Cat terrified of outside...

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hayleyrowe
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Cat terrified of outside...

Post by hayleyrowe » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:00 am

Hi all,

My partner and I adopted two 3-year-old cats from a local cat rescue at the beginning of May and I'm having difficulty persuading one of them to go outside.

We were told when we adopted them that they were given up due to the fact that they hunt… so we know that they've been outside cats before. We kept them inside for 2 weeks, as recommended, then decided to let them out to see how they'd get on. One of the cats (Alfie) ran straight outside, investigated the area and came back a couple of hours later without any problems but his brother (Zeke) started crying as soon as we opened the door, ran upstairs and hid for the rest of the day.

The following day we fitted a cat flap so that Alfie could come and go, and didn't think that Zeke would go out, as he had seemed so panic-stricken when we opened the door. We nipped out for the evening and when we returned, he'd disappeared. We looked everywhere, but he was nowhere to be seen. Two days later, we found him wandering around in some land near our house. He wouldn't come when we called, so we had to catch him and bring him inside. He was extremely hungry (and affectionate) when we brought him in, so my thoughts are that he probably panicked when he found himself outside and hid for two days... then ventured from his hiding place when he became hungry. This weekend, we decided to give it another go and opened the back door. Again, he sat by the door crying and then ran upstairs. He even refused to come downstairs to eat for the rest of the day.

He sits on the windowsill watching his brother rolling around in the grass outside and cries and in the evening, he even investigates the cat flap. I suspect that he would prefer to be let out at night than during the day but I'm worried that he'll get lost again.

He's a very playful affectionate cat (though sometimes a little timid around strangers) and given that we were told about his hunting prowess, I don't really want to keep him as an indoor cat.

Can anyone offer any advice?

Thanks,

Hayley
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SarahT1 [PLLE]
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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by SarahT1 [PLLE] » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:59 am

Hello Hayley

Welcome to Cat Chat.

There will be folk much more experienced on here who will advise you very well, but a few thoughts on your little boys...

My first thought it that it is clearly too early for Zeke to contemplate going outdoors in a sensible way. In fact, I think you've been lucky with Alfie, in that he has taken to going out early on and comes home and knows where his food and love are. Although some advice does suggest keeping cats in for two weeks, other advice is that this is far too brief a time for them to be confident with knowing where home is, as you have experienced with Zeke. I will always now come back to a great quotation I read in Your Cat magazine - 'You can never keep a cat in too long, but you can let them out too soon.' I suspect that it is far too soon for Zeke, who is now confused about what he wants to do.

If Alfie is coming home reliably, then it seems the routine is working for him, but just because they were described as hunters by their previous home, it doesn't mean that you have a self fulfilling prophecy here. If Zeke is acting scared of going outside there are probably good reasons for that, which you will never know, but he is telling you something, and you need to respond to that. I think most people on here will say that going out at night is not a good idea for lots of reasons, so even if he begs you to do so, he's missed the boat for the day. Make sure the cat flap is locked at night so neither of them can get into trouble or distress. My sense is that you need to let him to settle into his home for a good while longer before he will want to go out willingly and at the same time protect him from going out when it's not safe for him to do so. If that means that Alfie is under lock down at night too, that's no bad thing.

I'll hand over to more experienced folk now. What beautiful boys you have there. Fusses to them, and lots of positive thoughts and encouragement to you!

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by Crewella » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:03 pm

He's had a big upheaval in recent months - I'd just give hime time and let him decide to go out or not in his own time.

I moved house in late January, and one of my cats, Merrick, has only just started to feel comfortable going out, even though he was the one that went out the most in our old house. I lock ours in at night too, but the back door is open for most of the day for them to come and go as they please.

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by joolie75 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:19 pm

Hi
Every cat is different, as Im sure you know. Although advice is 2 weeks before release after a move/new home, some cats need longer, others shorter. Our Moogle only needs 2-3 days and then he's off into the fields! We have moved 3 times with him and every time its a few days and he's in garden, treating the cat-flap like a revolving door and the house like a hotel.

Now, regards your little man. Sounds like he does want to go out, but something is holding him back. Fear if he leaves you wont be there on his return? Like you suggest, maybe he got lost before and doesn't trust himself.
Have you tried supervised visits? Actually sit in the garden with him? We do that for Moogs first escapade, always. We follow him around, until he reaches a wall/fence/hedge, then we try reamin in the garden, maybe some music, us talking....so he can still hear us, even if he cant see us.

