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The weather has been great these last few days, and I have been spending a lot of time outside tending to plants and starting a little bit of a garden. The dogs sit outside with me, but all poor Midas can do is look out the screen door, or hang out in his catio. He meows because he wants to be by us. I know how badly he would love to sit in the sun with the dogs. Enclosing the whole yard is not practical because I love keeping bird feeders and watching wild birds, but a harness on a long line would be just the thing to make sure he doesn't try to jump over the fence while I'm out there with him.

Except I'm worried that if he gets comfortable in the yard he will start trying to dash out when I let the dogs in and out, which is 5-10 times per day. Right now I can open up the door and he does not try to go out, he just sits on the threshold and watches. He could very easily dart out during this time, but he doesn't. He was formerly an indoor/outdoor cat, but he is indoors except for the catio, and has been indoors only since we moved. When I take him back to my parent's house he does try to dash out because he used to have indoor/outdoor freedom there. He has been the model indoor cat since we moved. I'm also kind of worried about him rolling around in the dirt and then rolling on my pillow. I'm not allergic to cats, but I've noticed he doesn't give me allergies at all now that he can't go outside and bring things I do react to inside. Though I could probably just wipe him down, so this isn't a huge concern.

I really do try my best to keep him happy. The front and back doors are security screen doors and when the weather is nice I leave them open and he goes back and forth between them to see what is going on outside. But when I'm outside and I hear him let out this pitiful meow that sounds so lonely and like we are abandoning him, it breaks my heart. Once I start working I will be able to double his catio size, but I know he will still meow for us if we leave him alone in the house. He is about 3 years old if that matters. Any thoughts, suggestions, or personal experience would be great!

Here is what he gets to look out of for now. Ignore how sad the yard looks, this was a nice day back in the middle of December!



 

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I don't know how but somehow my daughter has trained her cats to stay around her when they are outside and to go in when they go in. BUT her cats have never been "outdoor" cats. I can't believe it but they moved and and the cats still learned to stay with them in the front yard that is not fenced in. They don't stay out long though. Maybe someone who knows the clicker training can help you.
 

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If you do try leash training him/letting him outside again you could create a little door dasher . There are some tricks to try to work around it, like not letting him walk outside, you pick him up and carry him out the door instead, but that's no guarantee that he won't start trying to get out every time you open the door.

I don't know if this is an option, but making the top of your fence at about a 45 degree angle facing in seems to deter cats from trying to jump out of the fence. That way you don't enclose the whole yard, but it stops him from trying to jump the fence.

If he's not currently dashing I don't think I'd leash train him, unless you spend a lot of time out there so he can get his fill.
 

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You seem near guaranteed to create a door dasher. And they meow to be let out and are unhappy indoors afterward -- even if you're inside with them. Even if you let them out on a leash every day, they want out more... to me it seems fairest to either have them be indoor/outdoor or just indoor. People will never be able to give them the time they want outdoors on a leash and once they've adjusted to it out there they want to be free outside all the time.
 

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Our older two set their own limits outside and they worked for us and we have never had a problem. But Athena's personal limits where non-existent so we spent months training her to stick to certain areas outside. It is a pain, but it can be done.

However, Athena was a door dasher from day one. The possibility of creating a door dasher when he isn't one currently is a tough decision.
 

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When we trained Mocha and Tela, both were door dashers to start. However, we were very strict in that if they door dashed, we immediately said no, picked them up, and brought them into their personal "time out rooms". To train them, we would only take them out the same door each time. We initially would tell them it was "outside time" (same words each time), pick them up (never allowed to walk out on their own the first while), and carry them to the designated spots. In our case, they were allowed on our large patio in the backyard. If they put a paw on the grass on their own, we would say a loud "no", pick them up, and back in the house. If they went totally onto the grass, loud "no", pick them up, and into "time out". While they were on the patio, they often wanted to either stand at the edges and eat grass OR roll around on the pavement to get a good scratch. While they were doing this, they would get pets/rubs and told they were good girls. When time was up, we picked them up and brought them in...giving treats and "good girls".

Both Mocha and Tela got the point we could let them out the door on their own and they wouldn't leave the patio area...even if they seen a bug or bird. Mocha got so she didn't even need one of us out with her for her 5 minutes...she'd go down, eat her grass, roll, and come right back in. Tela still needs someone with her for assurance...even when she comes to visit still. She will door dash, but, once out, will not go down the stairs to her patio without a human.

Takes a lot of time, patience, and consistency....but is possible.
 

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My last cat, Midnight, I leash trained after a move, having been a indoor-outdoor cat, previous to that a stray. Even tho we have green space, and are in an end unit, I was uneasy about his trying to get back to his old haunts, and the condo association has strict rules about all animals on a leash.

I trained him getting him used to the harness indoors in short spurts, and then adding the leash, and being sure he was used to it. (be sure to buy a good harness, made specifically for a cat. Dog ones do not work). He actually did not become any more of a door dasher than he had been; I always had to be careful coming & going and that did not change. Even as an older cat, he took to his training, and we walked a lot; I just always made sure there was no play in the leash when he was sniffing a bush, or some other place I did not want him to enter. Worked better than trying to drag him back out after the fact! Cats don't walk like dogs. I let him go his choice of directions after all, it was his walk, unless I needed to make a choice, and then I just made the leash taut and said no, avoiding tugging on him. On occasion I just scooped him up & we went home. We always put the harness on on top of the washing machine as the working height was right for me. Soon, anytime I went to the washing machine there was a flash of black and he was standing there on the machine in front of me.

One of the first times we went out, something startled him and he ran to the end of his leash and did a roll. He learned not to do that.

My current cat is absolutely not interested in going out. I've never tried to coax him, and I don't intend to. He was dumpster feral we obtained as a kitten, so you would think he would, as he was close to 6 mos old, and must remember. I've had him for several years now, and he loves looking out, but, "been there, done that".
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for all the responses! I think I will just keep him indoors. He already has a 10ftx10ft catio, which he has 24/7 access to. That will just have to be enough for him. I really like not having to worry about him trying to get out when I open doors. I think he doesn't dash out because he doesn't view the back yard as his territory, and if he got comfortable in that territory he wouldn't have a problem dashing to it. If I had acres and acres of land, and was going a considerable distance from the house, I wouldn't mind putting a harness on him and carrying him there, but as it stands, he can see most of the yard from the back door or his catio.

Another thing too that I forgot earlier is that there are a number of indoor/outdoor cats in the neighborhood, who he so far just watches politely from the windows. He really doesn't like other cats, and when we first moved in he would act very aggressive towards them. If he thought the back yard was his territory I could see him starting to be aggressive towards them again, and I really don't want that behavior to come back and escalate towards spraying or attacking my dogs. My dogs are pretty good at keeping the other cats out for the sake of my wild birds during the day, but I know they come in at night and he could see them from his catio. I don't really like waking up to his war cry.
 
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