My cat keeps wanting to go outside

Eca

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Hi, everyone. I have a 2 year old male tabby cat named Mikan who really, absolutely wants to go outside.

A little of his history: Mikan was born in my house. I rescued his mom, who turns out to be pregnant. He has one sibling and the three of them were basically inseparable from the beginning. They would play, eat and sleep together. The mom was spayed about 4 months after giving birth and the babies were spayed & neutered before they turned 1 year old. They also stay exclusively indoor. In the beginning, I had a pretty hard time trying to transition the mom cat to stay indoors. She would yowl, scratch and buttheading the front door, trying to get it to open. I ignored her behavior and tried to play more with her. I'll put many toys, cat grass, catnip, anything basically to keep her busy. After almost a week of sleep deprivation, she finally surrendered and never tried to go outside anymore.

Now, Mikan behaved exactly like his mom. Suddenly, a few months ago, he's dying to go outside. I suspect because he saw a few free roaming cats (probably my neighbor's) walking and playing outside from the window and he's jealous of them. I did exactly what I did to his mom before; ignoring his behavior, playing with him to tire him out, giving toys and catnip, but he doesn't give up. After a few days of yowling, in one uneventful evening, he saw an opportunity to go outside when my Dad's opening the front door to throw the trash. He dashed out, gone all night and came home in the morning. So my whole family tried to be more diligent in closing the door as soon as possible and locking the door as well because somehow Mikan also learned how to open the door by jumping on the handle.

A few days later, the yowling and scratching, buttheading, and jumping the front door continues. He would yowl especially at night for about 5 minutes, stopping for about 15 minutes before yowling again. I tried to tire him out at night before bedtime by playing for at least 30 minutes before giving him his dinner. He would sleep for a couple of hours before waking up in the middle of the night and starts yowling again. We still persevere by ignoring him, but one morning we found that he's peed and pooped on the bathroom mats. He's never peed or pooped outside his litter box ever since he was born! Since then, if he yowls at night, he'll also peed or pooped or both, on the bathroom mats. So every night, I removed any mats from the floor to prevent him from doing so.

The last straw happened this morning. I wake up to find that he's peed and pooped on my bed. Honestly, at this point my family's been so exhausted from sleep deprivation because of his misbehavior at night. My Mom asks me to just let him out because of my Dad's hypertension and the sleepless night caused his blood pressure to spike up quite dangerously.

I'm so confused right now. Of course I'm worried about Mikan's safety if he went outside but at this point I'm also worried about my family's health. Do you have any suggestions about what should I do or what other method to try to keep him indoor?

Thanks a lot!
 

rubysmama

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Has Mikan had a vet checkup since this all began? It might simply be him just wanting to go outside, but the fact that he's developed litter box avoidance issues, does make me wonder if he should be checked out by a vet.

If all checks out fine, and he's just decided he wants to be an outside cat, is creating a catio for him an option? That way he'd be safe.

As for the areas where he's peed/pooped, ensure you clean with an enzyme cleaner to make sure the scent is totally removed.

How To Get Cat Pee Smell Out Of Clothes And Linens – TheCatSite Articles
 

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Hi. I agree about the health checkup, but it also sounds like you were extremely lucky with the mama cat only taking a week to adapt to indoor life. I've read plenty of posts on this site alone where it has taken a lot longer than that to break the habit. Add to the fact that he did get out, and that is surely going to lengthen the time to get his desire for the outdoor out of his system.

The suddenness of it, if not health related, still would seem to tie to something that might have gone on around the time he started showing interest. So, something to consider. Anything in your household change, or something going on with one of the other cats?

For now, continue to ignore him - if you have a room to confine him in overnight that is further away from everyone' bedrooms, you might try that. Also, think about giving him a ticking clock, or a heartbeat toy - or even playing cat music - to see if that might help him calm down when he is being confined.
 
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Eca

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Has Mikan had a vet checkup since this all began? It might simply be him just wanting to go outside, but the fact that he's developed litter box avoidance issues, does make me wonder if he should be checked out by a vet.

