years? If so, it would be very difficult for her to become an in and out cat. Is there a way you can keep her away from the kitty door? Or close it, and let the other cat learn to be let in and out by the regular door, so you can control which kitty gets out?

If you decide to let her be an in and out kitty, you will have to spend lots of time with her outside so she learns the area.
post #8 of 9
I would NOT let her outdoors. Every "owned" cat should be an inside cat, IMO. I would say the only possible exception for me would be cats who have access to a safe and secure outside enclosure.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. I am inclined to agree with you all. I really don't want Necco going outside. I am just a bit worried about inconveniencing new housemates since the other cat here is in/out and it means that lots of caution needs to be taken... but Necco is not incredibly smart, as cats go, and I am really worried about her getting lost or hurt.

Think I'm going to try to work out an arrangement such as the ones you all have suggested for keeping her in.

Originally Posted by lionessrampant
I would NOT let her outdoors. Every "owned" cat should be an inside cat, IMO. I would say the only possible exception for me would be cats who have access to a safe and secure outside enclosure.
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