Letting a cat out independently after moving house - why is it three weeks' wait?

JimmyL

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Hi all

We have just moved with our two cats, not only house but from Serbia to the UK. So quite a change for both of them!

Both have adapted well, particularly the younger two-year-old. We live in a very quiet cul-de-sac that is cat heaven really, with a lot of trees, gardens and hardly any cars.

We have been here 12 days now; I had already leash-trained Bob, and I take him outside, 15 mins at a time, 2/3 times a day. He is laying down his scent and marking his territory. He actually got out by accident one day and I found him relaxing in the garden, and he was happy to come in when called.

But the more I take him out, the more he wants to go out! In fact, he gets very grumpy when he comes back in...and when inside takes out his grumpiness on our other cat. Seems I have created a rod for my own back!

Some cat experts suggest waiting for three weeks until I let him out independently - others six weeks! (How do they come up with these figures!?) Surely, from what I have described above, he might already be ready to venture outside on his own.

Any thoughts?

Thanks as always.

James
 

ArtNJ

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I dunno how they come up with a number, but I can tell you that we do get a fair number of posts on here where cats find their way to their old house (which won't happen in your case lol) or just generally run away/get lost shortly after a move. So very plainly *some* sort of waiting period and acclimation training (which you are doing with the leash) is important.

Even if the 3 weeks is kind of arbitrary, I'd probably do it because wow, what would the guilt do to you if you didn't and there was a problem? Would certainly eat me up thats for sure.
 

FeebysOwner

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:yeah: I also think that the timeline has to do with helping your cat 'forget' his old home and get to the point that he thinks of the new home as 'his' one and only home. It takes a while for this to happen, and it lessens the chances of him roaming to find his 'old' home. In his case, if he does that, he will surely get lost and likely not be able to return to you. I wouldn't want to gamble it.

Quiet cul de sac or not, you may want to consider buying or building a catio/cat enclosure where your cat can spend time outside but in a confined space and eliminate any possibility of him running away, getting attacked by other animals, or hit by one of those 'few cars'.
 

danteshuman

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Cats have a great way of tracking where home is and are extremely territorial. If you have an indoor/outdoor I would keep them in for a week and take them out only in a harness for 3-4 weeks. You really want to comment in their heads where home is! Make sure your kitties are microchipped to.
 

danteshuman

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My jerk #^*%#^#%^ of a stepbrother once drove my mom’s front declawed kitty (with spinal cord damage) 10 miles away and left her. She came back safely a couple days later. He didn’t like that she peed in her sleep! 😡 Yeah not enough curse words for that guy! The kitty passed in her old age, after a long happy life.

We are not sure if it is a magnetic thing in their heads or what but cats have made it miles and miles (in some rare cases over a hundred miles) to get back to their old home. So just to be safe they reccomend keeping cats inside the new home those first weeks.

My cat takes a weekly 40 minute drive up and down the giant hill I live on to go go down to Nana’s house (to see his brother.) Even with the AC. Recycling he knows when we get about 10 miles from Nana’s or our home. If we take different routes, he still knows. He gets all excited, wants to sniff out the window (not allowed) or vents & meows. When we slow down and are a block away I open the window a crack for him. My point is, cats know where their home is (& where their second home is!)
 
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JimmyL

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Thanks for all this excellent advice.

I think as you all suggest, it is important to hold on for a while and, although we might feel we are going backwards, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The backwards feeling comes from seeing cat No 2 more and more agitated at being indoors. What started with walks of curiosity, lasting half an hour on the leash, now have to end after 10 minutes as he tries to jump over fences and hisses and growls at me when I stop him (So I now do 4 x 10-minute sessions a day, rather than the two 20 min sessions).

In our old place, he would come in from the outside and generally quieten down, relax and then go out again later. We had a blind, anxious cat (Cat No 1) already; her scent was in the flat and she ruled the roost, warning him off if he got too near. (Both cats have been sterilised)

But although they joined as equals here, he has quickly become ascendant. And the more he gets frustrated at being indoors, the more he makes life hell for her. He didn't attack her before; now he is doing so. We feel sorry for her, as she is trying to acclimatize herself, but she is too afraid to explore the house.

