There are quite a few people who want to know how to keep a cat from going outside all the time. In this article, I will cover some of the best methods to keep the fuzzy little pet indoors.
If possible, try to make the exit as unappealing as possible, with barriers and sprays. In addition, try to distract the cat with something else every time it wants to go outside. And if you didn’t already, get your pet spayed or neutered and microchipped, and buy a decent ID collar in case it gets lost. Finally, make the indoors as appealing as possible, with toys, cat trees, and treats.
How To Keep a Cat From Going Outside
When you think of cats, you think of animals who are completely domesticated, who love to live indoors with humans. But just because they’re domesticated doesn’t mean all indoor cats behave. More often than not, they will want to dart through the door and into the open world before them. So, as cat owners, you have to figure out how to keep a cat from going outside all the time.
‘But why should I care?’, I hear you asking. ‘Don’t the cats love the outdoors?’ Well, yes, they absolutely do. But if your kitty bolts through that door, it might not have the best of times out there. For instance, other wild animals might attack it, it might ingest poison, or even contract a disease, or it might get run over by a car. None of those seem like appealing options to someone who has a feline friend.
Of course, before you learn how to keep a cat from going outside, you need to figure out why it has the urge to abandon the household. Once you have the reason pinned down, you’ll figure out how to best approach your cat and keep it inside.
House-Bolting and Cats: Possible Reasons Behind the Behavior
If your cat has not been neutered or spayed, it will actively seek out a mate. And in order to find one, it needs to go outside. Once it’s out, it can be gone for as long as two weeks.
Most of non-spayed or non-neutered cats are feral, and they can appear anywhere. All your cat really needs is to hear the familiar yowling mating call and it’ll try to exit the house. Interestingly, sometimes even treated cats can respond to these calls. This behavior is most likely an indicator that the spaying/neutering procedure didn’t go well, i.e., that there are still some reproductive organ remains that the vet needs to remove.
My cat might be used to getting food at regular intervals; after all, it happens every day, it’s safe, and it requires next to no effort on its part. But cats are animals and predatory ones at that. And predatory animals will always have the instinct to hunt.
Sometimes, a cat won’t even eat the prey it catches. It might just play around with it, ‘for sport.’ But most of the time, it will try to catch that mouse or that sparrow because it wants a light snack. These hunts help the cat retain its reflexes and hone its skills in running, jumping, and pouncing.
Spayed animals don’t usually go out to mate, and quite a few don’t even hunt, either. But if I were to see my neutered cat bolt outside to fight some other cat, I can surmise that it’s just being territorial.
When cats find a spot they deem safe, they ‘mark’ it like most mammals do — by urinating around its borders. So, how come the cat is not urinating inside? Well, cats don’t necessarily just see the house or the apartment as its territory. In fact, in that regard, cats are a lot like humans. Aside from our home, we also tend to claim our front and back yard, as well as any area directly in front of our…well, front gates.
Cats will often see the surrounding area (sidewalk, stairs, street corners, and more) as a part of their turf. So, if your kitty is urinating all over the street and not coming back inside, you’ll know it’s marking its property.
How to Keep a Cat From Going Outside: List of Methods
Most of our cat’s behavior is acquired in early kittenhood. So, if you want to figure out how to keep a cat from going outside effectively, start training it at this stage.
When my own cat was a kitten, I made sure to make the indoors as appealing as possible. So, I littered my home with cat toys, food, water, etc. Moreover, I made sure to be as involved in its life as I could so that it would associate playtime and cuddle time with being indoors. Naturally, I started letting the kitty out as it grew, but by that point, it had started associating my home with safety and security, so it never went far away. Not once did it try to run off.
In short, get ‘em while they’re young.
Install a Cat Door
Instead of letting the cat exit doors and windows, give it a single, surefire route to outside, i.e., a cat door. Cat doors are a spectacular solution since you can lock and unlock them at will. Once your furry friend gets used to them, you can simply lock them during the night. That way, there will be no danger of your kitty running off and getting into trouble with strays and vehicles.
