Clamoring to Go Out

Help for the cat intent on escaping.


Your cat has always tried to rush out the front door when it is opened, but lately he seems more determined than ever to make a run for it. You feel bad that he is cooped up inside, but you also know he is infinitely safer in the house. What could be going on?

Any number of things could increase a pet’s determination to make it outdoors: a nearby tomcat the cat feels is getting too close to his territory, new baby birds nesting in a nearby tree or bush, or a gopher or other varmint on your property. And if the cat is not neutered, it could be about the scent of a nearby cat in heat. Whatever the reason, cat “parents” are right to keep their pets in the house at all costs. It’s not just that house cats are unprepared to take care of themselves among cars, bigger animals with their own agendas, sewer drains, metal-tipped fences, and other outdoor distractions. They will also kill local wildlife who are already vulnerable because of living so close to people who have taken over their habitat.

But the solution doesn’t just have to entail the concept of “no.” There’s much you can say “yes” to in order to make life in your house more enticing. One step is to consider getting a second cat. A lot of cats who have been living alone find the addition of a cat to their space stressful, but working through that stress by negotiating territory and other resources keeps a cat’s mind busy. And at the end of it, the two cats may very well take some comfort in each other’s proximity.

Whether or not a second cat is an option, it’s important to enrich a cat’s day-to-day life with climbing frames, window seats with a view to the outside world, hidey-holes, and your own involvement. Even just moving your hand under a blanket for a few minutes will prove very interesting to your pet. Thirty minutes a day of attention through playing games and training a cat to do tricks (it can be broken up into sessions of a few minutes each) will go a long way toward attenuating his wanderlust.


  1. At my house I work to connect my cat to the outside but she is totally indoor cat. My house was blessed with a patio surrounded by the house. She loves going out at night and catching bugs. We have befriended squirrels in the area and feed them nuts at the same time each day. She LOVES to feed Mr. Squirrel and bounds down the stairs each afternoon to sit and watch as they cavort. One time she managed to escape when Mr. Squirrel was outside. She ran out and stood nose to nose with him (really her we later found out). He/she was surprised and so was kitty. T hen kitty turned and ran back to the house. That moment seemed to be enough and she hasn’t tried it again. In England, where I have friends, they have people who will come to your house and help you enclose a portion of your yard so kitty can go out safely. I haven’t heard of anyone who does that here.


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