If all checks out fine, and he's just decided he wants to be an outside cat, is creating a catio for him an option? That way he'd be safe.

As for the areas where he's peed/pooped, ensure you clean with an enzyme cleaner to make sure the scent is totally removed.

How To Get Cat Pee Smell Out Of Clothes And Linens – TheCatSite Articles
No, he doesn't. Unfortunately, I believe taking him to vet will do nothing to help. I live in Indonesia where most vet doesn't really care or understand about behavioral issues, won't take the issue seriously, and instead will prescribe whatever medicine they like just so they feel that they've "treated" him. I've been there with the mom cat before where one of the vet I visited told me to just let her roam outside because she's a stray and not of a special breed (like persian or bengal etc) anyway. I remember coming home in tears that day because of that. As if my cat was less valuable as a living being just because of her breed.

I don't really have an option for a catio as well. Most small houses in Indonesia doesn't have a yard (backyard/frontyard) or even a garage, including mine. We have a front door, outside of the door is a cramped space to park a bike/motorcycle. We don't have back door because the back wall is fused together with our neighbor's back wall. We also don't have a second floor. That's just how it is for us.

I've cleaned and washed everything with a mixture of detergent and hydrogen peroxide. I'll try looking for the enzymatic cleaner. Thanks for the advice!
 

Hellenww

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enzymatic cleaner.
I did a quick "indonesia enzymatic cleaner for cat urine" . 2 option from the same website came up


 
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Eca

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Hi. I agree about the health checkup, but it also sounds like you were extremely lucky with the mama cat only taking a week to adapt to indoor life. I've read plenty of posts on this site alone where it has taken a lot longer than that to break the habit. Add to the fact that he did get out, and that is surely going to lengthen the time to get his desire for the outdoor out of his system.

The suddenness of it, if not health related, still would seem to tie to something that might have gone on around the time he started showing interest. So, something to consider. Anything in your household change, or something going on with one of the other cats?

For now, continue to ignore him - if you have a room to confine him in overnight that is further away from everyone' bedrooms, you might try that. Also, think about giving him a ticking clock, or a heartbeat toy - or even playing cat music - to see if that might help him calm down when he is being confined.
The only change that I noticed was the appearance of several cats (probably strays/my neighbor's free roaming cats) in my neighborhood. They'll walk around on the roadside in the afternoon where Mikan could see them from his favorite window. Some of them also went into heat and will yowl at night from somewhere nearby. We have stray cat problems here since forever, but usually the cats avoided the road and instead will walk around from roof to roof. When Mikan saw them, he became restless. He'll meow, chirp, keeping his gaze on them until they're gone.

Unfortunately we don't have any spare room to confine him. There are only two bedrooms, one for my parents, one for my sister and I, and one bathroom.

I have tried playing cat music the whole night but it didn't help. I'll try looking for the ticking heartbeat toy. Thank you for the advice!
 

BoaztheAdventureCat

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Hi, everyone. I have a 2 year old male tabby cat named Mikan who really, absolutely wants to go outside.

A little of his history: Mikan was born in my house. I rescued his mom, who turns out to be pregnant. He has one sibling and the three of them were basically inseparable from the beginning. They would play, eat and sleep together. The mom was spayed about 4 months after giving birth and the babies were spayed & neutered before they turned 1 year old. They also stay exclusively indoor. In the beginning, I had a pretty hard time trying to transition the mom cat to stay indoors. She would yowl, scratch and buttheading the front door, trying to get it to open. I ignored her behavior and tried to play more with her. I'll put many toys, cat grass, catnip, anything basically to keep her busy. After almost a week of sleep deprivation, she finally surrendered and never tried to go outside anymore.

