Outdoor/indoor cats

ZukoCat

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I am a new cat owner, and I am just curious, I see lots of people post photos of their cats outdoors, and I know lots of people have indoor/outdoor cats.

I am terrified of Zuko ever getting out of the house and running off! Plus, I have also seen stories of peoples’ cats escaping and they don’t find them again for months, years or maybe ever! (He is microchipped if the worst ever happened. My husband and I have both had nightmares before that he escaped and we never found him lol)

For a cat to be indoor/outdoor do you guys train them? Like take them out on leashes etc. first? (So many of the pics it seems like the cats are staying near you too 🤷🏼‍♀️) Do you just risk it? I just want to be clear, because there’s no tone of voice in text, this is not any kind of judgement just pure curiosity.

Also, does it make a difference when/how you got your cat? Or what their personalities are?
 

Robyn5678

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I have never left my cats out. My friend adopted cats from someone that said they were indoor/outdoor. He let one out and he wouldn’t come back inside for 2 weeks. My friend has a camera so he could see the cat did stay around the house but he couldn’t catch him to bring him back in. He ended up having to use a have a heart trap to bring him back in.
If you do let your kitty out, please make sure you use a flea and tick treatment
 
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ZukoCat

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I have never left my cats out. My friend adopted cats from someone that said they were indoor/outdoor. He let one out and he wouldn’t come back inside for 2 weeks. My friend has a camera so he could see the cat did stay around the house but he couldn’t catch him to bring him back in. He ended up having to use a have a heart trap to bring him back in.
If you do let your kitty out, please make sure you use a flea and tick treatment
We do a monthly preventative for fleas, ticks, etc! But I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to risk it! Our screened patio is the most I can do (and he’s banned from there right now because we have a tear we need to fix before I trust him not to try and escape out of it 😂)
 
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ZukoCat

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I do have a friend that has 2 indoor/outdoor cats, she lets them out in the morning and they come in in the evenings. She has no problem keeping them around and letting them in and out. They mostly just stay in her shady backyard and hunt birds. (and one was a feral kitten she found near a dumpster!) She has also lost a cat in the past to an outdoor accident and has been upfront about the fact that letting cats outdoors can greatly decrease their potential lifespan due to things like that. 🤷🏼‍♀️
I just don’t really understand how some cats can be let outdoors. 🤔🤔
 

Robyn5678

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We do a monthly preventative for fleas, ticks, etc! But I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to risk it! Our screened patio is the most I can do (and he’s banned from there right now because we have a tear we need to fix before I trust him not to try and escape out of it 😂)
Yeah I’d be too nervous to let mine out. They get to look out the window. One of mine would probably learn to fly so she can catch all the birds she likes to chatter too
 

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Keep your cat indoors! Too many dangers outside….fleas,ticks,other animals,getting hit by a car. I have 12 indoor cats, yes, I’m a crazy cat lady but i would never let them outside…some were born in our yard and I took them in. All have shots and are neutered or spayed
 
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ZukoCat

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Keep your cat indoors! Too many dangers outside….fleas,ticks,other animals,getting hit by a car. I have 12 indoor cats, yes, I’m a crazy cat lady but i would never let them outside…some were born in our yard and I took them in. All have shots and are neutered or spayed
Yeah I definitely don’t think I’ll let Zuko out unless there is an unfortunate accident! I have way too much anxiety as it is 😂😂 but I’m just so curious about people who are able to go outside with their cats and have them stay near/come back inside. How they got to that point?
 
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ZukoCat

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Yeah I’d be too nervous to let mine out. They get to look out the window. One of mine would probably learn to fly so she can catch all the birds she likes to chatter too
Yes!! He loves watching birds! He would be up a tree and never seen again!! 😂😂
 

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Our cats were raised as indoor/outdoor. A few years ago, though, there were wildfires around here. The forest critters were getting displaced from the fires and started moving towards town more, and we started seeing bobcats go through our back yard fairly regularly. That was the end of outdoor roaming for our cats.

Yeah I definitely don’t think I’ll let Zuko out unless there is an unfortunate accident! I have way too much anxiety as it is 😂😂 but I’m just so curious about people who are able to go outside with their cats and have them stay near/come back inside. How they got to that point?
We still occasionally let ours outside when we're outside sitting in the sun. They are older now and want to stay close. We'll sit on the patio and they don't roam from there, they're content to hang out with their people. They are both 'treat-trained' as well--if one of them doesn't want to come back in when we do, I shake the treat box and they come running.

I wouldn't do that with any new cat, though. Any future cats will be indoors only.
 

