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Indoor cat to outdoor cat - can/should it be done?

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by egyptianreggae, Mar 7, 2014.


  1. egyptianreggae

    egyptianreggae PetForums VIP

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    The outdoor-indoor cat thread got me thinking, as this is a subject I may have to deal with sometime soon. There is a chance that I may be moving away within the next few months, to somewhere cat-friendly, with a garden. As far as I know, Tiny and Simba have always been indoor cats, and for the most part, they seem happy with this, although I often think Tiny has too much energy to be kept indoors. Simba, being in the region of 10-11 years old to Tiny's 4-5, is noticeably more sedate and seems increasingly cheesed off with Tiny's boisterous wrestling games. Sometimes, after a particularly energetic match, Simba resembles one of Tiny's toys, soaking wet with Tiny's saliva and looking forlorn.

    Would it be possible or advisable to safely introduce Tiny to the outdoor world, after all this time? Ideally, I'd like a little rockery for Simba to potter about it on summer days, but I don't think Simba would love the opportunities for exercise as much as Tiny. What do you think?
     
  2. ForeverHome

    ForeverHome PetForums VIP

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    I have two indoor cats, one by pedigree contract and the other a moggie by "choice" ie having always had outdoor access at her previous home but being too timid to venture out. I would love nothing more than to give them the opportunity to feel the grass on their paws and the wind in their fur.

    A cat can be perfectly happy indoors all its life and many are, I guess you don't miss what you don't have. But I have a big wake-up call to cat happiness 14 years ago when I took my in/out town cat to the middle of nowhere on a Derbyshire hillside. She was 12 at the time but I saw a whole new cat. Or rather, didn't see her very much at all. I couldn't even keep her in for the first 24 hours, she was so keen to get out into all those new smalls and sounds.

    Unfortunately we had to come home to the city, and she was depressed for a few months. It was a huge lesson to me in the adaptability of cats compared to their real needs. So that's my very blinkered point of view.
     
  3. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    This can only come from my own thoughts on the subject,I personally wouldn't consider allowing any cat "free outside access"that had previously been an indoor cat for as long as yours have.
    I cant see them learning the skills needed to cope with the dangers that they may come acroos.
    Would it be possible to cat proof the garden or build a run ,either free standing or attached over a window/door,that way they could have some outdoor freedom but stay safe.
     
  4. Jannor

    Jannor PetForums VIP

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    I would be tempted to build a cat run initially as a sort of inbetween stage and see how they get on with that first. It might be sufficient and will at least give you time to work out the neighbourhood cats etc.

    My run isn't massive but really is a godsend if I'm having work done in the house or if I need to separate 1 cat for any reason. The cats love it and ask to go in it all the time. I love it as I know they're safe in there - I'd worry too much if they were out properly! It's not just cars, I had one get stuck 40 ft up a tree once.
     
  5. Quinzell

    Quinzell PetForums VIP

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    How about a harness? You could then supervise all outside time or would there be any way that you could build a little run?

    Letting ours have an outside area has been the best thing we ever did but there's no way that I would let them have free access to go where they wanted.
     
  6. CoCoTrio

    CoCoTrio PetForums VIP

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    I would leave a door open and let the cats decide for themselves. :cornut:

    PS after a lengthy period of acclimatisation in the new home of course!!! (phew!)
     
  7. gatsby

    gatsby PetForums Senior

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    I have to agree with cocotrio!!

    I don't think it matters if the cat is 1 or 10, they all have to learn the same things. The older they are might be to your advantage, they may go wild for a few days and be gone hours, but once that's worn off they'll be back because they're so used to doing what they do. Cats are habitual creatures, mine used to kick off around 9:30pm and 5:30am when locked in, now at those times he wanders out the cat flap for a run around.

    Do the leash thing first, see how Tiny goes, if after a couple of tries it feels like you're not just showing him around but holding him back, you know that he'd prefer being able to get out, simba may prefer to stay on leash for all his outings!!
     
  8. spotty cats

    spotty cats PetForums VIP

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    Active cats don't need to free roam, they just need more interactive play when indoors. They can enjoy an enclosure or walking on a harness, but will still require interactive play to get their energy out.
     
  9. Lilylass

    Lilylass PetForums VIP

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    I can only share my experiences with Smudge - I got him around 18 months old from a rescue. He'd always been an indoor cat (which is what I wanted as I lived in the middle of the city at that point).

    He spent the next 8 or so years with me, moving from city to city and being very happy being an indoor cat :)

    Then I moved to the farm ...... it was a lovely spot for cats - loads of open fields / space at the back but a road at the front :eek: (small country road not a hugely busy one) so I was worried about letting him out.


    I decided to let him make the choice - when it was summer, I left the back door open and he would sit / lie for hours in the sunny spot, never going out :rolleyes:

    Eventually he ventured out :) - he never wandered far and really spent most of his time in my garden or on next door's roof :eek: (he could get up by going from my oil tank to their shed roof then to their house roof!) BUT it was lovely to see him out enjoying the sun and playing with other cats

    It makes me really happy to know that his last months were spent with him being able to have a bit of freedom & enjoy the outside.
     
    ForeverHome and CoCoTrio like this.
  10. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

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    Like others, I wouldn't even consider letting a previously totally indoor cat out.
     
