Terrified that indoor-only cat will escape outside after move from apt to house

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Member Since
Purred: Sat Oct 5, '13 8:35am PST 
We just moved into a single family house with our beloved 3 year old cat, Freddie. His life so far has been spent in an apartment with no exterior doors, and he has only been outside in a carrier. He did like to sneak into the hallway in our old apartment.

Now we have 2 exterior doors and he has been making tentative rushes to them while people are coming in an out. I am living in constant terror that he will slip outside. I don't know if he will bolt or freeze if he does get out, but I know we may not get a second chance if he gets outside. He has no street smarts or survival skills, and needs medication every day for respiratory issues.

I don't know the best approach to take in training him. I would prefer that he remains indoors exclusively, but I assume he will get out eventually. Should we get a harness and leash and introduce him to our yard just to desensitize him to the outside world so he is less like to panic? Or will that just make the doors more attractive to him and make him obsessed with getting out?

Should we just focus on teaching him to stay away from the outside doors, and what is the best way to go about that?

Any advice from those who have been through this is appreciated.


World's Best- Kitten- Socializer
Purred: Mon Oct 7, '13 11:52am PST 
There are a couple of ways you can go here--one is to train him that the door is bad and inside is good. The second is to introduce him to the great outdoors on YOUR terms.

Option 1--Get a Feliway diffuser or two and put one next to his favorite napping spot and one by the front door. This will help calm him down. Second, when you get ready to go somewhere, give him food or treats or a favorite toy or something to show him that inside is really the best place for him. Third, make the door seem like an unappealing place. Spray bottles are great for this. Keep a spray bottle near the door and spray him if he gets too close. Eventually, he'll stop coming close.

Option 2--Use a harness and a leash (some cats get used to these VERY easily, others...not so much). Once the cat is willing to stand up straight (not bowing or arching his back or trying to get out of the harness), hook him up to the leash and let him out on the front porch. Let him sniff and explore and look around. If he seems like he wants to go for a walk, let him walk for a while. This way, if he is outside, he understands that it's on YOUR terms, but that if he cooperates, your terms aren't so bad....