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My group is indoor/outdoor; there are reasons and we do acknowledge the risks. That doesn't mean we don't take precautions and that doesn't mean their haven't been incidents. It is still heartbreaking when things go wrong and you do blame yourself. But like I said, reasons and I really don't want to start a debate with it so to answer OP questions.

Precautions -
  • Microchip access cat door, only my cats can access the house.
  • Trees small enough to climb and dense bushes on property to get away from dogs.
  • Curfew, the cats can't go out until full daylight and come in before dark. Cat door has timer to enforce even if I am not home.
  • Vaccines up to date, annual vet exams and blood work.
  • If possible, GPS collar for a few weeks at least so know regular routes and areas they hang out in case someone doesn't come home on time. Technology is advancing but last I checked the weight and battery life on GPS collars isn't great for long term. There are tags that work with apps but rely on being within range of device to really work.
  • Outdoor cameras that I can check the last place they were seen and direction heading. Really great when someone is being a brat about coming in for dinner.
Training -
  • Trained for name response, starting as kittens frequently say name when petting and feeding.
  • No unsupervised outdoor until 6 months old, vaccinated and altered.
  • Outdoor time when younger but supervised with frequent name calling/treat when responding. Allow to go back after treat sometimes. If they don't recall when called, scoop them up and outdoor time ends.
  • Whistle trained to come to whistle to for further sound carrying when older. Whistle, name, treat when come to call.
  • Routine based dinner time, they get dinner when they come in for night. Remember, cats can't tell time so dinner should be set based on sun position not time of day.
  • Food only inside.
Cats Themselves -
There really isn't a single personality type that is good for outdoors. All cats are still pretty close to their roots unless we are talking the super refined purebred like a Persian for example. I wouldn't let a Persian outdoors because I'd worry about them getting sick from the smoothed face and an uncontrolled environment. I also wouldn't let a savannah out unsupervised or a low Gen Bengal, that's more so for the local wildlife and people mistaking them for wildcats.

I've never had a cat who didn't want outdoor access but I have had ones who stay more inside. I don't force any of my cats outside, they go outside if they want to only. My current group doesn't like inclement weather so they tend to stay indoors on rainy or super hot days. I will frequently get glares on those days because I didn't fix the weather for them. Rainy days are funny because they will go outside, reach the end of the covered patio and run right back inside when they get wet suddenly. I do keep them inside at night or if someone is sick.

You do want to work on forming a strong bond with your cat. Training them to respond to names, whistles or clicks ensures they will come when called. But also, if they see you as safety they will come if sick, hurt or injured. I've had the more distant cats without the strong bond too, in which case keeping food inside and respecting their boundaries keeps them around. Remember, cats like routine, territory and safety. You provide them with a safe spot, food and shelter and they usually won't stray too far.

Closing thoughts-

If the thought of your cat getting hurt is too much to allow outside access then don't. Allowing outdoor access isn't the right choice for everyone and shouldn't be forced. I also don't think people should shame or judge those of us who do allow outdoor access. I would encourage all owners to train their cats to respond to name, whistle or clickers though so that if your indoor only cat does get outside they know what sound means safety, food and (ultimately) home. If you can leash train and/or spend some time supervised outdoors within just a few feet of your home, that is even better so that your cat doesn't end up frozen in fear or without recognizable surroundings. Remember to keep microchip information up to date and register your microchip so if your cat is picked up they can be identified.
 
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ZukoCat

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Our cats were raised as indoor/outdoor. A few years ago, though, there were wildfires around here. The forest critters were getting displaced from the fires and started moving towards town more, and we started seeing bobcats go through our back yard fairly regularly. That was the end of outdoor roaming for our cats.



We still occasionally let ours outside when we're outside sitting in the sun. They are older now and want to stay close. We'll sit on the patio and they don't roam from there, they're content to hang out with their people. They are both 'treat-trained' as well--if one of them doesn't want to come back in when we do, I shake the treat box and they come running.

I wouldn't do that with any new cat, though. Any future cats will be indoors only.
Where I live there is a risk of coyotes. We live in the burbs so it’s worse, but they’re even in the city. My parent’s area has mountain lions too.

We’re you worried the first time you tried? Or did you already have enough faith they wouldn’t wander? My boy is not very food/treat motivated but he loves toys! If we have to lure him out from somewhere we use a wand toy and he can’t resist 😂
 
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ZukoCat

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My group is indoor/outdoor; there are reasons and we do acknowledge the risks. That doesn't mean we don't take precautions and that doesn't mean their haven't been incidents. It is still heartbreaking when things go wrong and you do blame yourself. But like I said, reasons and I really don't want to start a debate with it so to answer OP questions.

