Outdoor Cat vs. Indoor Cat

posted: 05/15/12
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Keeping Outdoor Cats Indoors
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Cats raised from kittenhood indoors are less likely to want to explore an outside world that they hardly know exists. However, if you adopt an older cat that was used to running loose outdoors, he may use any opportunity to escape. With time and persistence, outdoor cats can be converted into indoor cats. The winter season, when most cats happily stay indoors, or during a move are great times to convert puss into an indoor cat. Whether your cat has moved with you or is recently adopted, first let him explore his new indoor territory. He will likely go through his daily routine of patrolling for intruders, sniffing for unfamiliar marks, scratching and settling into a favorite spot for a nap.

The golden rule is never -- ever -- let him out. No matter how much he meows and yowls, don't give in. If you do, he will learn that all he has to do to force his will on you is to make enough noise. Instead, try to get him away from the door by distracting him with a food treat followed by a play session. For some time he will probably keep trying to make a mad dash out the door whenever you open it to enter or leave. Be prepared by keeping treats by the door. If he's persistent, drop your keys when you are entering to make a noise. If he does get past you, never mind; keep trying. Never punish him when he comes back, though, as he will then have a bad association with returning home. Because he probably will occasionally defeat your best efforts and get out, make sure he is properly identified at all times.

Make your house appealing and provide your confined cat with fun, outdoor-like activities. Interactive play can simulate hunting; scratching posts will let him mark his domain; a cat tree can be scaled just like the real thing, and from a perch in front of a window, the outer limits of the territory can be monitored. Be patient; a die-hard outdoor cat make take four or five months to get used to the idea that life can be just fine indoors. If all else fails, see your vet for medication to calm him.

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