Do all cats on a leash become door dashers? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-04-2011, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Do all cats on a leash become door dashers?

I'm considering a leash for my indoor cat, mainly because I'm concerned about him not getting any fresh air. On the other hand, I'm worried that once he gets used to going outside, he may become unhappy about being indoors most of the day (I can't take him out several times a day due to work) and/or demanding all the time to go out...

I found him 2 weeks ago in the street. He seems like an abandoned housecat and he was obviously suffering very much in the street, from hunger, lack of shelter and especially loneliness. He'd spend most of the day sitting at the entrance to the supermarket (which is the most crowded place in the neighborhood). I observed him for about a week or two. He roamed for food and took shelter wherever he could. Eventually he joined the strays' colony I feed. He's still jumpy and extremely frightened of sudden noises and moving things a lot, especially noises coming from outside the apt. and most of all, the shrilling noise from the fights between my colony's cats downstairs.

When I open the door of the apt., he sometimes shows no interest in going out and sometimes dashes out (to the corridor between the apts.) and spends some time there (only if I agree to accompany him), then likes to come back inside. He doesn't go down the stairs towards the street, but we live on a 5th. floor so probably he doesn't smell the outdoors from the corridor here.

The first few days I adopted him, I'd take him to the street when I had to go somewhere (I was afraid of leaving him alone in the apt., didn't know if he'd freak out). When I'd come back, he would always be outside the building, with the strays' colony, looking miserable, he'd dash to me when he'd see me and follow me back to the apt. desperately.

I believe his memories of the street are not good ones. On the other hand, I live in a 1-bedroom apt and I smoke, and I can't fathom him spending his life between these 4 walls without ever getting some fresh air and seeing movement around him.

Your thoughts and experience will be appreciated...!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-04-2011, 09:03 PM
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I've never taken my girls outside on a leash, but plan to do so (or try!) this summer. However, I have two somewhat relevant experiences, although these two examples lead to a contradictory conclusion.

First, two summers ago Muffs accidentally got out before I could stop her. She spent about 45 minutes outside, with me in hot pursuit, before I finally managed to nab her. She was running through the grass, under bushes, in the flower beds, up a few trees and generally having a great time (while I was having a heart attack). For months thereafter, she was a door dasher.

By last summer, the door dashing had stopped. I then started to allow both girls outside in an outdoor enclosure. I did worry that, in doing so, I would turn Muffs back into a door dasher. But, I've had no problems in that regard with either her or Abby. They love to be outside in the enclosure, but they come back inside with no problem and don't try to run out of the house when I come and go.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens this summer when I start taking them for walks...assuming I can get them used to a harness.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-04-2011, 09:21 PM
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My Midnight,over the bridge, became a great leash/harness cat at the age of @ 11 when we moved. He'd been indoor/outdoor before that, originally a stray.

He loved his walks. I work also, so we would go out on days I had time, when weather was good, after work. He would leap on the washer whenever I got near the laundry room cause that's where we put on harness. He wasn't a door dasher, but would have gone out if I had left door open. I did have to be cautious.

Just take your time letting him get used to harness before adding leash. Then only venture out on porch or patio or closed yard for a while. Be prepared for him to be startled in the beginning & run & roll at end of leash.

Be sure to get a harness made specifically for a cat. They are made differently.

Last edited by Janis; 02-04-2011 at 09:24 PM.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2011, 03:09 AM
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Mine only door dash if I haven't taken them out in a while (like a couple of weeks or more). Fortunately, I've learned that if my cats dash out (Pumpkin is the more frequent offender), I should stay calm and just allow them to stay outside for a bit. I watch Simone like a hawk just because he isn't the brightest cat, but if it's Pumpkin, I continue about my business. In fact if I walk inside, she will run up to the front door within 10 minutes crying to come in. However, if I chase after either of my cats when they sneak outside, it will take me a minimum of a half an hour to catch them. Chasing them also teaches them that there are negative consequences to being caught. Instead, I get their favorite treat out and reward them for coming back inside on their own.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2011, 03:46 AM
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Two out of my three girls are walked on a harness and leash, and so far no door dashing (I'm knocking on wood now, before that one bites me! XD).

Alice has only rushed the door once, but it was around the time she was still exploring the house and getting used to the place...she ended up treeing herself due to a scarey little Yorkie dog, but we got her down with minimal effort. We started walking her maybe a month after the treeing incident. She gets so excited to see her harness, it's absolutely adorable. She waits pretty well too.

Samantha loves her walks, and just takes her leisurely time about it. Even without her harness, she steps out on the front door mat with me (or on her own sometimes), and just looks around, takes a good smell, and comes back inside (I didn't get her to start doing this, she started it on her own...scared me half to death when she just waltzed outside on her own the first time!). It may be stupid to say, but I trust her to not leave. She's so attached to me, that I think door dashing will never cross her mind. (Then again, maybe I should knock on some more of that wood...).

Rochelle, as I've mentioned before, has no desire to ever go outside again. I have no idea why she's so frightened, but we've tried with the harness and just holding her close to us when we go outside, and she just freaks out...crying, struggling...as soon as her paws touch carpet though, she's a happy kitty again. I figure why mess with a good thing...she'll never be a door dasher, and thats one less thing to worry about when coming and going from the apartment.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2011, 12:44 PM
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My cats door dashed when they were fairly new to my home. The leash and harness walking did not really have an impact on this. I think cats feel the psychological need to have the choice to leave or not if they wanted to, particularly if they are not 100% secure in their current situation or are new to it, are stressed out, etc. I do believe though that leash training them does open up a certain curiosity as to what is outside...kind of the whole closed door thing with cats.

Now that's it's winter, the door is just not as appealing as it once was. They will sometimes go into the foyer, but more often when I come home to greet me, or if Lacey wants to play with shoe laces since we keep our shoes out there. They seem to have the same curiosity with the closed kitchen cabinets also, particularly the one with the spinning cereal shelf.

...at least this has been my experience
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2011, 12:51 PM
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In rereading your post, I noticed you wrote you smoke. I smoked for 17 years and still do on occasion, but NEVER in the house. During the last 9 years, I just mostly quit about a year ago, I would go outside and light up. I not only did this for my pets' sake (I used to have an African Grey and they cannot tolerate cigarette smoke at all), but for my kids as well. No judgment...just food for thought.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 07:52 AM
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One last thought...
Even in a proper harness/leash, Midnight would very occasionally, usually while rolling on the ground in pleasure, slip his harness. I did have to make sure I kept an eye on him. On the same page with not chasing him, I would squat or bend down, talk to him, try to act normal, and either pick him up or put the harness back on.

On the rare occassions that he did go out the door, same idea...not chasing him, but acting normal and talking him to me. My husband tended to panic & chase him, which only prolonged the chase.

Like your Rochelle, Time Bandit, and as I've mentioned before, Lucky is absolutely not interested in going out either. He actually backs up from an opening door.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 02:53 PM
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All my guys are leash trained - for me it is a safety issue because we travel with them and it is easier to step on a leash than do the reach and grab dance if somebody wants to explore. The only one that is a real door dasher is Methos in the wintertime - he loves to play in the snow. White cat in the dark bouncing thru the snowdrifts = PIA
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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I also have an intuition that Prince will slip his leash if he really wants to go somewhere and I don't. I'm really doubting about the leash. I took him out without a leash today and he didn't leave my side on the street. However, it took hours to bring him back up the stairs (5 floors) to the apt. because he so wanted to stay in the hallways. I'm not sure if he'd been on a leash if I'd been able to pull him upstairs...?

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