Now, Mikan behaved exactly like his mom. Suddenly, a few months ago, he's dying to go outside. I suspect because he saw a few free roaming cats (probably my neighbor's) walking and playing outside from the window and he's jealous of them. I did exactly what I did to his mom before; ignoring his behavior, playing with him to tire him out, giving toys and catnip, but he doesn't give up. After a few days of yowling, in one uneventful evening, he saw an opportunity to go outside when my Dad's opening the front door to throw the trash. He dashed out, gone all night and came home in the morning. So my whole family tried to be more diligent in closing the door as soon as possible and locking the door as well because somehow Mikan also learned how to open the door by jumping on the handle.

A few days later, the yowling and scratching, buttheading, and jumping the front door continues. He would yowl especially at night for about 5 minutes, stopping for about 15 minutes before yowling again. I tried to tire him out at night before bedtime by playing for at least 30 minutes before giving him his dinner. He would sleep for a couple of hours before waking up in the middle of the night and starts yowling again. We still persevere by ignoring him, but one morning we found that he's peed and pooped on the bathroom mats. He's never peed or pooped outside his litter box ever since he was born! Since then, if he yowls at night, he'll also peed or pooped or both, on the bathroom mats. So every night, I removed any mats from the floor to prevent him from doing so.

The last straw happened this morning. I wake up to find that he's peed and pooped on my bed. Honestly, at this point my family's been so exhausted from sleep deprivation because of his misbehavior at night. My Mom asks me to just let him out because of my Dad's hypertension and the sleepless night caused his blood pressure to spike up quite dangerously.

I'm so confused right now. Of course I'm worried about Mikan's safety if he went outside but at this point I'm also worried about my family's health. Do you have any suggestions about what should I do or what other method to try to keep him indoor?

Thanks a lot!
I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle! Wow, cats can surely be stubborn, LOL. Litter box avoidance issues may signal a sudden health problem or it could be simply behavioral.

If he's being terrorized by seeing outdoor cats out the window, he might be wanting to go after them and mad that he can't protect his territory..

Can you invest in a catio or even just a wire-roofed dog run for him?

Another thing you might want to try is leash training him so you can take him on leashed walks with you outside. This playlist has helped me greatly:
 
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Eca

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I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle! Wow, cats can surely be stubborn, LOL. Litter box avoidance issues may signal a sudden health problem or it could be simply behavioral.

If he's being terrorized by seeing outdoor cats out the window, he might be wanting to go after them and mad that he can't protect his territory..

Can you invest in a catio or even just a wire-roofed dog run for him?

Another thing you might want to try is leash training him so you can take him on leashed walks with you outside. This playlist has helped me greatly:
Hi, thanks for your reply! Actually, I've tried putting a harness and leash on him and he rebelled by just laying down. Also, I'm quite confused about leash training. Some articles that I read online suggest that if we take a cat outside, even with leash, it will feed the cat's curiosity and worsen the symptoms but some suggest otherwise.

At this point I'll try the leash training though. I guess trying is the only way to tell whether it'll work for him or not.
 
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Eca

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BoaztheAdventureCat

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Hi, thanks for your reply! Actually, I've tried putting a harness and leash on him and he rebelled by just laying down. Also, I'm quite confused about leash training. Some articles that I read online suggest that if we take a cat outside, even with leash, it will feed the cat's curiosity and worsen the symptoms but some suggest otherwise.

At this point I'll try the leash training though. I guess trying is the only way to tell whether it'll work for him or not.
Hopefully Traveler's Garden's videos will help! It's amazing how she opened my eyes to see that you can do so much with cats while still keeping them safe. Although I haven't gotten as far as she has in the training, I'm excited to know that once you leash-train your cat using her method, it's possible that you will then be able to take your cat on adventures with you beyond the yard as well as on-leash and off-leash. Another option you can try is bike riding with your cat. She has videos on how to teach your cat to ride calmly in a bike basket, a cat backpack, or a bike trailer.
 
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rubysmama

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I've tried putting a harness and leash on him and he rebelled by just laying down. Also, I'm quite confused about leash training. Some articles that I read online suggest that if we take a cat outside, even with leash, it will feed the cat's curiosity and worsen the symptoms but some suggest otherwise.

