Do your cats get to go outside? How do you keep them safe from harm? How would you go about transitioning an exclusively INDOOR ONLY cat to life on the outside? What can you do to make certain your kitties are always safe? If you’re concerned about indoor vs outdoor cats, read on to learn options for how to keep outside cats safe!
Indoor vs Outdoor Cats? & How to Keep Inside Cats Happy
Seren used to stand at the door or window, meow, and dig against the glass with her paws as if she couldn’t wait to escape the plush indoor lifestyle. Karma-Kat watches Bravo-Dawg when he takes a break outside and has started stalking the door to dash outside–but then acts terrified once he finds his paws on the patio. Folks who live in the UK think we Americans are cruel for not allowing kitties the joy of grass between their toes–many cat lovers in the UK have back gardens and the whole neighborhood of cats comes and goes.
Here in North Texas, coyotes come and go from my back patio and turn into land sharks patrolling for kitty treats. Although in her younger days Seren went out on a leash to sniff roses, I’d never feel comfortable letting her out without that safety net. Karma once escaped his harness while outside, and only returned when Magical-Dawg brought him back. We don’t have kitty outings these days o9n a regular basis. I’ve made the choice to keep them inside and keep my cats safe. Instead, I offer lots of indoor enrichment like multiple cat trees and condos–and a best friend dawg for playing chase.
How to Keep Outside Cats Safe
I do offer some options for creating safer outdoor environments in my Cat Competability book:
FENCES like cat-specific fence products such as the Cat Fence-In, Purrfect Fence, and others. Read more about pet fence options in this post.
CAT CONDOS and tents, like Purrfect Play Tent. You can get modular units like the KittyWalk net tunnel and create an outdoor cat-safe playpen. Or you can actually build a more substantial Catio yourself or purchase kits online.
CAT STROLLERS come on all sizes and shapes, from those that serve as standard cat carriers with wheels, to actual strollers purr-fect for your cats.
HALTERS & LEASHES and of course cat leash training.
More Cautions to Keep Outside Cats Safe
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not invest in an “electric fence” type of product that purports to protect cats (or dogs) using shock collars. Such things are not the plug-and-forget-it answers you want–it requires training to use correctly and even then can result in the pet “breaking through” the invisible barrier and then being prevented from returning home. You simply create lost cats that way.
Such products also don’t keep strange dogs or cats (or other critters) from invading your pet’s home turf. You gotta hope that your kitty has proper identification (is your cat microchipped?) to help the pet get home.
I do agree, in the best of all possible worlds where cats could be safe, the best thing in the world would be for them to chase butterflies and sleep in the sun-puddle on the back patio. When you can’t provide a safe outdoor environment, maybe you’d want to take Kitty for a safe outing in a cat stroller. The next best thing is to bring the outdoors inside with lots of hidy-holes, climbing ops, kitty grass for munching, and fun toys that float your cat’s boat.
When Inside Cats Want Out
Today’s Ask Amy video is a heart breaker. It’s a composite of some of the consults that I’ve dealt with over the past several years. Every home and person’s circumstance is different and I’m not in the other’s shoes so can’t judge–and only seek to offer some insight and help. I hope you’ll share some of your suggestions (positive ones, please!) for any lurkers out there who have ever found themselves in such a dilemma.
How would you transition an indoor-only cat to the outside? And then, how would you transition an outdoor cat BACK into an inside cat? I know this is a controversial subject–but we all want the best for our cats so let’s see what creative ideas we can develop!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!
Um, well, it’s really dangerous for outdoor cats where I live. The local shelter has heart wrenching stories of frost bitten cats every spring. We gets stretches of winter where the temperature is below -40 for weeks at a time (yes, I live that far north).
Then there’s foxes, coyotes, wolves, and bears. I’m a five minute walk from the deep woods, and bears in town aren’t unusual. Wolves far less so, but we see foxes nearly every day.
So our feline fur friends aren’t allowed outdoors.
That does NOT sound like a good safe kitty habitat, I agree! Do you ever let them out on leash, Wayne?
Vicky takes Princess (the Siamese) out on a leash sometimes. The others aren’t leash trained.
Mind you, we have an enormous bay window, that the cats and dogs share. To them it’s just like TV!
Seren does the same thing with our windows. *s*
Amy I know that subject and video was difficult for you to do. It brought me to tears. Under no circumstances could I ever take one of my three indoor cats and put them outside. It just seems cruel to me. I kinda think the problem with that young ladies cat was something fixable of why her cat was peeing outside the litter box. I feel certain the issue was one of the things you mentioned.
Thank you Patricia. I know that many families try their best and ultimately throw up their hands. At least some of them do reach out for help.
I have a barn cat who was adopted from the shelter as a feral cat. I didn’t know when I adopted her, but I am pretty sure that she must have been an indoor only cat before I got her. She was an owner surrender. I guess the cat gave her to me with their feral barn cat program because she was going to be euthanized and not adoptable. For a few weeks, she stayed only in the barn. Then we had to get her used to the outdoors so we let her out. For at least a month, she hid in a shed. Now she is very social and comes in and out of the barn as she pleases and has different napping places. I think providing safe places to hide is a good idea.
Safe places are ideal! Thanks Ann. So glad this kitty now feels comfortable in her new place.