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 Post subject: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:59 am 
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Neko and Kaylee are indoor cats, although they are super curious. Kaylee is the introvert among the two - when there are visitors, she usually hides until she has figured out whether she recognizes someone and is willing to be petted. Neko, on the other hand, grew up in a hippie-esque commune before I got her (at about 6 months-ish). She loves ALL humans. She runs up to total strangers (like handymen) and lets them pick her up, and then she licks their hands and faces. She also loves to run out into the stairwell and go exploring. Usually she stops as soon as she's out of sight and gets scared and meows for me to come get her. Or she'll run straight back up and in the door. But now I found out... when there's another open door (no matter who or what is behind it), she'll just walk in and ignore me, even when I'm calling her and shaking the pack of treats. She'll wander around and sniff the furniture until I grab her and head back out (apologizing to the neighbours all the way).
Thing is: we're moving in a couple weeks, and then we'll have access to a lovely courtyard (safely away from the street) with a grown-over flower garden, and I thought it would be a perfect cat paradise. Now I'm afraid that when I let the kitties out, they might never come back. Or at least Neko won't. I'm pretty sure that she doesn't really care about who gives her food, as long as it's food she likes. And, as I said, she loves everyone (not just me).

What do you think? What would you do in my place?


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:11 pm 
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I don't know what to say. I am an overprotective kitty mum. We also have a courtyard, and my partner will do supervised outdoor time with Puddy while I'm at work, because I can't bear to be there as I get so worried. However, she does love it so much, and I just plug my ears when he has stories about how she went out a little bit far and he got worried. The one good thing is that we live right next to an elementary school, and Puddy is scared of children, so she always runs back to us. However, now that school is out--she is getting a bit more adventurous.

In your place, I'd give them supervised outdoor time, but I'd still worry!


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:19 pm 
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Our last cat loved to go outside so much, so we went out and got him a harness and long retractable leash. I took him out into our backyard regularly and read a book while he explored to his little heart's content. Maybe you could go the leash route for a while, and see how things go? Or plant a metal stake in the yard to leash them to while you sit outside and do other things?

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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:12 pm 
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Can't do the leash thing, I'm afraid. The "garden" part that is accessible to us is just big enough to hang some clothes or maybe put up a barbecue. The larger part is the old overgrown garden (that hasn't been tended for years), and it's fenced in. The owners of the place say cats are not a problem, so they're basically free to roam. It's just that if they got out of sight, they might want to try out some other doors (and/or windows they can reach).
I'm not planning to let them out straight away, anyways. They will need some time to get accustomed to the new place first, to know that this is their home now - and the place they will find us and get food (and so please please also the place to always come back to).
So I guess after a while we'll try supervised outdoor time... Let's see how far they will venture. Maybe I'm overprotective too. And I'm definitely overthinking things. Hope the BF will be of help. (Oh, I'm sure he will. He loves the cats.)


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:47 pm 
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I would never ever let cats outside unless they were on leash or in a secure enclosure and supervised. At the animal shelter, we have to pick up the bodies of dead cats almost on a weekly basis. They get hit by cars, they get mauled by wild animals or loose dogs, they die after ingesting poison or chemicals, they get stuck in fences or buildings and starve to death, and sometimes they are killed by cruel humans. (Sometimes people will say "But I live in a nice, safe neighbourhood!" but I don't know of any place that is completely devoid of cars, other animals, humans, pesticides, etc.) We also have a lost & found book that is filled with reports of missing cats. 99% of these cats are never found. Yes, cats like playing outside, but so do 2 year old children, and you would never let them out without supervision.


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:56 pm 
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Leash and harness is what we've done with our kitty too. I'm kind of obsessive about my cat's safety.

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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:02 pm 
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I actually looked for a harness/leash today, but the one that my trusted favourite pet supply store employee recommended (because her cats don't mind it at all) was sold out. So sad! I really wanted to give Puddy a little time outside this evening.


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:53 am 
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You know, I just had an idea.
There's no way to get to the street from the courtyard, since the only way out into the street would be through one of the adjoining houses, and they're usually locked on both sides. (These are old European multistory buildings, cellars, stairwells and all.) So I'll try the supervised outdoor time, and I'll try putting collars on both cats that have their names and my phone number or something, so if one of them does end up getting lost, people will have a way to contact me, and I can come get her.


