I was never really a cat person, just had dogs. But myself and my OH lived in flats/apartments for years, she loves them, and I always promised we would get her a cat once we moved to a house.
So we did, and now he's really grown on me. Still not a cat person, but this guys my little buddy. He sleeps on my feets and kept them warm all winter. And he has an cool little personality.
But because we don't have a big garden, just a small yard and there is an industrial estate directly behind us with load of traffic/forklifts etc. We decided it would be best to keep him as an indoor cat.
Plus there are heaps of strays outsite, we had a problem where our cat caught ear mites from one of these and ended up with a hematoma requiring an operation on his ear. It is now deformed and flops over.
He's just over 2 years old now, only left the house to go to the vets and was very very scared. He is microchipped and neutered etc, but any advice I gotten is that it is now too late to let him out as he doesn't have the skills to find his way home.
He seems a perfectly happy indoor cat, playful and energetic etc. But a real scaredy cat anytime we brought him outside. However, he has made 2 breaks for the door recently when it was open.
I'm just afraid that if something spooked him outside and he ran for it, he would be a mile away from home before he knew where he was and not know his way back.
Also, he has no experience of cars and could just freeze like a deer in the headlights.
Does anybody have any experience of this, can a 2 year old indoor cat go outside?
Bearing in mind again, there are a REALLY high number of strays out the back of our house, a few fairly mean, have hissed at ours. I don't think he could hold his own in a fight.
Any advice welcome, thanks, sorry if tl;dr...
Without knowing what area you're in I can't suggest any particular group but you could always go to Feral Cats Irelands facebook page and see if anyone practices Trap Neuter and Return in your area. If the strays are neutered it would calm things down, stop the fighting and stop any more unwanted kittens being born. Is it possible to cat proof your garden with some netting or fencing? So that you could let your cat into the garden without him getting out. The strays could have transmitable diseases like Fiv or feline luekemia that he could pick up from fighting with the other cats so I really wouldn't risk letting him roam.
Thanks for the speedy reply. There is deffo some group active in traping etc. Because we have only been here 2 years and cats come and go quite quickly. We have seen a trap once. There is also a high turnover, we're probably on the 3rd gen already.
Your second suggestion, although a good one would be impractical in our case. It is just a small yard about 5" x 12" and has our clothes lines, and then a gate to a back lane to which we need access.
Thanks for the advice Re:Fiv or feline luekemia, until now we were just worried mainly about ear mites. So that is another reason to keep them away form him.
How about the sense of direction/lack of street smarts issue. Would a 2 year old house cat just get himself lost or run over because of this?
Many thanks for your informative post...
I'm not really sure how an indoor cat would react to the outdoors. I have 3 cats and all were strays. One was about a year old when he arrived in the garden. The second was a feral kitten that just showed up one day and the 3rd arrived in the garden as a stray a few weeks ago. Felix, our 1st cat and Toby our latest edition are both very friendly and I don't know what their histories are, if they were indoor cats etc. Neither were neutered when they arrived though.
Re the viruses until we took Toby to the vet for the first time last week it never occurred to me either. I brought him in as he was ill and needed neutering as well. The vet recommended doing the tests first in case he had either of the diseases, so that we could decide if we wanted to risk exposing our other 2 to catching it.
You could try and get him used to a cat harnass and take him for short walks at quiet times when nobody is around. When Felix had surgery on his ear he'd to wear a cone for weeks and stay indoors. He was going mad so I attached an retractable dog leash(for small dogs) to the collar and took him for short walks early in the morning and late in the evening so he could check things out. It kept him a lot calmer.
Also playing with him for 15 minutes at a time and wearing him out should help. He needs to be active and jumping around until he's out of puff and hasn't the energy to play anymore
Yes, our cat (lumpy) had to wear the ear cone too. He absolutely HATED it, got so depressed and would purr in a really disconcerted sad/anxious way.
We have a harness for him, but he HATE's that too, will just roll around trying to get it off. Maybe if we just leave it on long enough till he gets used to it and then use a long lead as you suggested it could work, thanks...
We try to play for at least an hour per day, broken up into 15min intervals, so it is just curiosity not boredom that is fuelling his breaks for the door...
Would really love to hear from somebody who had an indoor cat for 1 - 2 years and then let them out/had an escape.
Anybody who would know how he would get on with finding his way home and learning to avoid cars etc, would be a great help.
Seconding this. I have a 5 year old indoor cat and for 4 years we lived smack bang in the center of galway city. We got her a harness and started taking her out to parks/grassy areas when it was quiet where she loved to just sniff things and eat grass etc
Ok, we will deffo have to try this one in future.
Thanks again Pumpkin seeds and honerbright!!
If there's a possibility of cat-fencing your back yard, that would be the easiest option. I now have eight cats but we got a cat fence when we moved to our current house, back when we only had two cats. They can all go out in the garden to play but can't get out of the garden. And the big plus is that other cats can't get in either so it's a win-win situation.
When I start letting my cats outside you always think their first reaction will be to bolt and run for ages before they stop and realise they're lost.
In my experience (and I currently have five cats) they will edge out very slowly and have a sniff around while you keep an eye on them, they will be scared of the noise, smells, birds and whatever else they aren't used to.
Wait until they are hungry and then leave the back door open, call them back with some food after a few mins and repeat this process over several days until they get more used to it.
Does help when you have more than one though.
Lumpy is a great name for a cat.
My two cats spend a lot of time out the back of the house, but never the front (terrace).
They think the front door leads to a different world, alien to the back garden, with scary things like cars and dogs and dragons.
Sometimes they'll run out the front door - and panic. Normally they'll go straight under the first parked car they can see and hide there for a while. Trying to fetch them back doesn't work, they're stuck in fear mode. I leave the front door open, chat a bit to them so they can hear my voice and have some smelly food inside the hall for them. It might take an hour or so, but they do calm down and make their way back in.
So if Lumpy does manage an escape, if he's like my cats he won't go far.