I would say give it a few more weeks and see if he gets any braver, and maybe encourage a little sit in the sun, maybe just outside the back door? Have you got a patio? If you sit in the garden, close to the door, with some treats....show him its ok, you're still around, and such like.

Give him a little snuggle and head rub from me n Moogs!
:D

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by Jacks » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:10 pm

Poor little lad! It sounds like he is still confused after all the changes he has suffered - some cats are more resilient to change than others. They are GORGEOUS boys, by the way! Stunners!

If I were you I would stop trying to get him to go out for the meantime. The LAST thing you want is for a nervous cat to end up getting lost - thank goodness you found him when he went walk-about. I also agree very much about not letting them out at night. My four know that when it's dusk it's shut-up-shop for the night.

I would instead work on the fusses, active play and lots of nice places to perch for the lad. It's good he looks out of the window and watches his brother - who knows what is going through his head but I honestly think he needs more than the couple of weeks to get secure in his new home, with his new family. When he is he will want to explore - but it needs to come from an inner confidence which it sounds like he doesn't have at the moment. The fact that he hides from you confirms that he's not confident and secure, and letting a cat outside in that state is asking for trouble.

I'd be tempted to let the confident boy out when you're at home, but not the nervous one, at the moment. And lock the cat flap at night. x

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by hayleyrowe » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:54 pm

Thank you all so much for your advice. I think you're right about it being too soon for him... it's strange, because he's definitely top cat in the house and is far more dominant than his brother, so I was expecting them to be the other way around!

We've been keeping the cat flap locked in the evening since Zeke's last foray into the unknown, just to be on the safe side, and so we just let Alfie out in the mornings and when we get home from work. He seems happy with that, so that's good!

I'll give Zeke a few more weeks and see how he goes. I don't mind at all if he's an indoor cat, as long as he's happy, but with a bit of luck he'll come around to the idea when he's a bit more settled.

Thanks again to everyone who replied – it's really useful!

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by greenkitty » Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:34 pm

Your boys are beautiful :)

I agree, you need to let him set the pace, he'll go out if and when he's ready, he's obviously just not quite there yet.

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hayleyrowe
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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by hayleyrowe » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:37 pm

joolie75 wrote: Have you tried supervised visits? Actually sit in the garden with him? We do that for Moogs first escapade, always. We follow him around, until he reaches a wall/fence/hedge, then we try reamin in the garden, maybe some music, us talking....so he can still hear us, even if he cant see us.
Hi Joolie,

We did this with Alfie (the more confident cat) but we can't even persuade Zeke to step outside! That's why we were so surprised when he went missing. I suspect that he followed his brother out and then freaked out and hid for two days – so glad we found him!

We'll give him a couple more weeks, then leave the door open when we're outside and see if he'll venture out... maybe some treats would help :)

But hey ho, if he wants to be an indoor cat, that's ok with me. He's very affectionate, so it's no great hardship.

Thanks again,

Hayley

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by Crewella » Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:21 pm

Funnily enough, my Merrick is also much more dominant than the other cats - he swipes anyone who invades his personal space, including me! The way I understand him, he's a bit of a control freak, so when things happen that he's not too sure about, it takes him longer than the others to feel happy about it. As I type, I can see Merrick lying out in the sun, flat on his back and looking like he owns the place. Hopefully Zeke will get there too, however long that takes!

Your cats are beautiful. :)

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Lyn from Australia
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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by Lyn from Australia » Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:21 pm

Stunning cats!! :)

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by hayleyrowe » Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:11 am

UPDATE: We've had a little bit of progress with Zeke. He is now happy to explore just outside the back door, but only when the sun has gone down. So, we've started feeding him when we get home, leaving the door open, so that he gets used to the idea of it. Then, I sit in the garden at about 9 and let him venture out. He still darts back in if he hears a sudden noise (or if he spots my boyfriend, as he's a bit nervous of men), but it's a start at least!

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Re: Cat terrified of outside...

Post by Lyn from Australia » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:04 am

That's so good to hear. I'd rather have a cat who is a little nervous and heads straight back indoors than one with so much confidence it disappears for hours!! Hopefully he'll be less nervous in time, just enough to really enjoy himself.

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