Precautions -
  • Microchip access cat door, only my cats can access the house.
  • Trees small enough to climb and dense bushes on property to get away from dogs.
  • Curfew, the cats can't go out until full daylight and come in before dark. Cat door has timer to enforce even if I am not home.
  • Vaccines up to date, annual vet exams and blood work.
  • If possible, GPS collar for a few weeks at least so know regular routes and areas they hang out in case someone doesn't come home on time. Technology is advancing but last I checked the weight and battery life on GPS collars isn't great for long term. There are tags that work with apps but rely on being within range of device to really work.
  • Outdoor cameras that I can check the last place they were seen and direction heading. Really great when someone is being a brat about coming in for dinner.
Training -
  • Trained for name response, starting as kittens frequently say name when petting and feeding.
  • No unsupervised outdoor until 6 months old, vaccinated and altered.
  • Outdoor time when younger but supervised with frequent name calling/treat when responding. Allow to go back after treat sometimes. If they don't recall when called, scoop them up and outdoor time ends.
  • Whistle trained to come to whistle to for further sound carrying when older. Whistle, name, treat when come to call.
  • Routine based dinner time, they get dinner when they come in for night. Remember, cats can't tell time so dinner should be set based on sun position not time of day.
  • Food only inside.
Cats Themselves -
There really isn't a single personality type that is good for outdoors. All cats are still pretty close to their roots unless we are talking the super refined purebred like a Persian for example. I wouldn't let a Persian outdoors because I'd worry about them getting sick from the smoothed face and an uncontrolled environment. I also wouldn't let a savannah out unsupervised or a low Gen Bengal, that's more so for the local wildlife and people mistaking them for wildcats.

I've never had a cat who didn't want outdoor access but I have had ones who stay more inside. I don't force any of my cats outside, they go outside if they want to only. My current group doesn't like inclement weather so they tend to stay indoors on rainy or super hot days. I will frequently get glares on those days because I didn't fix the weather for them. Rainy days are funny because they will go outside, reach the end of the covered patio and run right back inside when they get wet suddenly. I do keep them inside at night or if someone is sick.

You do want to work on forming a strong bond with your cat. Training them to respond to names, whistles or clicks ensures they will come when called. But also, if they see you as safety they will come if sick, hurt or injured. I've had the more distant cats without the strong bond too, in which case keeping food inside and respecting their boundaries keeps them around. Remember, cats like routine, territory and safety. You provide them with a safe spot, food and shelter and they usually won't stray too far.

Closing thoughts-

If the thought of your cat getting hurt is too much to allow outside access then don't. Allowing outdoor access isn't the right choice for everyone and shouldn't be forced. I also don't think people should shame or judge those of us who do allow outdoor access. I would encourage all owners to train their cats to respond to name, whistle or clickers though so that if your indoor only cat does get outside they know what sound means safety, food and (ultimately) home. If you can leash train and/or spend some time supervised outdoors within just a few feet of your home, that is even better so that your cat doesn't end up frozen in fear or without recognizable surroundings. Remember to keep microchip information up to date and register your microchip so if your cat is picked up they can be identified.
I didn’t know there were gps collars! That’s pretty cool. Do cats tend to go to the same places daily?

Zuko knows his name, but he is about 50/50 if he will come all the way to me; He always turns to look at me when I call him specifically though.

When we have patio time, I usually leave the door open and he follows me in and out, but at a leisurely pace 😂😂. He doesn’t usually want to stay outside when I come in, even if he takes a minute to follow me, (not that I would let him in case he got through the screen), though he does cry at the door when I let our dog out alone, wanting to go with her.

So when they’re young, you tend to just scoop them up in they don’t come when called? How do you do that?? My guy is quick! Especially if we make a move towards him! I don’t think I could grab him if I called and he didn’t come. He is 6 months old currently and we joke all the time about how a rocket just blew through the room. He’s almost a blur once he gets moving.

I think, if he did get out, he wouldn’t go far or stay gone for long. He loves to be with us and cuddle. He cries if we shut him out of the bathroom while we pee, and he’s usually stuck to me like glue. He’s got to be in the middle of whatever I’m doing. On the other hand though, cats do have instincts. My husband always jokes that no cat will ever be fully domesticated, they’ll always be part feral inside. And he was a found cat so he worries if he goes back outside he might just stay there. (Although we’ve had him since he was 4 weeks old who knows what he even remember about his “feral kitten” life) I don’t want him to get out, it’s just not for me, but I don’t think he will actively be trying to escape all the time. My husband thinks if we don’t keep a constant eye on him he may just sprint out the door.

