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Transitioning cat from indoor to outdoor

(16 Posts)
AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 04:34:08

We've had our 2yr old rescue cat for coming up to a month (thanks again to everyone who posted with advice when she arrived) and I've decided she should def be an indoor/outdoor cat so now looking for advice on how to transition her so she doesn't run away - or at least so she comes back!

We don't have a cat flap and can't put one in as we rent so this is another concern.

After initially putting food out at certain times she's made it clear she likes constant access to food - we give her dry for now and every couple of days she has some wet food as a treat dinner.

Our garden is large and fully enclosed though of course she could leap over the fence if she tried.

My other concern is since she arrived a big ginger cat we've never seen before keeps appearing in our garden. Could be coincidence but I don't think so...

Anyway, any advice welcomed!!

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 08:50:08

She's neutered, Yes? If so, then the big ginger tom may just be wanting to either buddy up or to check out the 'opposition'. You could always spray him with water to discourage him (it won't hurt him but most cats do hate water) or just see how they get on over a few weeks. I know that when we moved back here, The Lodger made firm friends with the big neutered tom from next door - they used to sit companionably in the sunshine together.

Can you really not ask the landlord for permission to put in a cat flap? I can't help thinking that that would be a good thing. Most landlords would be fine as long as you promised to make good if you leave - unless you're talking about an antique door or something (I've got one of those) where a window installation might be better.

If she's liking on-stream kibble, I'd maybe try to make or get her a foraging toy or two to deliver it. There's plenty of guidance on the net but the last page of this guidance note will give you some starter tips. (Or you can buy a cheap plastic kibble ball online or at a local pet store to see how it suits.)

As to running away? If she likes you, she'll come back and stay. Why not - it's her home. Make sure she's microchipped, let her out hungry, keep her in at night (more dangerous) and then cross your fingers. I've always gone outside with them the first few times to rough-supervise as well. I think that having the association of you and the back door/garden helps their memory when returning - especially if your smell is outside strongly.

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 12:53:41

She's mircochipped and nuetered. We can't ask the landlord annoyingly - we live in the US where they find any excuse to charge you a shit to of extra cash and there aren't any doors that would be suitable (all glass sliding door type affairs) but I'll think about it.

Letting her out hungry is a good tip. Is it worth getting her in the habit of food at a certain time in the evening to encourage her home - I really don't want her out at night if we can help it.

I think she likes us - she likes company and often sleeps on my bed when DH is sick and in the other room blush

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 13:02:38

I always have my boys on an eating schedule even if they're indoor cats - they like the routine and their bodies adjust to the timings much as human bodies do. (That's for those on wet food who don't get foraging toys to keep them occupied.) So no reason not to start it right away.

I think you're very wise to attempt to keep her in at night. As I've said, elsewhere, I think they quite like being in and safe at night if that's their routine and they can go out in the daytime. If my cats have asked, after - say - supper, I just say a quiet No, and they have gone off to occupy themselves on something (or somebody.) They actually stop asking after a day or two and just settle themselves in for the night.

(And if you have one coyote who has actually been seen not that far away from you, you probably have dozens living in the urban cracks! (If they're anything like foxes in the UK.) Nighttime will be theirs.)

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 13:13:12

Well what do you know?

Coyotes in urban America

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 13:31:02

We do have a coyote nearby which is why I want to keep her in at night. Only one has been spotted, it's lives about a mile from us and it's only been seen at night but it's my biggest fear about letting the cat out

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 13:40:22

I remembered you saying that which is why I mentioned them - but it looks from that and other articles (loads on the net) as if you probably have 100s of them around not just one. Keep her in.

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 14:21:11

do you think therefore keep her in fulltime?

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 16:57:37

Oh no, sorry - I meant at night, as you were proposing. Much will depend on the cat itself of course - and I've had both indoor and outside-going cats (my current old boy is indoor because he'd always been that long before I got him and he's now pretty old) but I would have thought that outside during the daytime would suit her fine if she fancies it - as long as she has some shade, say, or the ability to get in out of the heat if it's high summer.

BadgersRetreat Tue 18-Mar-14 17:03:35

we have coyotes too so our cat only goes out when we are about - she's never disappeared

when i get home from work she has her tea and then sits by the door for me to open it to let her out. She pops back in regularly and at some point we shut her in for the night if it's getting late or cold. Weekends she just comes and goes if the door's open.

works really well and does her good to get out for a gallop about. Just don't let the neighbours see her outside your garden or she'll end up in the pound shock

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 18:41:22

That's what I'm hoping for Badger that she will potter about in the garden when we're home, look her in when we're out and at night. I know it will totally depend on her so just wondering if there's anything I can do to encourage her to stay in the garden?

EddieVeddersfoxymop Tue 18-Mar-14 18:44:51

Our two moggies were indoor cats until they were 4 and we moved somewhere safer to let them out.

When we started letting them go out, we made sure they were starving hungry. Don't laugh, but we also popped a lead into their collars for the first few accompanied trips out. Once they got used to the garden, we just let them out hungry.

My two are now 14, and they love getting out to patrol their territory first thing in the morning, then demand back in (no cat flap either) to sleep for the remaining 23.5 hours of the day. What a life.

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 22:15:19

Ok cool! She likes to have access to food overnight (she goes mental at 2am otherwise) so will give her a late night feed and let her go out in the morning when we do, give her a bit of food then keep proper nice food for eve and see how she does

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:23:34

Were you planning to shut her out all day?

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 18-Mar-14 22:46:11

I'd hope not - I basically want her to be able to come praise when we're home. It's getting hot and when we're in (I'm a SAHM with 2 preschoolers so we come and go throughout the day) it's just becoming a pain having to shut inside doors before garden doors are open and she is sooooooo sad and crying when we're outside, she doesn't seem bothered when we're inside but if we're out she sits right by the door and cries!

cozietoesie Tue 18-Mar-14 22:51:00

Oh good. Shutting her out might have been too much for her so what you suggest sounds fine.

You might find, by the way, that once she can actually get out (even if only during the day) it will cease to become a 'thing' with her. I often used to go looking for The Lodger (who had brought himself up on the streets) to find that he had found himself a quiet comfy spot inside the house and was curled up and fast asleep.

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