At this point I'll try the leash training though. I guess trying is the only way to tell whether it'll work for him or not.
Here's a TCS article on Harness And Leash Training For Cats | TheCatSite that might be helpful.

I've also read that taking cats out on a harness and leash can make them want to go out even more. One suggestion is to only take them out at the same time each day. And to not let the cat walk out (and in) the door themselves, but carry them out. That might not work for Mikan, though, since he's already gone out the door himself.

Here's another TCS article that might have tips on How To Prevent Your Cat From Darting Out The Door | TheCatSite

And also: How To Make Your Home Bigger (at Least For Your Cats) | TheCatSite
 
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Sorry your having so much trouble. Letting your cat be indoor/outdoor with a bunch of other cats around is a recipe for fights, which sometimes do result in real wounds that may need vet care. So thats certainly far less than ideal, although I suppose if thats the main danger and there aren't predators or dangerous roads nearby you could consider indoor/outdoor as a last resort.

I don't have much in the way of suggestions beyond those in the posts above, but I can certainly give you a tip for what to do if your cat does get out. The main thing to understand is that if you chase the cat that first time, you might catch it and be able to bring it in, but you will be training the cat to run from you. So the *next time* the cat gets out, it may run from you right away and will make you look foolish with its speed and moves. So instead of chasing the cat, you just go sit on your outside steps and act like its no big thing. As the cat explores, call out, and when the cat comes pet it. You don't necessarily need to grab it that first time. Want the cat to think its ok to come back to you outside for pets. The second or third time it comes around, pet it, and when you don't need to lunge/scare the cat, calmly pick up and bring inside. If you don't have time for that or its not working, try shaking the treat bag.
 
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The veg checkup is for his urinary system to make sure he doesn’t have bladder crystals or a UTI.

About the cats outside. I would do everything you can to make your yard less apealing to community cats and TNR thd cats outside if you can. Things like covering dirt with gravel can help make your yard less interesting to roaming cats. That or a motion activiated sprinkler. You can also block his view of all windows with things like rice paper or newspaper taped to the glass. That way he can’t see them.

I would try instead to harness train him & give him a set time each day that you will take him out for an hour. My guy wants to just hang out near my porch for an hour or two, & a short walk. I read or play games while he us outside on his 22 foot long leash. While on walks he marks his territory, rolls in the dirt, chases squirrels, climbs trees & sniffs every bush.
 

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Eca

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Sorry your having so much trouble. Letting your cat be indoor/outdoor with a bunch of other cats around is a recipe for fights, which sometimes do result in real wounds that may need vet care. So thats certainly far less than ideal, although I suppose if thats the main danger and there aren't predators or dangerous roads nearby you could consider indoor/outdoor as a last resort.

I don't have much in the way of suggestions beyond those in the posts above, but I can certainly give you a tip for what to do if your cat does get out. The main thing to understand is that if you chase the cat that first time, you might catch it and be able to bring it in, but you will be training the cat to run from you. So the *next time* the cat gets out, it may run from you right away and will make you look foolish with its speed and moves. So instead of chasing the cat, you just go sit on your outside steps and act like its no big thing. As the cat explores, call out, and when the cat comes pet it. You don't necessarily need to grab it that first time. Want the cat to think its ok to come back to you outside for pets. The second or third time it comes around, pet it, and when you don't need to lunge/scare the cat, calmly pick up and bring inside. If you don't have time for that or its not working, try shaking the treat bag.
Hi, thanks for the reply. Fortunately, there aren't any predators for cats here. But there are plenty of strays here and they're probably very territorial, that's my main concern.

The first time he darted out, he's immediately gone from sight. We look for him for almost an hour in total, scouring the neighborhood while calling his name, shaking the food bag, clunking the cans of his favorite wet food, asking the neighbors, anything we can think of really. Our neighbors probably thought we're crazy 😭. He's nowhere to be found. Probably he immediately hides somewhere or he jumped to the roof. The next morning, he just appeared in the front door like nothing happened.

