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Keeping a cat indoors when used to going outside.

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Bruciebruce, Oct 9, 2020.


  1. Bruciebruce

    Bruciebruce PetForums Junior

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    Hi all,

    I'm hoping that some experienced folk out there can help us out.

    Our cat Bruce is currently under investigation for possible epilepsy (see: https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/possible-epilepsy.531967/). He is normally an indoor/outdoor cat and is used to getting out whenever he feels like it. We don't have a cat flap, but since lockdown we are wfh, this has just meant that he stands at the door and lets us know when he wants out (much more often than he would have whilst we were at work). He sleeps inside at night and he never goes too far (just a few gardens either side), he also goes to the loo outdoors.

    Since his little turn the other night, we have been keeping him inside. To say that he is miserable is an understatement. He cries and sulks and looks thoroughly depressed. He has slipped through our legs into the garden a couple of times, but we have brought him straight back in.

    I think the reason that he is so annoyed is that, other than his little fit (?), he is completely fine. He is bored and can't understand why he is being punished. The vet has told us not to play any games that will overstimulate him, in case this triggers a seizure, so he isn't even being entertained. We normally play with him a lot, or he doesn't sleep at night.

    If it turns out that he is epileptic, there is a chance that we'll need to keep him inside forever.

    Does anyone have any experience transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor life? Or do you have any tips for us?
     
  2. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    Sorry to read that your lad is being tested for epilepsy ,its not something I have any experience of ( thankfully ) but you are wise to keep him restricted until you find out for certain.
    It is ,in most cases , possible to restrict outdoor/indoor cats to an indoor life but it would perhaps be better if he could be given some freedom.
    Would it be possible to cat proof your garden so that he can still come and go safely but cant wander off.
    Failing that you could build a run in the garden preferably with access from the house either by attaching it over an existing door or window or adding a tunnel.
    Have a read through this link compiled by members showing their DIY and professional solutions to safe out door space.

    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/cat-runs-cat-proofed-gardens.211361/
     
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  3. Bruciebruce

    Bruciebruce PetForums Junior

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    We’re in a rented house at the moment, so what we can do with the garden is limited. It’s really upsetting to watch him at the minute. He really tugs on the heart strings! I had him out this morning for a 5min sniff of his garden and a quick munch of grass but he really wanted to stay out.

    He’s not a climber or a jumper, so I feel like he wouldn’t be at a lot of risk if he did go out (but I’m just not comfortable letting him go yet).

    From what I’ve heard most epileptic cats know when a seizure is coming and get themselves to a safe place.

    Im looking into getting him a collar marked “I have seizures” in case he makes a dash and we can’t stop him.

    I might let him go for a run about the garage tonight just for a change of scenery.
     
  4. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    A lot of runs are or can be made "free standing" so wouldn't involve any damage to property .
    Even cat proofing is possible without much disruption to existing fencing.
    I have always had indoor cats but have built a run for Meeko with a tunnel leading to it from our back porch all,of which could be taken down if needed and would leave next to no evidence of it ever having been there.
    I have some knowledge of the sadness when a cat that is used to freedom is suddenly restricted as I had a semi feral cat that decided to set up camp in a shed in the garden.
    Once we gained his trust (and that took a long time) we had him sorted out for all the problems that he had collected over the years.
    The worst was having his ear removed because of skin cancer caused by years of exposure to the sun.
    He had to be kept indoors for 4 weeks but we found after that he rarely wanted to go out apart from out the back door round the house and back in the front door.
    I hope your lad is okay and his seizure was a "one of" and not epilepsy .
     
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  5. Bruciebruce

    Bruciebruce PetForums Junior

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    I’ll take a look into these and see whether I can buy one or have one made.

    I hope that his fit was a one off too, we aren’t even really able to determine that he even had one. He was under our bed covers and it was dark. We just woke up to a wiggling, disorientated and unsteady cat. He recovered very quickly though, which is why epilepsy is suspected.

    It breaks my heart to see him so sad and not be able to explain that he has done nothing wrong and that it’s for his own good.
     
  6. MilleD

    MilleD PetForums VIP

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    Have you enriched his indoors so that he isn't bored? Toys and things to climb on etc.

