Letting out for the first time

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Inkycat
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Letting out for the first time

Post by Inkycat » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:44 pm

I’ve had Inky for about a month now, so maybe she’s not quite ready. She’s 8 years old and she’s always been an indoor cat, but I’d like her to enjoy the garden. She escaped a week after I got her and was out for about 3hours, but she didn’t go far from home. I’ve also taken her out on a harness and she wasn’t sure but I think it’s the harness she’s not sure about. How do I go about letting Inky out?

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:23 am

I would go out with her at first, simple as that. If she is curious about the outside world and well bonded to you and home then she is probably ready. And it sounds obvious but leave the door open.

With kittens you can use the first few ventures out to teach the basics of being safe outdoors, don't know if this would work with an 8 year old but you can always try. If she wanders in a direction you don't want her to go, like towards a road, shout. When spooked they normally run for home. The idea is to associate going in the undesirable direction with something unpleasant and encourage exploring the safer places. It's surprising how well it can work with kittens, got to be worth a try with an older cat. Try not to be too nervous.

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Ruth B
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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Ruth B » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:58 pm

Blue, our old Ragdoll (now no longer with us) was three years old when i got him and then Tiggy was two years old when we adopted her, both had been indoor only cats before we had them, and both adapted very well to being indoor/outdoor cats with a cat flap to allow them to come and go as they pleased.

The main thing is to let them explore at their own pace, but make sure they now your voice and their name so they will respond when you call. When ever I get another cat I always start by calling their name whenever I feed them, even if they are right beside me, it means they associate their name with food. When you do first let her out do it 10 minutes of so before her normal feeding time and either go with her or watch from a window, after 10 minutes, call her in and feed her, even if she doesn't come straight in, try again in another 5 minutes or so until she comes back in on her own. I wouldn't advise going and getting her unless she has wandered too far away. Always remember that a cat can smell its own paw prints and will use that to help find their way home.

Most cats seem happy to stay close to home at first and then slowly expand their territory once they have had a chance to check out any 'messages' left by other cats in the area. Adult cats I think are actually better for this than kittens, while curious of their new surroundings they are more wary about what they might find out there.

Hopefully she won't go near the road, but if you ever see between your car and your garden, then get in it and rev it well, hopefully it will scare her and make her run for home, then give her lots of fuss once she is back inside. I don't normally advocate scaring a cat deliberately but the sooner she learns that the noise of cars is scary and something to run away from the better.

When I read about what you shouldn't do with Ragdolls, I'm very glad I hadn't heard it before we had one, we treated him as a normal cat and I am sure it is because we did that he ended up the way he was. They tell you that they can't cope with out doors, or meeting new cats, etc., but watching him outside, I have realised that so much of it was hardwired into his brain regardless of his breeding, as long as he was given a chance to access it. I think we are lucky with cats that they haven't been bred so far from their roots as dogs have and even in the pedigree ones the basic instincts still exist.

I am sure Inky will be fine, just let her take it at her speed, being 8 I also think she will decide to accept a nice small territory such as your own back garden with maybe the occasional visit to the adjacent ones, and be happy to have the chance to enjoy the sun and the wind in her fur.

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:47 pm

Where's the LIKE button? Ruth I love your advice and I love your Ragdoll. Mine (retired stud aged 8) came with a contract including never to roam free. I don't even agree with indoor cats but as that's all I had to offer I took on an adult who had never known outdoors, then a second one because he was so stressed about being alone and would run to the window calling desperately whenever he heard a cat. He would love to go exploring. And his friend who was rehomed as an indoor I realised pretty quickly the only outdoors she was offered was too scary, and she would have blossomed in a secure quiet garden and been deadly to the local wildlife. The rescue I got her from will not home a kitten to indoor only as they say you don't know the cat's character and it may not be suitable. Dogs have been domesticated, the cat has a dual personality: both human kitten and fully wild at the same time.

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Alice » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:49 pm

Yes, Ruth, when I took on my two Ragdolls, aged 5 and 6, and always kept indoors, I'd read that they'd no sense of danger and weren't streetwise. After a time my vet advised me to try letting them out and they really love being in the garden, mine or next door's, but don't roam, thankfully, and certainly keep away from cars or anything noisy. When they first met a neighbour's cat they were soon rubbing noses - so much for what the textbooks tell us!! These two obviously hadn't read them.

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Ruth B » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:16 pm

Alice, it seems like you and me quote from the same book when it comes to Ragdolls, they aren't half as fragile and unable to cope as they are made out to be, Blue's only fear was Fireworks, and there are a lot of cats that are scared of those, as long as he had an indoor litter tray and a dark hidey hole to go in he was fine. I would love another one, I'm just afraid I won't be able to find a good breeder who will be willing to at least listen and consider what I can offer. I know I could find a 'bad' breeder that wouldn't care but I couldn't in conscience go to one of those. I would normally go for a rescue cat, but I would love another Ragdoll when the vacancy arises.

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Inkycat » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:01 pm

You have no idea how much this has eased my worries. Thank you so much. I’ve read so much about not letting cats out, that they’ll fight with everyone and everything and I’d got myself so worked up about whether or not to let her out. I may give it a little longer just until I’m brave enough but will give it a go. Thank you

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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:31 pm

Inkycat wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:01 pm
You have no idea how much this has eased my worries. Thank you so much. I’ve read so much about not letting cats out, that they’ll fight with everyone and everything and I’d got myself so worked up about whether or not to let her out. I may give it a little longer just until I’m brave enough but will give it a go. Thank you
There are cat forums out there where people can be ever so judgemental and opinionated, and very pedigree focused. Not to imply owners of posh peds and breeders for that matter are all stuck up but it's a matter of here being full of kind supportive people who respect and even celebrate others' different ways. We are after all as unique as our kitties.

Personally, I love my Boo of course, but I wouldn't choose a bred cat again. I'm a moggy kind of girl, I might just have to wait longer for an indoor one when the time comes. But I see the difference where Boo has been bred to be pretty and maybe some of the natural cat features I love so much are a bit diluted. Besides, all that fur !!! It even gets in the fridge and the oven!

It sounds like your girl will be fine and happy if she got out and had 3 hours to herself and then came home. Of course it's always a bit of a worry but ... now, here are some inspiring people, they run a B&B near Fort William in Scotland. They have two rabbits who are free range all day long and have a stable for the night. Aren't they worried about eagles and foxes? Well they say it could happen, but we would rather our rabbits had a free life for 2 years than a caged life of 5 years. I remember them whenever I get nervous.

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Ruth B
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Re: Letting out for the first time

Post by Ruth B » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:19 pm

In the end I think a lot depends on where you live. I used to be totally against keeping a cat indoor only unless there was a medical reason, then I started talking to people in other countries and realised just how safe the UK is when it comes to threats from wildlife. Now I think it is a case of assessing the dangers and deciding if you are willing to take the risk with your pet. If I lived on a main road then I would look at either cat proofing the garden or keeping one indoors, if I lived somewhere with coyotes, bears and eagles I might be more worried about letting a pet cat roam free, but I live in suburbia in the UK and it is about as safe as it can be. I certainly wouldn't decide to keep a cat indoors purely because of its pedigree, Blue was let out to live a normal cat's life in ignorance, but it was one time when ignorance was bliss, I can still remember him just sat in the garden sniffing the breeze, enjoying the feel of the wind in his fur or watching the fish pond, it was the image of pure happiness, he didn't need to go far and after the first time or two exploring he decided that all he really needed was in our back garden and was happy to keep it to that. It possibly helped that when we adopted him we already had a resident tortie moggy and she was willing to see any intruders off.

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