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A quick question for cat people

Poor gingies

This is outwith the normal posting schedule, but just a quick call for some help from anyone that has cats or know about cats: How do you manage a household with one indoor and one outdoor cat?

We are having major issues with our Ginger (that’s him there, with eczema on his eye, poor baby), he’s now got lost 4 times in 3 weeks (he has a tag with our phone number so people call us to get him back), and the last two times he’s turned up really far away and across a really busy road. He’s always starving and then proceeds to sleep for 24 hours straight, so we’re pretty certain he really gets lost and hasn’t just adopted another owner. It’s sad because he does obviously want to go out, but we’ve decided that we’ll need to keep him inside. I reckon if it was just him, he’d get used to it quickly enough, but it’s the fact that Bertie the other cat goes in and out all the time might make it harder. It’s also the logistics of letting one cat go in and out as they please while locking the other in.

So any advice gratefully received!

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  • Kim 14 June 2011, 12:26 pm

    Is there any way you could take him out for brief, monitored "field trips" or would he be able to out run you? We do that with our kitties, who get jealous of other cats in the neighborhood, and it seems to help.

  • K2 14 June 2011, 12:55 pm

    There is a cat expert show that my 9 year old and I watch sometimes (My Cat From Hell is the show). One of the key things he almost always suggests is to make it so the cat can get up high. For example, little bookshelves mounted in staggered heights up a wall so the cat can jump from shelf to shelf to get up high. He even had one family put a shelf a little higher than head height right next to a door. Once the cat could get up high and see out the door, he stopped trying to escape outside. The expert talks about letting the cat feel large instead of small. If they are always on the floor the cat feels small, if they can get up high, they feel large.

  • oranges_and_apples 17 June 2011, 3:19 pm

    Thanks, i had heard that before Our other cat is definitely a high up cat,
    he's always climbing on top of things! Ginger has trouble jumping onto the
    windowsill though. he's quite a slow motion cat!

  • The Waves 21 June 2011, 1:39 am

    None of our six kitties go outside freely (only one is trustworthy enough to let out on our fenced in backyard), so I don't know if I'm the right person to give advice… but it does sound like Ginger would be better off as an indoor kitty. Have you tried taking him for walks on a harness? Some kitties don't mind the harness at all, others just freak out and panic, but it might be worth a try. If that doesn't work, perhaps consider keeping both cats indoors. Letting cats outside is always a little risky; they can get hit by cars or get into all sorts of trouble, although I know that there are different opinions on this… personally I've chosen to keep our cats indoors for their own safety, but again, that's just my personal decision. The cats will get used to it eventually, even if they might give you a bit of trouble at first.

    I hope everything works out!

  • K2 21 June 2011, 3:05 pm

    Great news about your kitty.

    On the subject of culture and letting cats outdoors… In my area (Pacific Northwest), the vets and rescue places all recommend keeping cats indoors because we have a huge feline aids and distemper problem in our area. 

    I just wish I could still have a cat. My 9 year old is allergic, so until he moves out, no kitties for me.

  • The Waves 21 June 2011, 5:55 pm

    I'm glad to hear that everything worked out! In the US, at least in our neighbourhood, it is pretty common to let cats out, but in Finland, the animal shelters will not give you a cat unless you sign a contract to NOT let them outdoors. I do sometimes feel bad for some of our kitties, who are really curious about the outdoors… but after having seen a cat who had got hit by a car at the vet's office, I just wouldn't take the risk, no matter how small. I like to think that cats are just like any other pets, and I wouldn't let a dog out without supervision either. Also, at least in the US, the main cause for decline in song bird populations is domestic cats. 

    But yes, I agree this is probably mostly a cultural thing, and as long as the kitty is properly vaccinated and neutered/spayed, it does come down to the owner's personal decision. I am sincerely happy that you and Ginger figured everything out! 🙂 

  • oranges_and_apples 10 October 2011, 7:26 am

    It's all sorted now! Ginger managed to get out but has now found his was
    home 7 or 8 times so we're hoping the getting lost far away thing was just a
    blip. Fingers crossed anyway.

    Interestingly, I would consider it pretty inhumane to keep a cat that grew
    up as an outdoor cat indoors all the time unless there is a very good
    reason. We would have done it for Ginger if he'd got lost again after his
    escape, but would never do it to Bertie who has no such issues. Yeah,
    there's a small risk of being run over, but its far outweighed by the
    benefit of him being able to run around and catch mice as he wants.

    I think it might be a cultural thing, I've heard in the US its v unusual to
    let cats out. Whereas the rescue place we got Bertie from will not give cats
    to people without outside access, even if the cat has always been indoors.
    Which I don't agree with either, but its interesting that it is policy.