Letting My Cat Out — and In, and Out, and In, and Out


I recently moved to a house with a yard, and my indoor cat of five years has suddenly become an indoor-with-access-to-an-enclosed-yard cat, provided she waits patiently at the door when she wants to go in or out, which she does 60 times a day. Often she goes out only to want to come in, only to go out, only to come in.

Only to go out, only to come in.

She’s having the time of her life. Me? I’m exhausted. I don’t know what the heck she’s doing. I decided to track her for a day and see exactly what she is doing.


OUT (7 a.m.): Makes a circuit of the garden, smelling every fifth flower. Seems routine, procedural.

IN (7:10 a.m.): Pads up to me expectantly, apparently reporting back.

OUT (7:15 a.m.): Checks the fence for potential points of exit and/or entry, finds none. The fence never changes.

IN (7:20 a.m.): Pads to bowl and slowly crunches one (1) kibble, then looks at me.

OUT (7:21 a.m.): Watches a plant for five minutes and then … falls asleep. Wait, no — just resting her eyes.

IN (7:50 a.m.): Stares at my toddler’s bed intently for three minutes. Could be that a shuffling of nap locations is upon us.

OUT (7:55 a.m.): Gambols on brick patio, apropos of nothing.

IN (8:05 a.m.) [panicked]: From what I can make out, a man just walked down the street, whistling.

OUT (9 a.m.) [cautiously]: On patrol, making sure no intruders have come into the yard to KILL her.

IN (9:30 a.m.): I guess she just needed to walk across my keyboarddddzz;sdz

OUT (9:35 a.m.): Back in the flower garden, rustling around — wait, what’s that she’s doing? Is my cat marking? My cat marks? I feel surprised and alarmed but … oddly impressed, to be quite honest.

IN (10 a.m.): Cat spends a few minutes watching me Google “cat marking.”

OUT (10:15 a.m.): Stalks a insect in the dirt. Then just stalks the dirt. Then rests.

IN (11 a.m.): Sleeps on couch for eight hours.

OUT (7 p.m.): Checks outdoor furniture to see if it is … edible? I don’t know. Cats, you know?

IN (7:10 p.m.): Checks status of kibble, then stares at the wall. If a cat could sigh, mine just did. (Related: I go ahead and refresh the kibble.)

OUT (7:30 p.m.): Marking again! Wait, no. Just settling into the mulch. For a cat so intent on staying clean, settling into the mulch seems like a giant step backwards.

IN (7:40 p.m.): Enters house and immediately circles back to door (toddler is crying).

OUT (7:41 p.m.): Stands motionless in the fading light as toddler dismantles house in preparation for bedtime. For the first time, I wonder if these two things are related.

IN (8:12 p.m.): Once our toddler falls quiet I hear meowing at the door — as if on cue. Cat wanders around toddler’s door meowing — as if trying to annoy the toddler. Wife and I stare at each other, imagining the dimensions of this problem and wondering if we are equal to it.

OUT (9:30 p.m.): Whew. Cat back to doing cat things, like checking and rechecking potential entry/exit points of back fence. (Note to cat: There are none, sucker!)

IN (10:30 p.m.): Settles into TV time on the couch. It appears we’re good for the night.

All photography courtesy Michael Leaverton.Β 

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