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Train Indoor Cat To Be Outdoor Cat

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've had my wonderful male cat for almost 6 years now since he was a small kitten. He's always been an indoor cat, but I need to train him to be an outdoor cat. Ever since we lived in our previous house, which was a rental house, he's had problems with spraying. There evidently were previous tenants who had dogs with peeing problems, so naturally upon smelling the dog urine remnants, my cat thought it was a place to require marking. Now we have purchased a home that did not previously have pets, and the cat is still spraying. We've tried everything, even taken him to the vet to make sure there are no medical problems.
We're not willing to allow him to destroy our home like he did the last place; we also have a baby on the way and need a clean environment. I hate to do it, it will make me very sad, but I must.
Can anyone give me advice on how to train him to be an outdoor cat?
post #2 of 20
I'm not an expert but my first two questions, which I'm sure most people will ask, are: 1. Is he neutered? (If I'm correct, that is where spraying issues can come from too) 2. Is he declawed. To send a cat with no claws outdoors can be dangerous for him.

I'm sure people with lots of kitty care experience will come along and answer with some more indepth advice.
post #3 of 20
He doesn't need to be an outdoor cat. He only needs to be neutered. That's where the spraying capability comes from. Once he's neutered, the spraying will stop, because he won't be able to do it.You won't have to worry about your house anymore, and also you will not have to put him outside. A cat that has been raised inside his entire life will die most likely within the first week. He won't know what to do. He's definitely old enough to be neutered, so there should be no problems. I don't understand why your vet never suggested it. You could have been over that problem years ago. If you didn't know about neutering, you do now. And it's VERY important to get your pets neutered and spayed. (Spaying is for females. It removes their capability to reproduce.) I hope I've helped. If there's any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

post #4 of 20
If he is neutered already make him wear stud pants.
post #5 of 20
I hope you don't mean live outside and never come in "outdoor cat". It sounds to me like you should find another home for this cat. I can't imagine you had him inside for 6 years and unneutered, so I am assuming he is. If he isn't, that would be a help, but with a new house and baby, you might be better off without pets.
post #6 of 20
I agree - sorry if it sounds harsh but I think it would be better to tackle the problem of spraying than to put him outdoors. A cat that sprays does not do it for no reason. If he's not neutered that would explain the spraying. If he is neutered then it sounds like he's feeling stressed and it still needing to mark his territory. Have you tried feliway? It's a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone that cats deposit when they rub their chins against something. It helps them feel more relaxed. It's available as a plug in diffuser and as a spray. If that doesn't work I suggest asking your vet to refer you to a behaviourist who can help you solve this problem.

Are you sure he's spraying and not urninating? There's a sticky thread at the top re inappropriate peeing - not sure if it covers spraying also but it would be worth a read, if you haven't done so already.
post #7 of 20
Originally Posted by gailuvscats
with a new house and baby, you might be better off without pets.
I hope you just mean this pet in particular and not no pets at all. A new house and new baby is no reason to not have pets or give up the ones you already have. I also don't think you can just suddenly make an indoor cat become an outdoor one after 6 years.
post #8 of 20
Better to give him to someone who will continue taking care of him indoors, and not expose him to traffic, poison, sickos, starvation or dogs.
post #9 of 20
He cannot be put outside - especially if he is not neutered. Cats are territorial, and the outside is not his territory. He will likely hunker down in front of your door and be terrified. A cat that's been indoors for six years should not be put outside.

The spraying, as all the others have pointed out, is likely because he is not neutered. If you are going to put him outside anyway, do not do so until he is neutered. He will father litters of kittens, and you will be responsible for homeless cats.

If he is neutered, than he most likely has a medical problem and needs to see a vet. If whatever caused him to pee outside the box has cleared up on its own, then the problem is that you have not properly cleaned the areas where he has urinated. Chlorine or ammonia (or other traditional cleaning products) do NOT work (not to a cat's nose). You must use an enzyme cleaner to completely remove the smell. They are available at pet stores.

There is absolutely no reason to get rid of a cat because you are having a baby. Getting kitty neutered or medically treated, providing him with a few scratching posts and getting some toys with which you can play with him interactively (wand toys) will more than do the trick. Spend about 10 minutes a day playing with him, and he'll do just fine.
post #10 of 20
I agree that having a baby is not a reason to give up a pet, but if the cat remains indoors and continues spraying it would be extremely dangerous for the baby. Imagine is the cat sprayed the crib, bassinet, etc. That would create horribly unsanitary conditions for a newborn.
post #11 of 20
No one is suggesting they keep the cat without having it neutered or without seeing a vet. And if Ruth decides they don't want to deal with their pet, then he really ought to be rehomed.

In fact, Ruth, you can check out these links to help you find either an organization to surrender him to or ways to help find him a new home:

Type in your zipcode: and let your fingers do the walking.