Thank you for the information by the way! I am just so curious, because it is so different training a cat vs a dog and letting them outside etc. Although we’ve had dogs that would bolt the first chance they saw and others that won’t leave a 1ft radius of you no matter what so 🤷🏼‍♀️
 

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Yeah I definitely don’t think I’ll let Zuko out unless there is an unfortunate accident! I have way too much anxiety as it is 😂😂 but I’m just so curious about people who are able to go outside with their cats and have them stay near/come back inside. How they got to that point?
Can’t answer that question but just remember when a cat is outside there’s a good chance they can get fleas or ticks. Believe me if you get fleas in the house it’s not fun!
 

Kieka

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Where I live there is a risk of coyotes. We live in the burbs so it’s worse, but they’re even in the city. My parent’s area has mountain lions too.

We’re you worried the first time you tried? Or did you already have enough faith they wouldn’t wander? My boy is not very food/treat motivated but he loves toys! If we have to lure him out from somewhere we use a wand toy and he can’t resist 😂
I didn’t know there were gps collars! That’s pretty cool. Do cats tend to go to the same places daily?

Zuko knows his name, but he is about 50/50 if he will come all the way to me; He always turns to look at me when I call him specifically though.

When we have patio time, I usually leave the door open and he follows me in and out, but at a leisurely pace 😂😂. He doesn’t usually want to stay outside when I come in, even if he takes a minute to follow me, (not that I would let him in case he got through the screen), though he does cry at the door when I let our dog out alone, wanting to go with her.

So when they’re young, you tend to just scoop them up in they don’t come when called? How do you do that?? My guy is quick! Especially if we make a move towards him! I don’t think I could grab him if I called and he didn’t come. He is 6 months old currently and we joke all the time about how a rocket just blew through the room. He’s almost a blur once he gets moving.

I think, if he did get out, he wouldn’t go far or stay gone for long. He loves to be with us and cuddle. He cries if we shut him out of the bathroom while we pee, and he’s usually stuck to me like glue. He’s got to be in the middle of whatever I’m doing. On the other hand though, cats do have instincts. My husband always jokes that no cat will ever be fully domesticated, they’ll always be part feral inside. And he was a found cat so he worries if he goes back outside he might just stay there. (Although we’ve had him since he was 4 weeks old who knows what he even remember about his “feral kitten” life) I don’t want him to get out, it’s just not for me, but I don’t think he will actively be trying to escape all the time. My husband thinks if we don’t keep a constant eye on him he may just sprint out the door.

Thank you for the information by the way! I am just so curious, because it is so different training a cat vs a dog and letting them outside etc. Although we’ve had dogs that would bolt the first chance they saw and others that won’t leave a 1ft radius of you no matter what so 🤷🏼‍♀️
  • Coyotes - we have those too and my guys have had a few run ins with them. Their curfew is 9am to 7pm right now which avoids most coyotes and run-ins typically have been outside those hours. That I know of (from cameras) there have been three instances in 4 years. Two my girl hid in a bush the coyote couldn't get to her in, you can tell from video that she growled and swatted the coyotes nose and it took off. One my boy got cornered, when he made a run for the door the coyote hit him from behind, luckily my girl came and scared off the coyote. The girl is only 7 pounds, but she's 7 pound of pure crazy. I think she startled the coyote enough it decided it wasnt worth it. My boy was pretty beat up, hospitalized for a day and got two teeth broken. All three times are when I hadn't adjusted the cat door for time changes, *sigh*.
  • Worry the 1st Time - I grew up with indoor/outdoor cats so it wasn't even a concern. My Mom had working cats growing up so letting the cat inside was a novelty for her at first. My childhood cat was a stray who just decided to start coming inside, so he choose my family entirely. I've only had two cats who just never came home. One we think just wasn't bonded to us and found a place he liked better, we let him outside too quickly after adopting him. The other either was killed or catnaped by a well meaning person. I like to think catnapped because he was bottle fed and 7 months old; so he was bonded and had a littermate he left behind. It does hurt as much as losing a cat to illness. It's why I tell people not just to adopt every cat who crosses their path and to try to find owners. Fear is a learned behavior and those losses taught me fear of letting them out. I was so paranoid with my current cats when they started going outside. But it comes down to nothing in life is promised or certain, you do everything you can to make things in your favor but ultimately it's out of your control. My family chooses indoor/outdoor knowing the risks and I can see how much my cats enjoy it so I take the risk and live with the fear.
  • Coming and catching - My crew isn't perfect about coming when called either... sort of. They will always come, just might take them 5, 10 or 15 minutes depending on where they are and what they were doing. Maybe once a year I have to go find my girl when she is hunting something and completely ignoring me. Sometimes they come, make eye contact and go again. So I call again until they come inside. Withholding treats and dinner unless they come inside will get them in almost everytime as long as I am patient. My boy is the hardest and sometimes he insists on being carried inside (he will lead me around for a little before he flops and I can grab him). Sometimes sitting down and holding a hand out gets them close enough to grab. Sometimes I have to use a stick as a toy to draw them in. In my experience though the best thing is play along if they run, ultimately I am a giant cat to them. Cats play chase and trade off whose turn it is to chase. So if I follow when they run, eventually they will let me catch them since that's how the game is played.
  • GPS collar and routine -Cats are very much creatures of habit. All three of mine tended to follow the same paths most days. Not like clockwork or anything and they did wander off at times, but mostly the same general area and direction. Two stayed pretty close to home, one a little further out. But gives me search spots when I need them. I haven't had to reference them for a while because they are all getting older (9, 8 and 7 years old) so routine is more set and they don't wander as much as when they were younger. When they were younger, the wanderer liked to dodge curfew so I'd have to go get him but the last two years he's gotten much better. He still will respond to the call and turn around to go back out if given the choice but he usually will circle back around every 15 minutes or so. He knows he supposed to come in and he gets treats if he does so eventually he will come in.
  • Staying nearby - when I am home the cats usually are my shadows. Even going outside, they tend to stay near me and follow me in and out of the house. They tend to wander off from time to time but always circle back to me. When I get home, they usually show up shortly after.
 