Some people I know personally have mastered how to keep a cat from going outside, since their two Siamese kitties kept bailing on them. They installed an electric pet door that would only open if the pet has a special key on its collar. So, whenever their dog went outside, the collar opened the door. But the cats, who had no collar, had to stay put unless the owners put the collars on them. Soon enough, both cats stopped darting outside and the owners didn’t need the electronic pet door anymore.
Get a Leash
If you happen to live in a peaceful neighborhood, you might want to regularly walk your cat, and that will require buying a harness and a leash. However, keep in mind that training a cat to walk on a leash is quite difficult and it takes a while to master.
Of course, I’m aware that you want to know how to keep a cat from going outside, not how to take it for a walk. However, by walking the cat regularly, you will offer it a chance to spend some quality time outside. That way, you can reduce the risk of your puss running off into the night.
Cats tend to follow their owners when they’re about to leave the house. So, figuring out how to keep a cat from going outside during these moments is crucial.
Speaking from personal experience, I would always try to distract my kitty with some snacks just as I was about to leave. While the fuzzball was gnawing at them, I’d close the door and get on my way.
But food isn’t the only useful motivator to keep the cat indoors. You can also use toys or install a cat tower nearby. There are also interactive toys that display lasers for the kitty to chase. These devices will keep the cat entertained for hours while the owner’s away.
Pet-Proof Barriers or Sprays
Sometimes, an owner will need a more hands-on method that will warn the cat not to go outside. One such method is using a pet-proof barrier. First, I attach a special collar around my cat’s neck. Next, I set up the borders of the ‘barrier’ electronically. So, whenever the kitty approaches the door, it emits a beeping sound, warning the pet not to go further. However, if the cat continues walking, a small static shock will jolt it into going back inside.
Pet-proof sprays work similarly to barriers. You position a spray close to the door, and whenever the kitty approaches them in an attempt to leave, a bit of harmless gas gets squirted into its face.
Build an Outdoor Enclosure
I’m not a DIY expert myself, but a few cat owners I know have figured out a great method of keeping the cat safe, but still allowing it to go outdoors. Namely, they managed to build a neat little cat enclosure in their yard for the kitty to play. It’s safe and sound in an outdoor environment and, more importantly, unable to escape.
Of course, you don’t have to make the enclosure if you don’t have the skills or the time to do it. There are plenty of pre-made enclosures out there — you can simply buy one and install it. In addition, you can hire a craftsman to make an enclosure tailor-made for your kitty.
More often than not, cats will leave when they’re in heat. And even if you manage to block all the exits, you will still have a frustrated cat who won’t be able to stop meowing at you.
In order to get some peace of mind, it’s vital that you get a vet to neuter or spay your cat. That will not only suppress its urge to mate but also help in keeping your cat indoors.
Cats love to climb, jump, hop, and roam. And some homes simply do not provide that type of exercise. So, the best way to go about it is to buy your cat a big, sturdy cat tree (also known as a cat condo or a tower).
When I installed my cat’s own elaborate condo, I made sure to put it away from the front door, next to the window that was overlooking the yard. Furthermore, I hid small caches of catnip in a few cracks. That way, my little companion spent nearly all of its time there; in time, it stopped feeling the urge to go outside. So, when you install your own cat tree, make sure that it’s far away from the cat’s possible exit to the outdoors and use positive reinforcement to keep the cat close to the tree.
ID Collars and Chipping
There are times when you just won’t know how to keep a cat from going outside. If that happens, make sure that you do everything in your power to keep your cat safe. ID collars are an excellent way for people to identify your cat if it ever wanders off. In addition, get your cat microchipped with all the relevant pet data. That way, if it escapes your home and gets lost, you can contact the nearest animal shelter for help and file a report, providing the data within the microchip.
A Few Closing Words
It’s not easy to puzzle out how to keep a cat from going outside, especially for rookie pet owners. However, with some positive reinforcement and effort, you can get your furry little pal to stay indoors. Just don’t try to punish it for leaving or to scare it into staying inside. It might work in the short-term, but your pet will be traumatized and afraid of you, then and you’ll have a whole different set of problems on your hands.