At the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network homepage, you can either just e-mail them for assistance, or you can look into the network to see if there's anyone in your area that can help:

Good luck with your kitty - and please do take care of his needs as well as yours,

post #12 of 20
And if the cost of a vet visit or neutering is the issue, please use the Low Cost Spay/Neuter link in my signature line to help you find a program you can afford.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your replies. The cat was spayed when he was six months old and has his claws. He has been pampered all of his life - got the scratching posts, numerous litter boxes, and like I said, tried everything - all the tricks including feliway - nothing works. My other 2 cats (females) do not have this problem. There are indeed male cats who roam around outside. We try keeping the blinds closed, using the feliway, thoroughly removing the smell. Again, nothing works. If he goes to another home, he'll just do it there too. I have read that an indoor cat can slowly be trained to be an outdoor cat, just looking for more advice on how to do it.
post #14 of 20
The spraying of the outdoor male cats is probably the cause. Go to and look up the nearest spay/neuter resources for stray and feral cats. Spaying and neutering the outdoor cats will go a long way toward solving the problem.
post #15 of 20
My sister had a very similar problem, except her cat was already an indoor/outdoor cat and was tearing the house to bits to be outside when she kept them in at night, and was spraying the house constantly. My parents also had 2 female cats, and tried everything to get them to stop, also with numerous trips to the vet, to no avail. When my parents took their cats to the humane society to rehome them, they said (with a sad smile) that they probably wouldn't get rehomed. But she had to leave them, because they were literally RUINING the house and making them miserable. I think there are just some cats who won't be retrained about this, and your baby comes first right now, of course. I am so sorry you are having this problem!

My sister's solution was rehoming her cat (her father in law is a vet and found someone who wanted a cat but couldn't have one in the house because of a family member's allergy, if I remember right). This is the part that might help . The house he went to had a very tall privacy fence around the backyard (they had a pool) and they set him up a shelter with a bed and a heatlamp for cold days/nights. (He also had everything else he could possibly want, and when they went to visit him, he was laying by the pool, slowly dragging his front foot in the water in the pool, and looking very satisfied with himself:lol3)

Perhaps you could set him up an enclosure on your deck/patio (so he can see you often and you can keep an eye on him) if you have one, with a "cat house" with favorite pillows or blankets and his covered litterbox (or a new one that has some of his old litter in it), food, toys and maybe a weatherproof "cat tree" or anchored shelves to climb on and give him treats when he goes out there. Bring him in at night to a bathroom (pick up everything so he can't pee on it, even the towels on the wall and fold the shower curtain over the rod) or somewhere he can't ruin (my sister used the laundry room). Start out with short periods of time, and make them longer as he gets used to it.

We had an elderly dog who was our "baby" and had lived in the house his whole life, and at the same time we brought our first baby home, he got horribly incontinent, and we had to make the decision to move him outside during the day and to the basement at night . But we just couldn't have a dog peeing in the house with a new baby laying on and getting ready to crawl on the floors soon. We hated it, but he got used to it and so did we. I also think that he was happier with us than he would have been rehomed.

Anyways, this is what I would try to do if it was my cat; I hope it helps and someone else can give you more/better advice about how to do it. I have also seen several posts about catproof fencing- you might do a search-perhaps it could help keep your cat in and the other cats out when he gets used to being outside, and you'd like to give him more room.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was actually thinking about some way to cat-proof the back yard fence so that the stray cats would stay out, and Romulus would stay just back there. I think he would actually be very happy outdoors - he's always been obsessed with going outside.
I know it will take a while if we decide to go that route - I'll have to do it slowly, introducing everything new just a little at a time.
Our baby will grow up to be a cat lover for sure, but we can't have an unsanitary home for the little one upon arrival at home!
Thank you for your helful reply.
post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by ruthtaylor
I was actually thinking about some way to cat-proof the back yard fence so that the stray cats would stay out, and Romulus would stay just back there. I think he would actually be very happy outdoors - he's always been obsessed with going outside.
I know it will take a while if we decide to go that route - I'll have to do it slowly, introducing everything new just a little at a time.
Our baby will grow up to be a cat lover for sure, but we can't have an unsanitary home for the little one upon arrival at home!
Thank you for your helful reply.
You can build a cat enclosure.
Depending on your climate, of course.
I also believe breeders keep their male cats separate in a cat house because these cats spray.
Are you sure your cat is spraying as opposed to just peeing?
Have you had him checked for urinary problems?
post #18 of 20
Ruth, you say you've tried everything but you have mentioned visiting a behavior specialist. Have you tried seeing a behaviorist yet? Your regular vet can recommend one.
post #19 of 20
I agree that there might be things you could still try to address the spraying or peeing directly. But from my experience it isn't the case that most indoor cats will hate being outside, be scared there or die. The way many indoor cats become indoor/outdoor cats is that they're given a taste of the outdoors and they love it... they beg to be outside more and more and gradually that's what happens. So if that's what you decide to do, gradually would be the way. Open the door and let him go out; let him come back in when he wants. He should naturally start staying out longer and longer.

Of course, if you're going to try to keep him out of the house entirely, particularly when the people and other cats are inside, that's going to be a difficult and probably untenable situation in the long run.
post #20 of 20
please dont turn him into an outdoor cat died because of being an outdoor cat. You might regret it. remember you dont know what you have til its gone.
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