Taking on new cats which are indoor only - should I do it?

(42 Posts)
TuttiFrutti Wed 27-Aug-14 14:35:11

I have been offered 2 beautiful Burmese cats which need to be rehomed. It's always been my dream to have a Burmese, I went to see them yesterday and they are lovely... But the current owner says they have been brought up as indoor cats and must be kept in, or I can have our garden made cat-proof.

I've always had outdoor cats before, which had a cat flap and could come and go as they pleased.

We can't afford to cat-proof the garden. A friend did this and it cost thousands. So I suppose we either keep them in the whole time, or buy harnesses and leads and try to walk them... Or don't take them.

What would you do?

Hakluyt Wed 27-Aug-14 14:38:57

Or take them and let them out?

cozietoesie Wed 27-Aug-14 14:39:40

I've had lots of indoor cats for various reasons (including the current one) and much depends on their environment I think. We, for example, have someone in the house pretty well all day to play/be companionable and a big old place with plenty of room to actually run and chase, especially the long flights of stairs.

What are your own circumstances like?

shushpenfold Wed 27-Aug-14 14:40:03

I second Hak......are the original owners having problems BECAUSE they are indoor cats?

cozietoesie Wed 27-Aug-14 14:40:21

PS - how old are they?

Siarie Wed 27-Aug-14 14:43:49

I have two indoor cats, they are totally happy with the arrangement and in fact the breeder made us sign a contract stating we wouldn't let them be out door cats.

Ask vets and they will tell you how much safer and less prone to disease indoor cats are. My parents have always had outdoor cats and it works for them but if you are going to let them out you need to be sure to vaccinate, spay and worm/flea them if not done already. Obviously these things need to be done for indoor cats also but the risk is lower.

Floralnomad Wed 27-Aug-14 14:43:54

My mum has an indoor Ragdoll , you may find that they just stay in or don't wander further than your garden because that's how they have been bought up , our boy just doesn't go out at all ,his choice . If they want to wander then they are not really happy as indoor cats - so let them wander.

Hakluyt Wed 27-Aug-14 15:51:00

I've heard about these "indoor only" contracts.

How are they enforceable?

TuttiFrutti Wed 27-Aug-14 15:57:13

We have a 4 bedroom house with a fair amount of space, so that's not really the issue.

I'm just a bit nervous about (a) will the cats be happy being kept indoors? And ( b) will it impact on our lifestyle having to keep doors and windows shut in the summer? And (c) what happens if they get out?

I guess it's just not something I am used to.

The cats are a year old. They've never been outside so no idea how they would react. Interestingly though, when we went to see them yesterday they were near the door when we arrived and they made no attempt to make a dash for freedom. They are being rehomed because the current owner has a new baby and can't cope.

Has anyone walked a cat on a lead with a harness?

TuttiFrutti Wed 27-Aug-14 15:58:32

Also Cozie, I am at home most of the day, so they would have company.

Hakluyt Wed 27-Aug-14 16:01:06

Well, I'm going to come out and say I think it's wrong to keep a cat inside. They are not indoor animals. If you want an indoor animal have a house rabbit.

TuttiFrutti Wed 27-Aug-14 16:04:52

Hmm, I know what you mean Hakluyt. On the other hand, I would feel terrible if I let them out and they got run over by a car because they are not used to traffic. We live on a quiet road, but still...

Lovethesea Wed 27-Aug-14 16:13:53

I would take them and have them as Catflap cats. They can go out if they want or stay in.

Better a short interesting life than a long boring one if you are a hunting inclined feline. They are built to jump, climb, run, pounce, hide, sneak and lounge in the sunshine.

One of my two stays around the garden as she is territorial. The other goes for miles I think given the rabbits we get brought from the fields.

I would also go mad keeping doors and windows shut in good weather. They may choose to stay in, fine, but if you are not on a motorway then offer them a home and an interesting in or out life. No amount of cat trees and climbing frames and toys will equal one real day in the suburban jungle of sensory excitement.

CatKisser Wed 27-Aug-14 16:20:13

I believe that some cats genuinely aren't that fussed about going outside but most of them most of them prefer to.
My current cat Snowers is perfectly happy inside, whereas my kitten Olive is desperate to go out and start murdering things.

Of course cars are a risk. I live near a tiny country track and managed to lose my beautiful Millie a few months ago...but although it was devastating, I was glad she'd had the chance to explore the world and have freedom.

It's a tough one, it really is, but ultimately I think it would be cruel to keep a cat in when they clearly want to go out.

coppertop Wed 27-Aug-14 16:20:48

I'd ask the current owner if she has to keep the doors and windows closed.

I'd love my cat to go outside but he just won't do it. It's taken 5 years just to get him to stand near an open door without running upstairs. confused

If they don't actually want to go out, it might not be a problem.

RaisingSteam Wed 27-Aug-14 16:28:49

Male or female, how old?

