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Helping new cat be confident to go outside(6 Posts)
I had two rescue cats for several years and adopted a third in July, a three year old boy. I know he's had access to the outdoors in his previous life but not how much he went out; except he was picked up straying after his family got a dog then rehomed. I kept him indoors for the first six weeks or so to settle, then granted him freedom back in early September. He seems interested in the outside world but only for brief visits, and I'd like him to be more comfortable in going out and about to reduce strife in the house from him being bored. Any suggestions of how to increase his confidence in going outside?
Further context - we have a microchip cat flap. I've seen him use it to go out a couple of times but 99% of the time he doesn't go out on his own (I have a camera so can see what he's up to when I'm not there). If I'm home and open the back door he sometimes sits for a while on the doormat, looking out, then walks away. Other times he darts outside and eats some grass then sniffs around in the small back garden/immediate neighbour gardens for five or ten minutes then comes back inside. He may dart in and out a few times but then walks away and isn't interested in venturing further afield.
My other two boy cats (all three neutered) go out and roam across several streets and stay out for hours at a time, often all day, so this seems a bit unusual for a young healthy male cat. He seems to get antsy especially in the early hours of the morning, because he's been asleep all day! In the evening he's prone to starting fights with the other two when they come in to have dinner or sit with me, and it would be better for all concerned if he burned some energy off outside.
We have lots of other cats in the neighbourhood, I did wonder if he's intimidated but he's actively chased them out of the garden before with puffed up tail. He is quite a bolshy cat with my other two and will go up to them and try to start wrestling matches, and he's friendly with visitors/cat sitters, so I don't think he's especially shy and retiring. I realise six weeks of being allowed out is still early days in the scheme of things so maybe it'll improve but any suggestions?
Oh I forgot to mention that I go outside with him when I can. For the first few visits I went and sat outside to help with the transition, and he would sniff around and come to me for strokes. If I go and stand outside with the door open and call to him, he'll sometimes come out for a few minutes. I've tried playing with wand toys out there but he's not interested he seems to be more on alert than playful. If there's a loud noise like a noisy motorbike going past or a plane he'll sometimes startle and run back inside - other times he startles and runs back but I'm not sure what prompts it.
Sorry to state the obvious but is there any real reason you need him to go out? I mean, if he's happy and taking it at his own pace, then personally I would just let him gain confidence in his own time, when he's ready. Some cats just prefer to be indoors more, my girl cat will choose to be inside far more than my boy cat.
Hi @HeatedDryer - yes I'm conscious of not wanting to force him to go out, I wouldn't "put him out" and shut the door and say off you pop I'll let you back in after a few hours. It just seems a little strange he's not ventured further than the immediate neighbours; maybe it's in comparison with the other two who as newly adopted cats who'd grown up in a shelter, were straight off over fences and out of sight for hours at a time within a few days of being let out. I'm an add on house at the end of the road so my back yard is just a few square feet of paved area, a shed and one tiny flowerbed so it's not like there's much space out there to chill in the immediate vicinity of the house. I'd just have thought the further afield gardens with shrubs and trees and hedges would be more fun to explore. Maybe he'll work his way further in time.
To my mind him going off exploring for half an hour or an hour would burn off some more energy he wouldn't then use at 5am starting scraps with the other two cats!
@HeatedDryer it may be something like that - he's definitely got an overtly confident/bolshy front to him, but that could be covering up for being the new kid on the block and he hasn't even been with us three months yet so in the grand scheme of things he's still settling in. With my other two boys one wouldn't say boo to a goose, and the other is all mouth no trousers - new boy starts all the trouble. He was very excited to first meet them when they were introduced, and he would perch on the stairs or hide behind furniture and stare intently at them. That progressed to stalking and rushing out to jump on them. At this point they're pretty chill together the majority of the times and will happily eat next to each other, he sleeps on the sofa on one side of me with one of the other boys the other side. It's just at his peak energetic times first thing in the morning and in the evening he's prone to rushing at them or blocking their path to the cat flap, getting up in their faces and swatting at them. Often he postures and swats then lies down and rolls over directly in front of them, seemingly trying to induce a play fight/wrestle, but they understandably aren't keen to join in! I try to interrupt and distract, keep him occupied with toys, there's feliway and feliway friends on, and I think it's largely been improving but he's still a bit of a bully at times. Three years old seems to be reported as when cats reach social maturity so maybe his age is a factor as well, his prime time to try to claim dominance.
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