Cutting the apron strings

(15 Posts)
givemushypeasachance Tue 26-Aug-14 10:11:41

It's the first day I've left the cat flap open for Monty & Rolo while I'm away at work, having a bit of anxious cat-parent angst about it although I know me being there or not doesn't make a great deal of difference to their roaming!

They've had two months to settle without being allowed out, except for their too-wild excursions at the three weeks mark, and started again from scratch on Sunday - the aim being free to come and go during the day but in at night (I see the arguments for and against cats going out and that's the compromise that seems to work best). They pretty much stayed to my garden and the immediate neighbours then, and both came back in for a long snooze in the afternoon. Yesterday the rain didn't put them off and they were both using the cat flap properly, Rolo didn't go far and stayed in most of the afternoon but Monty went off adventuring further afield and didn't see him at all for six hours.

Both were excited to go out again this morning, once more despite the rain - though Rolo seemed a bit less keen once he was out there (I think his short fur gets wetter than Monty's long multi-layered fluff!) When I left Rolo was loitering back in the kitchen while Monty was eyeing up the fence. When I get home whether they're in or out I won't know where they've been all day, but I can't help doing preliminary fretting anyway. I know worst case there's no sign of either of them then I can just put the cat flap on one way and wait for them to hopefully turn up when they deign to return, since they seem to know where they live, but fingernails may be chewed a bit in the meantime! I try to rationalise that cats are "free spirits" and the vast majority of cats that are allowed out (including every cat I grew up with and my parents have now, along with most of my friends cats!) manage to do this perfectly well, but I imagine this is a bit what it's like when people let their kids go to the park by themselves for the first time...

Bonus photo of when the two of them are nice and cosy indoors where I can see them. grin

cozietoesie Tue 26-Aug-14 10:14:38

It's an awful feeling when you see that tail disappear over the wall for the first time but I'm afraid there's no solution if you have an outside-going cat. (Although keeping them in at night is excellent because that's the most dangerous time for them.)

Best of luck - and let us know if they come in tonight. (Or are waiting for their tea when you get back.)

orangemog Tue 26-Aug-14 19:40:14

I have wireless cameras in my house so I can check on the cats when I'm at work... That's not THAT neurotic is it?! :-D

givemushypeasachance Tue 26-Aug-14 22:52:51

I would love to have one orangemog - don't blame you in the slightest!

As I could have predicted, the good/lazy Rolo was inside when I got home at 5pm while there was no sign of Monty. I left the door open for a bit, tried calling and dish-banging while Rolo circled the garden a few times but I think he goes quite far so wouldn't have necessarily heard anything. I had to go out again so switched the cat flap to entry only, just got in at around 10pm and still no Monty. Tried calling again but nothing. Hoping he'll turn up overnight, but otherwise this is looking like another of his 36 hour+ stints.

Rolo is missing him and alternately super-affectionate and purring or chewing on my wrist, as well as wandering around the house making plaintive meowing noises. I keep saying he should tell Monty not to stray off so far then!

cozietoesie Tue 26-Aug-14 23:16:07

Is my memory playing me false or did Monty develop a fondness for the inhabitants under the decking outside? If so, you may have a ranging hunter on your hands.

givemushypeasachance Tue 26-Aug-14 23:22:38

Monty did set up camp under the decking when I first let them out at three weeks post-adoption; they were both sleeping under there during the day then adventuring in the evening, and Monty returned there on day two of his outside world living without ever coming back in for meals in between! I don't know if they were hunting or just snoozing. But I've used spare decking boards and bricks to block the accessible side of the decking up now - I'm 95% sure cats can't get under it. And yesterday when he went off for six hours during the day I saw when he came back, and he trotted back in from a corner of the cul de sac that leads off to hedge-lined alleyways behind gardens and garages and all sorts. A more interesting territory for a roaming cat than the four smallish gardens I'm the end terrace house of, I'm sure!

givemushypeasachance Tue 26-Aug-14 23:38:27

Well Monty evidently heard me bad-mouthing him on the internet, because he's just trotted in through the cat flap. Clearly he's decided that regular inside/outside schedules just don't apply to him!

cozietoesie Tue 26-Aug-14 23:49:32

smile

You'll get a good night's sleep then.