I really hope he won't dart out ever again, but if he did I'll be trying your advice for sure!
 
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Eca

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Hi, I just want to update. I've just taken Mikan to the vet as many of you suggested. The vet said there's nothing wrong with him physically. No signs of UTI as well. But now a new problem arise. Now both his sister and his mom are having non recognition aggression towards him. I'm currently locking him in the bathroom but he was having none of it. He yowls and claws at the door until I'm physically there to accompany him in the bathroom. I've been here with him for the last hour waiting for him to pass out so I can have lunch and catch some much needed sleep. I just want to cry really 😭.

I realize that his behavior will took a lot of time and effort to fix, but looking at how sleep deprived I am right now and how my Dad's illness is acting up, I really don't think I can handle this situation for much longer.
 
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Eca

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The veg checkup is for his urinary system to make sure he doesn’t have bladder crystals or a UTI.

About the cats outside. I would do everything you can to make your yard less apealing to community cats and TNR thd cats outside if you can. Things like covering dirt with gravel can help make your yard less interesting to roaming cats. That or a motion activiated sprinkler. You can also block his view of all windows with things like rice paper or newspaper taped to the glass. That way he can’t see them.

I would try instead to harness train him & give him a set time each day that you will take him out for an hour. My guy wants to just hang out near my porch for an hour or two, & a short walk. I read or play games while he us outside on his 22 foot long leash. While on walks he marks his territory, rolls in the dirt, chases squirrels, climbs trees & sniffs every bush.
Hi, thanks for your reply. About taping the window, I just can't bring myself to do that. With the way our home is located, the only window where my cats can have some kind of visual entertainment is the front window. They love to see people walking by and would hang around the window for hours. If I blocked their view, I'm basically taking the fun away from them 😔.

I've committed to leash train him for the rest of this week at least. However, right now he's so stressed from the trip to the vet combined with the non recognition aggression from his cat family so I won't do anything today that'll add to his stress.
 

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Sounds like a tough situation. I have a door dasher kitty, and was able to get him out of the habit in 2 ways: 1) taking him outside on a harness and leash, after he got used to the harness inside the house - just kept it on him for a couple days and he was used to it. He doesn't actually "walk" when I take him outside. He usually just rolls around in dirt. Funny, and kind of boring if you are the human on the other end of the leash, but cute too. I think this may have killed his curiosity some, but I don't have a ton of feral cats here. 2) I also got a break-away collar with a tag with my phone number, address, says reward offered if found and has the cat's name. He does not like this collar - constantly scratching under the collar. When i first got the collar I left it on him for a month. Then I took it off. Then, anytime he ran out the door, I *immediately* put it back on him for a few days (left collar right by the front door so I could get it on him immediately so that he could develop the association between door dashing and the collar). He no longer tries to run out, and I believe it is because of not wanting to wear that collar. Not sure if it will work for you, but it's a cheap solution, if it works. Unfortunately it is not a fast solution. Best wishes to you, your family and the kitty!
 

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About non recognition, try a dab of pure vanilla extract on the back of each cat’s neck.

Hsrness training takes weeks. First you get them used to you putting it on, taking it off & giving them treats. Second the cat gets used to walking around the house in their harness. When your cst plays, eats, lays, sleeps & walks in the harness for 39-60 minutes without any problems they are ready for the next step. ⭐You increase the time slowly. Step 3 the cat gets used to dragging a short leash around the house. Step 4 the cat goes outside at their own pace. ⭐ I always give treats when taking off the harness.

For door dashing motion activated air canisters before the door might be the solution.

Your community cats in your yard? Still think the motion activated sprinkler is the way to go. You just turn it off before you take your cat out.
 

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The leash training helped with our cat to not scream all night. We kept the same outdoor schedule no matter if he screams or not. He stopped screaming at night quickly.

I think I'd you can find a vet to do a blood test and urinalysis you can see if there is a physical issue. Screaming can be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
 
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