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Letting cats outdoors at night?

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by *nutmeg19*, Feb 8, 2019.


  1. *nutmeg19*

    *nutmeg19* PetForums Newbie

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    This is a bit of a long story, but want to get some other cat owner opinions on this situation!

    We have 2 male cats, Bean 2yrs and Bagheera 3yrs. We adopted these cats 3 months ago through a neighbour of a friend - they were being locked out all day and night because they have a dog who terrorised the cats. Apparently the cats have always got on - but not sure how they would know this if they weren't allowed in the house!

    They seemed to settle in ok to begin with, but after a couple of weeks Bean started to become quite aggressive towards Bagheera, initially we thought it was because we were keeping them indoors (while they got used to us and their new home). We then realised Bean hadn't been castrated (Bagheera was already done) which was the most likely cause of the aggression. We sorted that out in December, and his aggression has gone. Both cats are allowed outside during the day - we have a cat flap and they come and go during the day and we lock them in overnight after dinner.

    Since getting Bean snipped, roles have reversed, Bagheera now stalks Bean. Most of the time it seems like they are just playing, but occasionally it does get out of hand and they end up with a couple of yowls and a few bits of fur dotted around (usually at some ungodly hour of the morning!)

    A few weeks back Bean was attacked and ended up with an infection where the wound was, the vet was adamant that Bagheera wasn't the culprit, she thought the marks showed that Bean had been pinned and bitten, which is more likely a turf war with an outside-cat. I'm no expert and we didn't see it happen, so we took the vets word.

    The cats just seem unsettled - don't get me wrong, they both love a fuss and purr away, they eat (plenty!) and rub up our legs/get under our feet - usual cat behaviours! But Bagheera has licked his inside front legs bald - which from past experience is a sign of anxiety and during the night both cats are banging on the locked cat flap to get outside, and then the chasing each other around and fighting just has us concerned. We have tried Feliway friends - which doesn't appear to have made any difference (accept a dint in my bank account!)

    Our question to you all, is given they were practically semi-feral cats before coming to our home, we are thinking about not locking them in overnight. This goes against everything I would normally do, and I know it isn't advisable - but given the situation do you think this might help? We have a big garden to the side and a front garden before they can get on to the road - we've never seen them on the road/path before (although that obviously doesn't mean they don't)

    The last resort is to separate them and try to find a home for one of our boys - which would just break our hearts... we just want them to be happy and settled. Thanks for reading, and any suggestions are very welcome!
     
  2. If I were in this situation, I would probably try not locking them in at night to see how it goes, but spend a lot of time worrying about them. You have a catflap, which gives them freedom to come and go. I wouldn't advise you to do it though as it is just what I would probably try. There is no right or wrong. It is not cruel either way. It's just a decision that you alone have to make. It's a tough decision. They may already have some kind of road sense, and may be able to handle themselves somewhat, but it is no guarantee of their safety. Obviously you are rightly concerned about the road, and there is also a concern that they may not come back.

    Last year, I started to keep my female 10-year-old in as soon as it started to get dark. There are no roads near us and it is a cats' paradise, but a local tom kept hanging around and fighting her. Her desperation to get out at night drove me mad for a long time. It probably will again in summer, but my instinct tells me to keep her in during darkness. I cannot have a catflap here, unfortunately, so she is unable to get to safety, and she is getting on a bit so the balance tipped in favour of keeping her in before darkness came, when they get most territorial.
     
    #2 Deleted member 1482176, Feb 8, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2019
  3. *nutmeg19*

    *nutmeg19* PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your thoughtful reply, really appreciated. It is about weighing it up - if one is getting anxious because he's cooped up, which could be what is causing the squabbles - then i think it's probably worth a try... hopefully (especially at this time of year) having the freedom to go out if they want will help, but fingers crossed they stay inside in the warm and dry. Not really sure what else we can do, and I'm willing to try anything before the last resort of re-homing one - but if they just don't get on - then we will have to do what is best for them. That's a real shame about you Tom cat issue - sounds a perfect place to have cats as well, they're funny things with territory boundaries.
     
  4. SbanR

    SbanR PetForums VIP

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    You could look into cat proofing your side garden and allowing them free access to that at night? There's a sticky at the top of the CC section on members experience cat proofing their gardens
     
  5. Aye, I can understand territorial disputes, but this was on my cat's doorstep - the cheek of it!

    At least in the summer there are many hours of daylight for her to be out in. There are always a couple of days in the year when she won't come in at all until the early hours, or the next morning - she's just enjoying herself too much. I call her every hour or so throughout the night and I know she's around, ignoring me.
     
  6. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @*nutmeg19* - I sympathise with your dilemma. I have always liked to keep my cats shut indoors at night but over the years there have been a few exceptions.

    Years ago I lived in a rural area surrounded by farms with no traffic at night, and one of my neutered male cats was a prolific hunter of mice and rats (the farmers loved him!). If I tried to keep him shut in at night he howled and disturbed my neighbours' sleep. :( . My cat used to hunt all night and come home around dawn to sleep all day.

    2 elderly cats I adopted at different times both hated being shut indoors at night during the warm weather, but didn't mind it in the cold weather. Both of them used to sleep in my garden on summer nights.

    One of my current cats, now 9 yrs old, a rescued stray was un-neutered until around 2 yrs old when I adopted him. . He's always hated being shut indoors at night and when I used to shut him in he became very anxious and stressed, spraying doors, walls, furniture and over-grooming. The areas he over-groomed were the insides of his front legs, the same as your Bagheera does. My boy used to make his legs bleed. The spraying, the over grooming, the anxiety all stopped once I began allowing him to go out whenever he wants (night or day).

    He also benefitted from a month's course of Zylkene, a gentle, calming supplement. One capsule a day, open it and mix the powder with food. It doesn't them drowsy and is not addictive.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zylkene-75...d=1549671304&sr=8-3&keywords=zylkene+for+cats
     
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