  11. CoCoTrio

    CoCoTrio PetForums VIP

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    I wonder if it's better to let a cat out for the first time when it's a kitten or when it's an adult? A kitten might be more reckless, an adult might be more complacent. This isn't a question that will bother those who believe all cats should be confined all the time, but otherwise maybe letting an adult cat explore outside is less risky than letting a kitten out.
     
  12. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    No.

    Either cat proof enclosure or keep them inside. There are threads in this forum almost every day of cats being killed or maimed from the road or other outdoor dangers. That's not my idea of "freedom". It's our responsiibility to give them a safe happy life.
     
  13. CoCoTrio

    CoCoTrio PetForums VIP

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    Wouldn't the world be a duller greyer sadder place without ever seeing any neighbourhood cats out and about, if everyone lived in fear of the dangers of the outdoors?
     
  14. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    No. When I see cats "out and about" I cringe and worry. And when I see them squashed on the side of the road I cry. When I read stories of cats being tortured or poisoned I have waking nightmares.

    I don't "live in fear of the outdoors" for my own cats because they don't go out on their own.

    I don't have to worry about cars, predators, sick people or disappearing cats. My cats don't have to be anointed with flea poison every month, and they don't have to be dosed with worm poison every three months. I don't have to worry about them being shut up in someone's shed and starving to death.

    They have an idyllic happy healthy well exercised life. :)
     
    #14 lorilu, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  15. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

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    I don't believe it would. It would be a safer place for the cats, with many less being dumped. Rescues wouldn't be over capacity and unable to take in more. Why? Because only the ferals would be breeding and numbers owuld be kept in line by the natural cycle of nature. We wouldn't have happy, fat, well fed pets breeding and raising their kittens with a much lower mortality rate to start off with, and no natural control on population explosions which lead to the rescue problem as above.

    That aside though, I've often wondered re the age a cat should be let out. i know everyone on here says a year, and I totally understand why, but by the time they're a year old, most indoor only cats are so social that i reckon they'd go home with anyone, and either so confident that they'll try and make friends with a car, or so timid that they'll never go propperly outdoors. Mind you, let them out younger and you have all the associated risks of kittenhood, any older and you have the problem of teaching an old dog new tricks. It's a dilemma all right, and one I'm quite frankly glad i don't have to deal with. I admire all of you who have the nerve to let your cats out.
     
  16. CoCoTrio

    CoCoTrio PetForums VIP

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    I do think it's sad if our cats are threatened by other humans when they're out hunting and exploring as their nature intends, whether the threat is accidental on the roads or worse, deliberate.

    To live in a community where all cats are kept indoors for fear of the actions of other people would be a sad place to live. So when I see cats out and about I feel glad that things aren't so terrible yet.
     
  17. ForeverHome

    ForeverHome PetForums VIP

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    CCT I'm 100% with you on this topic as you know. I worry about how heavy my cats are breathing after just 5 minutes of play, because no amount of energetic string-chasing can replace hours of padding around a territory, heart rate raised by an exciting new smell or sound or a cat to meet.

    The rise in feline diabetes and heart problems coincide directly with the increased number being kept indoors, and they don't have to be obese to get these problems. It's the same problem children are having by being cosseted, their health is being put at risk in the name of their own safety.

    The isn't a paedophile or a cat poisoner on every street corner. As distressing as it is when it does happen, these incidents are very few compared to the number of children who play outside and cats who experience the great outdoors. Life has risks. You might as well lock your animals in a safe on the wall just in case your house catches fire.

    The roads, yes there are places that are unsuitable for cats to live, there is also a lot that can be done to teach a kitten to keep away from the roads - not that anybody bothers with this. It's not failsafe but it can help a lot.

    FIVE HUMANS DIE AND 63 ARE SERIOUSLY INJURED ON THE ROADS IN THE UK EVERY DAY
    and our roads have one of the world's best safety records. Should people be locked up home for their own safety?
     
  18. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Actually diabetes and (some) heart problems are related to kibble. Cats don't pad around for hours outside. They find a quiet spot and sleep.

    I've known plenty of outdoor cats who were grossly obese. Outdoor cats are not, in general, any more physically fit, or even more active, than indoor cats that are given regular play and exercise time. Cats are sprinters, they do not do sustained exercise. I suspect my indoor cats get a lot more exercise than many cats I know who are allowed out.

    And my cats do not need flea treatments or dewormers, which, even if it WAS a safe world for them, would keep me from letting them out.
     
  19. shortandfurry

    shortandfurry PetForums Senior

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    Sidestepping the indoor/outdoor debate if I can ;)

    I think that IF you decide to allow the cat(s) outdoor access it should be done carefully, gradually, sensibly, and supervised.
    Catproofing the garden might be the ideal solution.
     
    lorilu likes this.
  20. CoCoTrio

    CoCoTrio PetForums VIP

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    There should be no debate really, unless it's about compulsion as in NZ. Here in the free world each of us makes our own choice. There's only ever a need for a debate when one of us makes an unfounded generalisation or insists that anyone else's choice is wrong.

    Long may we be free to choose to care for either free-range cats or indoors cats, that choice depending only on the cat's all-round welfare and not our own attitudes or needs. Someone who leaves a cat outside while they're at work regardless of the weather is just as wrong-headed as someone who confines a cat which needs to roam.
     
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