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:58 am 
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if they can't get to the street from the courtyard where else could they go? i know you mentioned you were afraid of them getting lost, but where might they run off to?

personally, even if i lived out in the country far away from roads and other people i still would not let my cats outside. i used to work at the spca and like raspberrycomplaint i saw a lot of awful things happen to cats that were outside. there's a lot out there they can get into, mean people and children that might mess with them (we had one cat surrendered who was chased down by some kids & they poured battery acid on his back. he lived and we helped him recover, but it was terrible), poisonous plants/chemicals (pesticides, etc.), snakes & other animals that might harm them...the list goes on. that's why i'm a big fan of keeping kittehs inside unless they're harnessed & leashed and you know they're not going to wiggle free.


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:26 am 
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raspberrycomplaint wrote:
I would never ever let cats outside unless they were on leash or in a secure enclosure and supervised. At the animal shelter, we have to pick up the bodies of dead cats almost on a weekly basis. They get hit by cars, they get mauled by wild animals or loose dogs, they die after ingesting poison or chemicals, they get stuck in fences or buildings and starve to death, and sometimes they are killed by cruel humans. (Sometimes people will say "But I live in a nice, safe neighbourhood!" but I don't know of any place that is completely devoid of cars, other animals, humans, pesticides, etc.) We also have a lost & found book that is filled with reports of missing cats. 99% of these cats are never found. Yes, cats like playing outside, but so do 2 year old children, and you would never let them out without supervision.


Yeah, this. Fatty used to be an outdoor cat because I found her in an alley anyway, and then when she was two I got another cat who I tried to keep indoors, but he saw her going out and wanted to go out too. I moved into my own apartment and took the cats with me, but my neighbor had a dog they let out loose to pee and he would chase the cats, so I took them back out to my parents farm until I could move into a better, safer place. That was the summer that a coyote moved into the area, and among many other cats, Wonder Mutt disappeared the last weekend he would've been there.

Fatty transitioned to being an indoor cat okay, when we got Genghis and Gozer she started bisqueing to go out, but our back porch was screened in so if she did escape through the back door she couldn't get out out. Now, she doesn't care. Genghis has never wanted to go out and Gozer will come stand in the door while i'm trying to get the dogs in, and he actually got in our back yard in TN a few times because the screen door didn't latch, but i'm reeeeeally glad they don't want to be outside. There are just too many things that can happen, and cats can climb. Fatty used to get up on the roof of my parents garage. Part of my crazy cat lady dream is to be able to build a small side yard just for the cats that has a fence that's about 15 feet high, but that's the only way they're getting out.

BUT there are tons of outdoor cat enclosures available, I can't think of the name but there's one that's a long tube and you attach it to a pet door so the cat can go out in it whenever they damn well please.

http://www.paws.org/outdoor-cat-enclosures.html

Also, collars are nice, microchips are 100 times better. I had friends in high school who wanted to keep all of the animals, so if they found a loose cat (and I think one dog) with a collar on that they wanted, they would take off the collar and take it home, and then their mom would kick the cat out sans collar either immediately or after a few weeks.

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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:29 am 
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Another vote for leash/harness - I would be too afraid to let my cat out otherwise.

eta: a cat tube like mrsbadmouth mentioned might be a good idea - might look too restrictive - but when I take my cat out he spends most of his time lying in one sunny spot anyway!


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 Post subject: Re: Will I ever be able to let my cat(s) outside?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:51 am 
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In the city they can get hit by cars... in the country they can get eaten by wild animals... it seems there's no perfect environment. It makes me kinda sad because I know our kitty would LOVE to wander freely, and I wish that I could let him without fear, but I just can't. He got out the other day and I panicked and cried until my husband found him (we have nearly 4 acres; our road isn't busy but it was the time of day when foxes might be out and we don't mow but a small area, so the grass is tall and he could have been ANYWHERE.)

I'm glad I am not the only one who feels strongly about this. There's a lady we know who insists that cats SHOULD be outside because that's their natural habitat. Guess what? All her cats die and disappear. That just honestly makes me angry, doubly so because they also have dogs that get *very* well taken care of ... most likely because they're highly trained, expensive service dogs. I'm glad they take care of the dogs, but wish they'd be equally kind to their cats.

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