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My cats only go out on a flexi and are not allowed to leave the property. Besides the obvious dangers of cars (our neighbours is like grand central station with cars coming and going) there's also coyotes here, I hear them howling at night.

I also don't want my cats damaging a neighbours property or killing the birds which we have several feeders out for. I also want to be able to stoop and scoop if they go to the bathroom.
 

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Mine go out to the backyard with me. But I keep my eye on them all the time. Scout is very good and doesn't go far. She also listens to me when I tell her to come. Maxine is the most trouble. She absolutely will run off and has multiple times. I put a shirt on her bc it keeps her from running. But if she does get out with no shirt, she will run from me and I have to stalk her to get her back. Just the other day, she escaped and had me running after her all over the backyard like it was a fun game. She drives me nuts lol. But I basically do not stop looking or calling until I get her back. Flint is very good at coming when called. I've been training him by going on walks around the whole house and yard. He stays behind me and follows wherever I go. They go inside when I go inside. I never let them roam outside on their own.
 

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In the UK most cat's are indoor/outdoor cat's. When I was younger I had them too. There are benefits to having indoor/outdoors cat's mine always came back and didn't go far. But there are risks you have to recognise too. After having 2 boy's not just disappear like others had, but get hit by car's yep I found them both within a year of each other. I didn't have cat's for years over 20 I just couldn't. Then my daughter got her indoor only cat, I thought she was making the wrong choice not letting him out at first but after reading up on the benefits. I now have indoor only cat's, for me the benefits of not having to worry about them while they are out is much better. When I had indoor/outdoor cat's they first came into the back garden with me they didn't need training because they already came when the food was put out and answered to their names. When I wanted them in I would bang their dishes with a fork and call them, they'd just appear that's how I knew they didn't go far. They'd hear the dishes and me calling and knew they was getting fed.
 

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Mine only go out with me in my fenced backyard or walked on a leash and harness. One of mine goes out on a harness and trolley line too as needed as she can jump the fence easily. Otherwise they stay in, I grew up with indoor/outdoor cats, one never came home, the other came home mauled by a dog or something with a broken leg. That was the end of my family allowing our cats outside freely and they've all lived happy long lives either completely indoor or only allowed out on leash/supervised. I've seen two local cats hit by car this month already and there's cats fighting across the street from me this morning so I wouldn't risk it, besides the obvious wild animal interaction risks/issues.
 
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Mine only go out with me in my fenced backyard or walked on a leash and harness. One of mine goes out on a harness and trolley line too as needed as she can jump the fence easily. Otherwise they stay in, I grew up with indoor/outdoor cats, one never came home, the other came home mauled by a dog or something with a broken leg. That was the end of my family allowing our cats outside freely and they've all lived happy long lives either completely indoor or only allowed out on leash/supervised. I've seen two local cats hit by car this month already and there's cats fighting across the street from me this morning so I wouldn't risk it, besides the obvious wild animal interaction risks/issues.
I’ve been thinking of getting a leash and harness to let him outside with, just attach it to a spot so he can roam, but not get outside of the fence.
We have dogs on all 3 sides of us so I definitely don’t want him climbing over, but we have a super high privacy fence.
 
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