Cat has wild personality, should he be outdoors? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Cat has wild personality, should he be outdoors?

Hello! My cat Watson has always been a leader-of-the-pack type, and I have had several vets comment on how "wild" he seems. Although he'll cuddle at times, he is generally more of a curious and independent type of cat, liking to always watch the action without being directly involved.

He has never been an outdoor cat, but he seems to desperately want to be outside. I have a screened-in porch that he loves to sit in and watch the squirrels and birds. If I open that door or the front door to my house, he is right there hoping I will let him out. He accidently got outside once, and was lounging in the sun when we found him acting like he didn't have a care in the world.

But he seems bored a lot. I play with him with a laser pointer, da'bird, and I have a second cat that he tumbles around with too. But even with exercise and the other kitty, he still seems agitated and bored. He has even started rough housing way too much with my other cat, who is far more gentle. She has been getting very upset at him, growling and running away. I don't want her to have to feel afraid of him. I think he attacks her more when he hasn't had enough stimulation. They're friendly with each other most of the time, but it's always Watson who instigates fighting.

What do you guys think about allowing him to go outdoors? I don't want him to strictly become an outdoor cat, but I feel like with his wild nature it might be more beneficial for him to be able to explore. We live on a quiet street with hardly any cars, and he is already friends with a neighbor cat that wanders into our yard every day. Is it bad to transition cats, and is it really as dangerous as I am letting myself to believe? Or should I just get him a harness and let him lead me around? Thanks for your help, I just want to help him be a happy cat.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 08:57 AM
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I think it is a great idea if he still has his claws (needs them for self defense). You will also likely have to deal with tick and fleas. I would put a collar with a bell or two on him for the safety of the birds and in case he gets lost, or decides not to come home one day. Maybe even microchip him. REMEMBER! Indoor only cats live much longer than outdoor cats - think cars, wild animals, poisons, etc. It's a chance we take with that decision. Having said all that, lots of cats love being outside and live long, healthy lives! My 5 have not been outside here and look at me like I am crazy when I go out. They actually back up when I open the door! They know who butters their bread - and they ain't goin' anywhere! Let us know how Watson likes his newfound freedom if you decide to do that.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your response Marcia!

Watson still has all of his claws, and has been microchipped. I have both cats on a Frontline plan, because they have gotten fleas in the past just from being on the screened porch.

I agree, I am terrified of something happening to him, but my husband has had a few outdoor cats, one of whom lived to 18! Watson is the first pet my husband and I got together, so I am a bit of an extra-softy for him. In the end I might need to put my own fears aside and realize that he will probably be much happier.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 12:27 PM
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In general, my cats are indoor / outdoor and have lived long lives but there are all sorts of variables. There is at least one of my current crew that I can not imagine ever being willing to let out unsupervised. That is down to the individual but there are other factors relating to your personal local environment.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 01:54 PM
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There's a few things to consider first, before you decide to let him out sometimes.

1. Is he neutered? I'm assuming he is, but since I don't like to make assumptions I thought I'd check. If I'm wrong and he's not neutered then you should NOT let him out, and it could also be why he's so 'wild' and wants out so badly.

2. How old is he? If he's under 2 then it's just kitten energy, and in any case the world is much more dangerous for kittens.

3. Is he up to date on his vaccinations? Even if he is, and you can discount many diseases, you still need to know he could get hurt or catch something that isn't vaccinated against. Be aware of it and keep it in mind when you make this choice.

4. What is your area like? Lots of busy roads? Lots of people? Quiet and calm? Lots of loose dogs/predators???

TBH my four will NEVER go out unsupervised and free, I'd be way too worried and we live in an area where it simply isn't safe. last summer we built them a 'catio' in our backyard and it was a huge hit (and will be again this year once the snow is gone). I feel safe putting them in there and they still get to sniff, eat grass, and scent mark to their little hearts content. That's a happy compromise in my mind.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 02:24 PM
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librarychick covered the basics, but I also wanted stress that some cats just shouldn't go outside, it's really dependent on their personality. Some cats are too outgoing, want to explore too much, or are curious about everything, including what's on the other side of the road. Basically constant naive kittens at heart. I met some cats like this once, it's like they didn't have two braincells when it came to cars or strangers and would just walk right up to them like they'd known them all their life and weren't a danger, let me rub their tummy and everything. Some cats just appear to have no survival instincts.

Blacky is indoor/outdoor, we live in the city very close to one of the busiest streets... however, she is the epitome of a trustworthy outdoor cat. Terrified of cars, ignores strangers, doesn't even hunt that much (a few mice, no birds), and 99% of the time never leaves the front or backyard. We also don't have serious predators, if we had coyotes she would not be an indoor/outdoor cat (at least not at night).

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Last edited by Carmel; 02-07-2013 at 02:27 PM.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 02:48 PM
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What if you tried getting him a harness and a leash and take him out? I did that with Casie in the last year of her life. She enjoyed being able to lay out in the grass. She also was an older cat, so she wouldn't leave sight of the house and ran to the house at the first sign of danger. I would never have let her out alone though. We have too many coyotes and stray cats and dogs around. Our neighbor's cat actually was recently killed by a coyote.

Personally, I wouldn't let any of my cats out on their own. Maybe if I could trust them to stay around the house and if I was with them, but I'd never want to risk it. I was even terrified for my neighbor's cats when I watched them. I tried my best to get them inside at night.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 02:56 PM
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Of course, there are risks to letting a cat outside. Whether those risks are worth it really depends on your area and your personal comfort level.

I would recommend supervising him outdoors, building him a safe outdoor enclosure, or trying to teach him to walk on a harness. All of that would give him outdoor time, while still satisfying your peace of mind.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 02:57 PM
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For the first time ever, I have a cat that I don't think will ever be able to go out on his own - he is a big neutered male and it's certainly not because he is fragile. He is, however, the most na´ve and vulnerable cat I have ever owned. He simply hasn't matured mentally at all. Where I live, indoor / outdoor cats are the norm and, in my experience, live as long around here BUT each case really needs to be treated individually (eg. we don't have coyotes and we don't have rabies).
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Librarychick -

I really appreciate your thorough response and checklist for me to consider. Watson is neutered, and is up-to-date on vaccines. He will be two years old mid-March.

I think I have to agree with most of the comments; though he may be okay outdoors and enjoy it, as his owner I am too worried for him. He is exceptionally curious and loves to chase/hunt. He has killed three mice in our house and I just know he would chase a squirrel without thinking of surrounding dangers (cars, etc.)

I think I will purchase a harness for him in the next day or so and allow him to walk me in the backyard. Thank you all! I will let you know what he thinks!
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