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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Outdoor cat became indoor cat

One of my cats (pictured, Toulouse, initially one-year old) used to be an outdoor cat with his previous owner. She told me that he used to spend a lot of time in the trees, and was the only one of her several cats that would greet her visitors. He wasn't neutered at the time. When she gave him to me (having neutered him a few days earlier, as I have a female Persian that is unspayed), he was very afraid of me and of anything that moved. To make a proper introduction to my other cat, I kept him initially in my bedroom for the first week, leaving my other cat in the rest of the apartment (I eventually opened the door and they bonded just fine). In his first day, when cornered, he wasn't aggressive at all, but was almost completely unresponsive to food, water and play. He'd allow me to pet him, but his eyes looked annoyed (or perhaps afraid). 20 hours later, I gained his trust, as he would volunteer his head for petting, and ate the food I gave him. Two days later, he started reacting very strongly to play (i.e. chasing a toy mouse with a string). He became very attached to me, follows me everywhere, grooms me, meows when he wants to play, sleeps in my lap, etc., and now 6 months later, he is still acting the same way. He is very, very active, and it will normally take me 20-30 minutes of very intensive play to tire him every night before sleeping, otherwise he will stay up all night and wake me up.

What I find a bit puzzling is that he is still very, very afraid of any visitors, always running in a panic beneath my bed or inside a box. It's not that they're paying him any attention or trying to pet him, he just flees at the mere sight of anyone who isn't me. He is also still very afraid of everything outside my apartment, and won't step outside even if I put his favorite toys and food (though he'll stay firmly at the entrance). It's a one-bedroom apartment, so I would have thought that a previously-outdoor cat would find it too small. The only times that he has left the apartment were for his vet appointments (deworming, vaccines, blood test - he behaved surprisingly well with the vet, didn't require any restraints nor tried to escape). Yet, I think a part of him really wants to come out, as when he sees me leaving, he puts his paws on the door (standing on his hind legs) in the same way that he does when he wants me to open a door inside the apartment. He will even put his head outside the door for the first half-second, and then hurry back inside in a scared posture (there's nothing scary outside my apartment, just stairs, a very clean floor and an elevator).

So, it seems to me, he went from being a friendly, adventurous outdoor cat, to a people-phobic cat that can't stand being outside the apartment. He doesn't seem to have lost the energy he had when he was an outdoor cat, judging from our play sessions. I am not sure what can be done to make him less afraid of people and the world outside the apartment, I've tried with a cat tree (1.7m tall, which he loves), and giving him rewards after my visitors leave (he won't accept any play or treats while they're in). He has access to several windows that give him a very nice view of a plaza (I live in a third floor).

Any thoughts or suggestions?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 06:34 AM
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What a cute little fellow!

If this were my cat, I think I'd just accept him as he is. You have been gifted with a cat who moved indoors and is happy. Shyness with strangers is not really a *problem*, it's just his personal trait. Read the threads about cats who long to escape and seize every opportunity to get out doors or windows! Count your blessings.

The only downside I can see to this is if you need to travel and have a catsitter come feed him for a few days, but if the catsitter is not there he may eat and be fine. You never know; I catsat for a very shy old lady cat who astonished her owner by letting me brush her fur twice every day while the owner was gone. We had a wonderful time with the brush, cat rolling around on the livingroom rug and purring! Mystery....
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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That's just the thing, his fear of other people and places is not something he always had, as he wasn't like that when he was an outdoor cat with his previous owner. Of course it's not the end of the world, but I kinda feel bad for him because his body language (when I'm about to leave the apartment) still suggests that he really wants to go out, but can't handle the emotions once the door is actually open.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 12:15 PM
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So many outdoor cats that become indoor cats drive their owners crazy trying to get out or sneak out a door every chance they get! If you really want him to go out, and he does seem to want to go with you, buy a pet stroller (Amazon has a good variety) take him out for short "walkies". I've had a stroller for many years now, and my cats love it, and often sit in it when they want to go out. They like quiet streets, don't like heavy or noisy traffic with a lot of trucks, motorcycles, noisy road construction, etc. but do enjoy riding a route, as it gives them a sense of patrolling a territory, which is what they would do if they were an outdoor cat.

"There are no ordinary cats.";"Time spent with a cat is never wasted."~ Colette
"A loving cat can mend a wounded heart." ~ Unknown Author
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-12-2019, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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I live in Bolivia so sadly there's no Amazon (the company) here, but I might find something like that at a pet shop. An alternative I was thinking about was harness-training him, so that eventually we could have walks around the plaza that we have right across the street (the one he looks at through the window). It is usually very quiet around 11 pm, and has many small trees that he could climb.

However, I feel we are still a long way from being able to do that, as he is still getting used to wearing the harness without a leash inside the apartment (he has made great progress in the last 24 hours though). In the short term, I might try the trolley-approach you suggest.

Last edited by marie73; 06-12-2019 at 01:52 PM.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 04:12 PM
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Well I hope the harness you got is an "escape proof" harness --- often the vest type ones are better than straps. I've had cats get spooked and were able to wriggle out of a harness....got to have a snug fit. Good luck!

"There are no ordinary cats.";"Time spent with a cat is never wasted."~ Colette
"A loving cat can mend a wounded heart." ~ Unknown Author
Alkitotle aka "Alkee", "Lambie" (July 2/04 - Oct. 2/15) -- white Devon Rex
in avatar. "Always in my heart."
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 10:03 PM
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My 2 cats always hide when anyone comes into our home. As far as being afraid of the outside, I would be thankful.

Mom to Abby & Gizmo
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