We do work at keeping them separate, have 'catified' the house, and frequently play with both cats to keep them entertained. But he has SO MUCH energy, and sometimes, even if you try to play with him, he just stares out the window, meowing forlornly. :(

These are the reasons why we want to let him have (some) independence as soon as possible! We now live 2,105 miles away from our old place, but I guess that might not prevent him from trying to find a route home!

Please let me know if you have any further thoughts.

Thanks

James
 

ArtNJ

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I've observed this myself, where cats that have any sort of tension at all, do much worse if an indoor/outdoor is confined inside. For me, even if there was a blizzard and it was just a day or two it was very noticeable. I feel like without that massive outlet for the energy, it has to go somewhere, and pestering the other cat to play is unfortunately where its going to go. But you can only do what you can do. As long as they don't actually full out fight, which isn't terribly likely since one is blind, this will be a blip.
 

fionasmom

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Fourteen days as of today, I think? Can you hold on a little longer? I do see your point that this is becoming difficult to maintain.
 
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JimmyL

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Fourteen days as of today, I think? Can you hold on a little longer? I do see your point that this is becoming difficult to maintain.
I think we can just about manage another week!
 
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JimmyL

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Any interest whatsoever in the catio/cat enclosure idea?
We have a conservatory that we've slightly catified...But I still think he's better off roaming around...gives our other cat some welcome space too!
 
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JimmyL

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Yes, only five days to go now...

He is desperate to get out. There are four accessible window sills in the house; he goes to one, spends two minutes there, then goes to the next...and on to the next. He's not always restless and complaining, and does enjoy his food and lengthy catnaps!

I took him out for an hour this morning on the leash. He loves me putting it on him, as it signals going outside. He is quite content but 45 minutes in - sometimes earlier - he really wants to be leash-free to run up trees, chase birds and go wherever he wants. This morning we had a stand-off where he (deliberately) got somewhere in the undergrowth where I could not reach him. The leash was taut and eventually, I had to pull him back. Much anger and growling ensued - him, not me! I had to carry him back to the house, him growling and hissing all the way, and when he got in, the first thing he did was chase and attack our other cat. So that's where his anger goes!

Anyway, not long now...!

James
 

FeebysOwner

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Is Bob microchipped? If not, you might consider having that done so that all of your contact information is on record with the vet in case he does roam a bit too far and somebody finds him. Take some good pics of him too so if you have to put up 'missing cat' flyers, you'll have some good shots to use. Always good to be prepared - and hopefully you won't need it!
 

corvidae

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I think a catio would be a great idea for Bob! It sounds like he gets a lot of enrichment from being outside, and that you don't have time to be out with him for hours every day (understandable!). At the same time, I really hope you will reconsider letting him free roam: freeroaming is dangerous for cats, devastating for local ecosystems, and makes it more difficult for your neighbours to safely exercise their pets.
Even on a quiet cul de sac, there are a ton of dangers for cats: vehicle traffic, predation, poisonous plants or household chemicals, viruses (the HPAI virus is on the rise right now - it targets birds but can spread to cats), parasites, humans with bad intentions, and more. There are also less immediate dangers - for example, if your cat is out by himself, monitoring his litterbox habits becomes a lot more difficult, which means you may miss the signs of a urinary tract issue for much longer than if he were inside or supervised outside.
Cats have been listed as among the world's worst invasive species, and they have contributed to the extinctions of at least 63 birds, mammals, and reptiles worldwide. Ensuring your cat is supervised and leashed or in a catio goes a long way to protecting the environment where you live.
Additionally, free roaming cats make it hard for people to exercise their pets safely. My three cats are harness trained, and it is incredibly frustrating when we are approached by roaming cats - and very stressful for my kitties as well! This happens even when we are in our own yard, because once cats are let out, they can go wherever they want. I also really feel for dog owners in these situations, especially those with high prey drives. I would be so distraught if I was taking my dog for a leashed walk and she spooked a cat into traffic or god forbid got ahold of a cat.
I wish you and Bob many happy and healthy and enriched years ahead - and I think a big way to ensure that is to not let him roam on his own. Thanks for listening to my two cents on this issue.
 
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JimmyL

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Is Bob microchipped? If not, you might consider having that done so that all of your contact information is on record with the vet in case he does roam a bit too far and somebody finds him. Take some good pics of him too so if you have to put up 'missing cat' flyers, you'll have some good shots to use. Always good to be prepared - and hopefully you won't need it!
Yes - he is microchipped...and we have some excellent photos!
 
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