Maybe he's just got a different schedule to yours - for the summer months that is. Hopefully they will align a bit when autumn and winter come along and he needs to rely more on the nosh you provide than that which comes on the hoof.

Is he to get a taste treat for returning?

givemushypeasachance Wed 27-Aug-14 09:19:01

Monty did get some treats when he deigned to come back, and they've both had a couple before being allowed out again this morning - hopefully to be left with a nice strong this-is-the-hand-that-feeds-us short term memory!

Monty hung around in the garden for a few minutes before hopping over the fence, closely watched by Rolo, and was then sitting out by a car in the corner of the cul de sac when I got my bike out to leave for work. He came and wandered over to say hello - or probably to check if more chicken was on offer - before trotting back off to his new territory/playground! He's a big fluffball but can't help but think he looks very small out in the 'wild' - still he seems to know where he lives and how to get back, so have to leave him to it now...

cozietoesie Wed 27-Aug-14 09:31:30

Hard for you but he'll be a happy one after all that time in the pen at the rescue. He may be getting it all out of his system so you could find a difference once he's done that.

Best of luck to you all, anyway.

givemushypeasachance Wed 27-Aug-14 19:38:10

Monty wasn't around when I got home, but Rolo was coming and going and I spotted them both in the garden around 7pm. Decided to cash in that opportunity and called them both in with the aid of their flying frenzy toy, so I've got indoor cats at a more sensible time this evening! Long-term happier for them to stay out a bit later but Monty can have an earlier 'bedtime' after his late excursions yesterday. Huzzah!

cozietoesie Wed 27-Aug-14 20:04:39

I've found with my outside-going boys that they adjust pretty well to being kept in at night as long as they know they'll get out after breakfast. (They'll need trays of course.) Just be a bit hard-hearted until they learn their routine.

Good luck.

cozietoesie Wed 27-Aug-14 20:06:59

PS - winter will help enormously. Not just because it's inclement weather but because it's a bit boring outside at that time of year.

givemushypeasachance Fri 29-Aug-14 20:39:06

Just another update that Monty now has a hat-trick of days where he's been let out in the morning and has come in at a sensible time in the evening - yesterday he popped in around 6:30pm and I left him and Rolo to come and go till a bit later so he wouldn't feel like I was 'pouncing' on him and shutting him in whenever I saw him. Then today I went shopping after work and got back around 7pm - spotted him sat under a parked car in the corner of the cul de sac and he followed me into the garden and indoors when I let myself in, eager for some dinner! Such a difference.

I don't know if the initial novelty has worn off a bit, or if he just realises now that he can go out every day so he doesn't have to stay out as long as he possibly can, but I'm properly chuffed. And whether the freedom is a factor I don't know, but these last two days he's been a lot more chilled with my efforts to stroke him and I've actually got first elusive purrs! It's not every time, and often when he hopes food may be on offer, but he actually seems to genuinely like being fussed instead of just tolerating it. I hope that's a sign that he likes his new home and freedom to roam. smile

What a different two months, perseverance and chicken bribery makes! grin

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 21:01:12

Great. smile

They have so much baggage that pair that it doesn't surprise me that Monty has taken a good while to learn to trust you. (What's more surprising, perhaps, is that Rolo seems to be so much more insouciant about life. There you go.)

As I think I said above, I've not found any problems myself with keeping cats in overnight - as long as (as you said) they're allowed out the next day if they want to. I just aim to make home safe, warm, and with treats and good nosh. It may come with a few house rules but they seem to like the overall deal usually. smile

Well done.

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