    I changed 4 cats from being fully free roaming to indoor when I moved after the breakdown of a relationship.

    Granted it was a different house, but they could still see out windows etc. I had to make lots more time for them and play with them so they didn't get bored.

    My garden is now cat proofed, but they were indoors for about 4 months I think.
     
  7. Bruciebruce

    Bruciebruce PetForums Junior

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    At the moment the vet has told us not to play with him too much as the excitement might trigger another seizure.

    He’s not a climber, honestly most of his outdoor activities are just going to the loo and sitting in the garden watching the world go by.

    the only toys he’s interested in are ones that he can chase like shoe laces or laser pointers. I’ve taken the laser pointer away now, because I’m worried it could trigger a fit. He gets so excited any time it gets brought out. He had no interest in most cat toys.
     
  8. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @Bruciebruce - if what he mainly likes doing is sitting and looking outside, and you have sash or casement windows you could make or buy a mesh screen for a ground floor window that you fix to the window frame, inside or outside the glass. When I lived in a 4th floor city apartment many years ago with 4 cats, I did this with one of the windows. It enabled my cats to hear the birds and smell the air. The window sill at that window was in almost constant use by one or other of the cats. I even had it open in the winter (when I was at home) unless it was freezing outside.
     
  9. SbanR

    SbanR PetForums VIP

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    @Bruciebruce as a quick way of giving Bruce some outdoor time would he accept a harness do you think?
    The Ancol mesh harness is lightweight, comfortable and easy to slip on.
    However, it is NOT escape proof so can't be left alone in the garden. You would need to be with him all the time.
    Also, once started, you Must continue to walk him outdoors daily as he would come to expect it.
     
  10. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    Can only echo the other comments here. It seems he likes cat TV (ie watching the world go by) so maybe perches on widows and maybe cat ladders to get him up there with help. It's a big issue and I feel for you. Cats that are bored are also much more likely to develop FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis) which in serious cases can result in a cat blocking his urinary system and is an issue you really don't want as a complicating factor. As he is male and now indoor, he's in an at-risk group (if he's over 10 years old the risk does decline though). Please make sure you are not feeding him dry food, keep him on high moisture, high protein wet food as that keeps his urinary system flowing. And maybe give him a calming supplement like Feliway Cystease or Cystaid Plus as a precaution. They are natural products so can't hurt and will just keep him on the safe side.

    Did your vet mention that indoor cats can develop FIC? I hope he did.
     
    #10 Douglas’ Dad, Oct 10, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
  11. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    What a great idea! We should actually have a sticky thread where people can post ideas for stimulating indoor cats.
    We bought a wide variety house plants and our boy would love sniffing them.
     
  12. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Hi just a few things to suggest to help relieve his boredom. YouTube has lots of cat videos with mice and birds that cats which enjoy chase games and watching wildlife enjoy. Beware that your screen might receive a paw smack or too so a sturdy screen protector may be a good idea. My foster cat recommends these two:





    Also you could try teaching him tricks with a clicker. Clicker training cats can get them to use their brains and depending on what you are teaching can involve minimal movement. You will need and clicker or a ball pen with a loud click and something he finds tasty. Karen Pryor has some information on her website and there are lots of YouTube vids. Or you can get some assistance over at dog chat where lots of members use clicker training.

    https://www.clickertraining.com/cat-training
     
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  13. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    :) :)
     
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  14. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @Douglas’ Dad - just as long as he doesn't start nibbling on the house plants, because many types are toxic to cats! :eek:
     
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  15. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    Yes, maybe indoor cat grass is a good compromise.
     
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  16. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    And cat nip and cat thyme are good too. :)
     
  17. Bruciebruce

    Bruciebruce PetForums Junior

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    Thank you all for your suggestions!

    I might look into a harness for him, but he generally gets very unhappy if so much as a leaf lands on his back so not sure if he’d tolerate it.

    we can’t do much in terms of building anything from our windows, but he has plenty of windows to look through.

    he does enjoy the phone/iPad games so might give him a go on that later today.

    last night he was sitting at our back door (glass French doors) and a cheeky little mouse appeared and was teasing him through the window! I’ve never seen a mouse around here before, he was so annoyed not to be able to go out and chase it but it gave him a focus for a good while.
     
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