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How to train my cat to go outside?

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by maisme, Apr 1, 2020.


  1. maisme

    maisme PetForums Newbie

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    Hi!

    So my cat is 7 years old, I got her from a kitten and lived with her at my mums where she had direct access to the outside. We didn’t have a garden but had a large green space at the back of the flats (we lived on the ground floor) connecting to my front room window that my cat would go in and out as she pleases. She is a proper outdoor cat and loves hunting and being outside.

    I recently moved out of my mums and into my own flat. I made sure to settle and get everything decorated before bringing her with me. I wouldn’t have brought my cat if there was no access to the outside. My flat is a small block, 3 floors high and I am on the top floor. The stairs to get to the floors are pretty much outside as the landings are all outside (not an enclosed building if that makes sense). At the bottom of the stairs at the ground floor you are straight outside and to get in you have to go through a gate (in which my cat can go through the gate as other cats on the block do). There is lots of grass etc outside my house and is off-road.

    I moved my cat with me about 2 weeks ago and she is settling fine however I want to allow her to go outside. She is now on my balcony all the time and I think she misses being outside at night so always waits by the door. I go outside with her every night to try to get her to go downstairs but I don’t think she understand that downstairs = outside freedom. If I pick her up and try to take her downstairs she growls and try’s to get down and runs back inside. She has so far gone down one flight of stairs but I think gets confused and thinks the floor below mine, is my floor and house?

    I really want her to be an outdoor cat but I have no idea how to make her see that downstairs is how she can get out and come back etc.

    Any tips would be hugely appreciated!
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @maisme and welcome :)

    I think you have to let your cat make up her own mind if she wants to go down the stairs. Evidently she is being cautious and that is wise and understandable. She is in a new environment, and is above ground level. She has no idea what lies below. She is not sure how safe it is for her to go down the stairs. Do you have a microchip cat flap for her?

    Bear in mind it's not so much her getting down the stairs, but whether she will be able to find her way back up safely. She will be very exposed on the stairs (nowhere to hide) - what happens if she is coming back up the stairs and she meets one of your neighbours with a dog? To escape she would have to go back down the stairs! Not ideal at all. Also what would happen (heaven forbid) if she were injured or ill, how would she manage to get back up 3 flights of stairs to her home?

    The best I can suggest is that you try training her indoors to walk on a harness and leash and then you carry her downstairs and upstairs yourself to keep her safe, and walk her on the lead for say 40 minutes a day on the grassy area . I say "walk" but it won't be anything like walking a dog for example. Your cat would mooch about sniffing at things, while you follow holding tight to the leash.

    The other cats you can see around the grassed area may well be from homes on the ground floor, or even the 1st floor. Which would be safer bets for an outdoor cat to get home safely.
     
    Maurey, lymorelynn and buffie like this.
  3. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    Can I ask why you feel it is so important for your cat to be "outdoors"?
    She is obviously not sure about it or is happy enough as she is.
    Be grateful for that as it means she will not have to live with all the dangers being outdoors brings.
     
    lorilu likes this.
  4. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    If you are worried she won't be happy as an indoor cat could she just stay in her old home where she's lived all her life, with your mother? When I left home at age 20 my cat was about the same age as yours. I left her there with the other family pets and family members, the home she was used to. Once I was settled down in my new apartment I adopted a cat from the shelter, and I knew my childhood cat was always safe and happy in her home. She did miss me, but she would have been miserable being taken away from everything she had known all her life. As a young adult I did move a few times over the years and of course that cat (and future cats) always came with me. But my childhood cat was happier being where she had always been.

    Of course if I have misunderstood the situation, please do set me straight. :)
     
  5. maisme

    maisme PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you @chillminx ! That was really helpful advice. I will definitely allow her to go downstairs in her own time just wanted to show her that she can go downstairs in order to be outside etc.

    I did think about the implications of her having to go upstairs, and if a person / dog was on the staircase, but as she mainly only goes out at night and there is no dogs in my block I thought she would probably be fine but understand where you are coming from because trust me I have thought about every possible scenario and battled with wether or not I should bring her with me. I do not have a cat flap atm, I just leave the door open when she wants to go out and stand with her - I was going to get one installed once she is used to going out / being out on her own at night.

    @buffie , it’s not that I think it is important for her to be an outdoors cat, I want to let her do what she wants - just that she has always been an outdoor cat and loves being outdoors so I didn’t want to take that option away from her. Of course if she showed no interest in going outside I would just keep her in and allow her to be an indoor cat. I have a litter tray for her so it doesn’t really matter wether she is in or out, I just didn’t want to restrict her.

    @lorilu I had thought about this, and was really torn between bringing her here or not. I thought I would see how it goes and if she was super miserable here I would take her back to my mums, but she has actually been fine here so I am still so undecided about what to do. If I take her back to my mums, I will get a rescue cat from somewhere like Battersea Cats & Dogs home. I read up on forums loads before bringing her to mine and there was a lot of comments to say that they would test the waters and if it doesn’t work out they could take them back to their original house so I thought that’s what I would do. Still undecided wether or not to take her back to my mums


    I think at the moment I will continue just letting her sniff around and see if she figures out going downstairs or not. Is there any signs I should look for to see if she is super sad here? She is pretty normal in her behaviour and not showing really any signs of being stressed / depressed. I guess I will just have to figure it out in the coming days.

    Thanks for all your help so far.
     
    #5 maisme, Apr 2, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
    chillminx likes this.
  6. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    I think you know her best and would know if she was unhappy and unable to adjust to the changes.then . But I would never let a cat out at night. How about just cat proofing the balcony and let that be her outside space?
     
    chillminx likes this.
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