Cats can be outdoor animals, but many owners keep them indoors for their own safety. Cats are quick and agile so they can easily escape out one of the doors while you’re coming or going.
Most house cats – especially if they have always been inside – are not equipped to handle tuned as those cats who are used to being outdoors.
The good news is that if your cat does get outside, most of them will have sensory overload with their new environment 3 and being outside of a familiar, comfort zone so they will likely turn right around and come back.
Some cats, unfortunately, do dash out the door and their families aren’t able to find time again. Additionally, some owners become injured trying to stop their cat from making a break for it.
The best way to stop your cat from trying to run away is to understand why they’re trying to do it and to try and meet them halfway.
So, Why Do Cats Try to Escape?
Similar to their bigger relatives, cats in the wild are natural hunters who spend time stalking their prey, killing it and bringing it back to their home base (which would be your house).
Cats also have a very strong urge to reproduce, which is why it’s especially important you get your cat fix if you ever plan to let them be an outdoor cat. They may be trying to escape in search of a mate if they are of reproductive age.
You might be thinking that your cat gets all of its meals at home and has this really comfortable house to live in, so why would they try to run away? Their attempts to escape really has nothing to do with you. They still have these natural urges to hunt and find a mate so they will try to go and do it anywhere they can.
Overall, there is a big allure for your cat to head outside and explore. If they have lived inside all their life then the noises and smells that they experience when the door opens will be very appealing to their curious nature. It’s not that they don’t want to be in the house, they’re just naturally curious and want to explore.
Tips for Keeping Your Cat From Escaping
The good news is that you can modify some of your cat’s behaviours to stop them from trying to escape, even if it is their natural urge.
Make It Hard to Escape
You can work on training your cat to stay away from certain zones in your house with special treats that they like.
Any time you see your cat approach a doorway, or spot they can escape from, you need to interrupt them with a loud sound or by clapping your hands and shooing them away from the area. Then you can give them a treat once they are spending time in another area of the house that you do want them to be in.
The idea with this training is to give them a positive association with the safer areas of the house and make doorways (or other escape routes) unappealing for them to be in.
If this doesn’t work for your home, or you don’t want to use this method of training, you can also try a Sticky Paws mat. You would put these mats in the area where you don’t want your cat to be, and it makes the floor uncomfortable for your cat to walk on.
Offer Your Cat Some Alternative Options
Preventing your cat from doing something they really love might seem unfair, so you can always provide your cat with an alternative option to trying to dash outside. If you provide your cat with some more attractive options for lounging then they might not be tempted to dash out the door when you open it.
If you have a big window in your home, you can place a cat tree or a bed for them right in front of the window. You can also place their favourite treats in the tree or on the bed so that your cat is more likely to spend more time there.
When you’re getting ready to open the door, or leave, use positive reinforcement techniques with their favourite treats to get them to stay in the bed/cat tree (as long as it’s not too close to the door you’re using).
You can also ask your friends and family to stop by and knock on the door or ring the doorbell so that your cat gets used to people coming to the door without trying to make a run for it. Every time someone knocks at the door, give your cat a treat so they have a positive association with it.
Safety Tips You Need to Know About (Just in Case Your Cat Does Get Out)
As much as you might try to keep your cat inside, they still might get outside for an adventure. There are a few steps you can take to make sure your cat is protected and comes back safe.
Spay/Neuter Your Cat
As mentioned in this article, your cat has naturally has a very strong urge to find a mate and reproduce. if you think there’s a chance your cat might get outside then it’s very important to get them fixed so that you don’t unexpectedly end up with a litter of kittens.
As an added bonus, getting your cat fixed can curb their urge to escape and find a mate so you might have an easier time of keeping your cat in the house.
Get a Collar With a Tag
For indoor cats, one of the best things you can do is to put a collar with tags on your cat. The tag needs to include your name and your phone number so that a person would know how to get ahold of you if they found your cat roaming the streets.
Depending on the size of the tag, you may also want to note that your cat is an indoor cat so if someone does find them the person knows that they are not supposed to be out on their own and will call you.
Put a Sign on Your Door
if you’re worried your cat may still try to make a break for it, you can always put a sign on your door. This sign will alert any visitors to be careful before opening the door so they know to look out and make sure they aren’t leaving the door open.
Keep Them Vaccinated
There are lots of things your cat can get into while they’re out exploring the neighborhood. You can help protect your cat by making sure that they are up to date on all their vaccines. You can discuss the appropriate vaccines needed for your cat with your vet based on what you anticipate happening.
The Middle Ground
The good news is that there are a few ways you can give your cat the wonder of the outside while keeping them safe and make sure they don’t run away.
Take Your Cat for a Walk
You can purchase a harness and leash for your cat. This way you can take your cat outside without worrying they will run away. With this, you can take your cat for a walk or just hang out in the backyard while your cat enjoys the outdoors.
You will want to make sure the leash is long enough that your cat can explore the environment. The harness should also be snug enough to cat’s body so they can’t escape out of it.
Create a Long Lead
Similar to putting your cat on a leash, you can put a harness on your cat and attach the harness to a long lead in the backyard. This allows your cat to have the freedom to roam around the backyard without the risk of running away or being exposed to the danger of the neighbourhood.
You love your cat, and you want to keep them safe indoors with you so that they aren’t exposed to disease or predators. Even though your cat is going to be naturally curious about the outdoors you still want to make sure that your furry best friend doesn’t make a break for it when you’re opening the door to leave.
By training your cat to enjoy other areas of your home more than the doorways, you can make sure they don’t escape when you open the door because they are lounging in their bed or cat tree.
Positive reinforcement training, with their favourite treats, can be very helpful for keeping an indoor cat indoors and safe. If you do have any concerns about your cat accidentally escaping you can put your phone number and name on the collar tags so that anyone who finds your cat can call you right away. Additionally, spend time with your cat outside in a controlled way so that you give them the best of both worlds and you can help curb their desire to run.