We had two 3 year old Burmese boys, who were "indoor cats", we gently introduced them to outdoors and they became enthusiastic garden stalkers/hole diggers/grass chewers. We couldn't keep them in. But were quick to come in the catflap if any trouble - we didn't have a lot of fights. One of them did wander too far and get lost for several weeks but that was after a house move.

As with any cat it depends how safe your environment is, we moved house to a busier road and did eventually lose them both to road accidents sadly. We improved the catproofing of the garden (a tall fence/gate at the side) and our next Burmese were laydeez who didn't wander as much, have lived into a lazy old age.

Burmese are a robust breed who will love exploring a safe garden. If there are a lot of other cats around their territory will be quite small. I am envy envy, if you change your mind I'll take them!

mkmjimmy Wed 27-Aug-14 16:29:43

I know someone who has 2 indoor cats. They have been indoor cats all their lives - quite old now. And are well adjusted and happy cats. I think they don't miss what they don't know. She has to be a bit careful if they have a party or have workmen in - and the cats are then put in a spare room with a bed and a litter tray in case doors get left open. But it seems to work really well for them.

My cats from when they were kittens were desperate to be let out to explore the world and on the rare occasion they have to be kept in now for some reason try all sorts of ways to get out. They are cat flap cats and are happy with that.

RaisingSteam Wed 27-Aug-14 16:32:07

Just saw they are a year old. I would say that sensible measures, ie. a shoulder high fence and some strategically positioned netting, would do a lot to reduce the risk, if your road is quiet.

I don't have specialist knowledge but I wonder why "indoor" is specified?

Pointlessfan Wed 27-Aug-14 16:34:03

Our cat was much older when we got him and had never been outside. For ages he wouldn't go out. Then he started coming in the garden if we were out there too. Now, provided it isn't raining he'll potter about in the garden but never for long and he's never gone any further. It is good, we never worry about him getting in fights, run over etc.

umiaisha Wed 27-Aug-14 17:10:23

When we bought our BSH the breeder was adamant that she was to be kept inside.

However, on the advice of other friends with pedigrees who had been told the same, we got a catflap and she comes and goes as she pleases. I don't think she goes any further than ours and the neighbouring garden and doesn't seem to spend any time out the front. I agree with Lovesea re the quality of their life and it is such a ballache to have to constantly watch the doors and keep windows shut.

SisterMoonshine Wed 27-Aug-14 17:17:00

Isn't it just the fancy pedigrees like Ragdolls etc are more at risk of being stolen? Worth a couple of hundred pounds or whatever.

happygardening Wed 27-Aug-14 17:18:33

We took on many years ago a Bengal he was five years old, and had only ever lived indoors, I got the impression the breeders just wanted rid of him (he absolutely loathed other cats and they had literally hundreds in the house) although they did mutter something about him being an indoor cat. We lived in a very safe area in a tiny hamlet, where he easily could go out and out he went, in fact he ripped the existing locked flap off the door to go our, Bengals are (I later discovered) not good with other cats within in about a month he had a massive territory, extending about 1000 metres in all directions round my house, was a fierce hunter, killing everything from butterflies to pheasants/chucks, initially he stole milk from the dairy farm we backed onto but was eventually given milk with the morning and evening milking, he adopted an elderly when I was at work bringing her loads of pleasure by sitting with her purring but was also the scourge of the local cats. He loved it outside but not all my neighbours were not so enamoured!
If you can keep them safe Id let them out.

TuttiFrutti Wed 27-Aug-14 17:21:22

Thanks for your comments everyone. Raisingsteam, pointlessfan and umiaisha, that's very encouraging that you all started out with cats specified as "indoor only" who went on to be successfully introduced to the outdoors.

They are a brother and sister Raisingsteam. In fact, the female cats I've had have wandered the farthest.

happygardening Wed 27-Aug-14 17:21:23

People often said "don't Bengals get stolen?" and he looked very unusual and then they were actually more rare than now but 1. No one ever stole him partly because of our location I suppose and 2 what value is an uneutered male cat the breeders gave him to us for free.

Fubsy Wed 27-Aug-14 17:23:26

When I was a teenager we got a Siamese, and my mum decided to keep him as an indoor cat as the people drown the roads said someone had tried to abduct theirs.

Cue 13 years of barricading every cupboard in the house as he would open then and take everything out, weights on bin lids as he would take everything out, windows shut or he would launch himself out and disappear across the estate before anyone knew where he had gone, he threw himself out of bedroom windows a few times and attacked my friends.

However he loved travelling by car as long as it wasn't to the vets, and came on holiday in a motor home several times.

If I had him again I would let him out and let the thieves take their chance with him!

I think Burmese are quite hardy cats and would probably cope with gradual introduction to the great outdoors. (Very jealous as would live a Burmese or another Siamese!)

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