TRAINING AN OUTDOOR CAT TO BE AN INDOOR CAT
By Ellen Odell (RPMT Team Member & Dog Squad Member)
I'm sure the people who have outdoor cats mean their neighbors/neighbors' pets no harm. However, by allowing their cats to roam, they may as well be posting signs: "Yo.. Coyotes... easy dinner pickin's here in Rossmoor...." - which endangers EVERYONE'S pets. Of course, the easiest way to have an indoor cat is to never let it start being an outdoor cat in the first place. (Cats do NOT need to be outside). This is from a friend of mine who is a long time cat owner/rescuer and is what we (in the animal rescue world) call "very cat savvy."
1. PROVIDE KEY THINGS THE CAT GETS OUTSIDE, BUT PUT THEM INSIDE
A couple of cat trees: Not the useless two foot posts, but a real cat tree that is tall, has a bucket, hole, etc. Put them in windows so the cat can climb and look out the window.
Windows: Cats like to watch the world. They can do it from inside if the owner makes cozy cat spots in front of windows with moving things --- trees where birds fly and squirrels climb; cars and people going by, etc. And sun coming in. Find a few of these windows in the house and put a table, a big chair, cat tree or anything in front so the cat has a cat sleeping/viewing spot in front of the window and in the sunshine when it comes through.
2. TRAIN THE OWNER
It isn't so much that the cat cannot be trained to stay inside as much as it is that owners cannot be trained to INSIST that their cats stay inside. They give in when the cat meows or scratches at the door. Well.. they CAN'T! Eventually the cat(s) get used to being inside only. The owners need to get in the habit of keeping the door closed at ALL times - and when the owner has to go in or out, to squeeze through and watch out for the cat at all times. Maybe even put the cat in a room when going out or bringing people in, so the cat cannot escape through the door to the outside. Cats DO get used to being inside only.
3. SPAY/NEUTER!!!!!!!!!!! Gives them less reason to want to go outside.
4. THE LITTER BOX
More often than not, when someone says that their cat insists on being outside, it is because the owner doesn't want to deal with cleaning the littler box, so lets the cat be outside to spare themselves the bother of cleaning the litter box.
It only takes a few minutes to scoop the litter a couple times a day. (If the box still seems icky even after scooping... it is time to completely change the litter). The cleaner the owner keeps the box, the more likely it is that the cat will USE the box. If the owner just doesn't want to, then said owner should compare the simple task of a few minutes of scooping litter once or twice a day to the time wasted with (a) time wasted and (b) expense of dealing with the fleas, ticks, disease, and/or injuries which can befall outdoor cats. (or, in the case of Rossmoor, knowing your beloved cat has died a horrible death by having been eaten alive by a coyote).