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Calling all cat people
Old 02-03-2013, 03:55 AM   #1
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Calling all cat people

I know we have a lot of fellow cat enthusiast on the forum, and many of you have lots of experience with cats.

I need some advice in keeping my 11 year old male tabby from disappearing for days, weeks and this latest escapade for more than a month. He is sort of like an aboriginal who goes on a walk about and he is driving me crazy with worry at times.

Scamper is perfectly healthy 12 lb tabby. I have had him since adopting him from the humane society 11+ years ago. For his first two year he was raised as indoor kitty, with my other female black cat Rosa Parks. When I move to my current house, along with my ex-girlfriend with her 3 cats, we installed a cat door and all of the cats were indoor/outdoor. Scamper is friendly with people, and gets along very well with other cats. Unlike Rosa who hates other cats and engaged in 3 year long pissing contest with my girlfriends female cat.

My house is terrific place for an outdoor cats. It is at the end of culd-a-sac with the nearest really busy street more than a mile away. I live adjacent to a park and there are no big storm drains. Since I am in Hawaii, we have no snakes, no coyotes or other predators, and mild weather year round. There are lots of Geckos to hunt and other vermin. I have a lot of windows in the house can can observe the cats a lot and they love being outside. As the number cats decreased from 5 to 2 back 4 and then down to 2, I noticed that Scamper was spending a lot of time away from the house. I give him a lot of love, more so than Rosa, but Rosa at best tolerates him even after a decade, and often hiss and lashes out at him. Rosa hates all other cats and launches into a loud hissy fit whenever she spots any cat. (Although she did survive a 3 week stay in a kennel several years ago in the company of other cats.)

About 3 years, Scamper disappeared for more than two weeks. After posting signs in the neighborhood and going door to door. I found him being feed by a neighbor down the street. Starting in 2012ing his wandering behavior has gotten worse. Disappearing for a night or two a week, and the disappearing for almost a week each month. This culminated late in the year. Shortly before Thanksgiving he disappeared after the normal week was up I started walking door to door and handing out/putting up flyers. In my discussion with neighbors I found he was occasionally eating at one of the neighbors who has ~10 cats and puts out lots of food outdoors. It turns out there are at least two other neighbors who have food outdoors. As well as large feral cat colony in the park/wilderness area near the house. Several people provide food for the cat colony. In short, it isn't exactly a challenge for him to find food. He always returns hungry, but not starving and with no weight loss. The Thanksgiving disappearance was 23 days. I kept both cats in door for a week. They eventually got out and he stuck around the house for more than week. Right after Xmas he disappeared account. I had to go to the mainland for 11 days (something I do 4 to 5 times a year). During the time my neighbors feeding him saw no sign of him, which is not unusual. He finally showed up up in my living room Feb 1 meaning he had disappeared for 34 days.

He has two collars, a name tag, and also a radio transmitter. Which cost $300, but has turned out to be mostly useless for locating him. I will keep him indoors as long as possible. But both cat meow pretty loudly after several days of being kept indoors. Plus realistically when I am gone the cats will need to be let out.

When he returns he is the normal affectionate kitty, I love happily purring on my chest on the couch, hanging out with my in my office, and curling up next to me in bed.

If anybody has ideas, how best to keep him closer to home, I'd be very grateful.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:43 AM   #2
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Outdoor cats is one reason the native bird population in HI is going south.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:32 AM   #3
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If you don't want to make him a house cat, maybe you can take him for walks on a leash. That's what I'm doing with the cat we just got. We live on the second floor of an apartment building that has an exterior walkway. We let her out for a few minutes alone (keeping an eye on her through the screen door or kitchen window) and she pretty much stays up on the walkway or lounges on the steps leading to ground level. When she sees a bird, she runs all the way down to the grass but she doesn't keep going. We chastise her and tell her to get back upstairs and she does. I was very concerned the first time she ran down to the grass that she would keep going but she doesn't. She actually minds.

We also take her on walks on a leash so she can feel like she is roaming a little wider. It only took a few tries (5-6) to get her to walk instead of just flopping down and staying there. We got her from someone who found her so we don't know her background and whether she was an indoor, outdoor, or indoor/outdoor cat in her previous life. She is 18-24 months old and very playful and full of energy which is why we decided she couldn't stay cooped up in our smallish apartment for her sanity and ours!

The harness we use is called the Walking Jacket by MetPet. There is no way she can get out of it and she doesn't seem to mind wearing it. If I could get her to stop smelling EVERY little thing she passes, we might actually get to walk!
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:42 AM   #4
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How to keep him closer to home? Keep him IN the home. Sorry, but I cannot agree with cat owners who let their cats come and go. That bugs me as much as dog owners who leave their dog out 24/7.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:07 AM   #5
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Once a cat's been outside it's difficult to keep them from craving to go out. Outdoor vs Indoor is a big debate (which I'm really not trying to get into). My late friend had cats over the years and did let them out. My view is I've switched over from okay to let them outside to indoor only as it was just too heart breaking after we lost one who went out each night then one night didn't come home. The average lifespan of outdoor cats are lower than indoor by many years.

A compromise is a cat enclosure. Unfortunately, in my opinion they are a huge investment and my not be practical for everyone, but fun to look at.

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Old 02-03-2013, 09:38 AM   #6
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Short of keeping him indoors, I'm not sure there is much you can do, as he is just exercising his hunting instincts. Also, when going away for long periods like that, makes me wonder if there is the kitty equivalent of Alzheimers.

Where's Purron, maybe she has some advice?
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:46 AM   #7
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If the cat does not come back, it was not yours anyway.
A fw years ago we got our cat Charley. We kept him indoors for about two weeks, then let him out. He took off, at the end of the yard stopped, looked back for about 5 minutes motionless, then was gone.

DW fretted, the second day still no show. I told her the same thing, if he does not come back he was not ours anyway. The third day he showed up, sitting on a window sill.

Occasionally he still disappears for a a day or two. That is fine.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
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We have 2 cats who are indoor/outdoor kitties. We live in a huge woods where our nearest neighbor is a mile away. Our male cat, Cricket (neutered) likes to go hunting and occasionally stays out over night. He usually is on the back deck ready to get in when I awake at 4AM. (However, since it just retired, it may be 5AM now....) He has been gone for a few days, but he has always returned after making his rounds. I don't think there is anything that you can do to prevent your cat from roaming around once he's out side. As long as the neighbors don't mind him eating their cats' food, he is good to go. Just think of how he enjoys getting out feeling the natural surroundings... If you were locked in a nursing home, just think how much you'd look forward to getting out on your own. Give the lil rascal some freedom!!!
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:50 PM   #9
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Your cat is cheating on you. He's out having fun, eating at other houses, probably getting into fights and eating birds.

This is pretty normal cat behavior. Some cats are home bodies and some have wanderlust.

If he's not fixed, doing that will help, although some fixed cats will still wander.

Meanwhile, I think there is no way to keep him home short of building a backyard enclosure.

It's hard to transition a cat from outdoors to indoor only, I know.

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Old 02-03-2013, 02:06 PM   #10
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My parents' fixed cat would wander. They tried to keep him in but he started marking everything in the house. I think it is their nature. He also used to go to the Buddhist temple behind the house (in Sri Lanka) and beg from the monks.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ShortInSeattle View Post
Your cat is cheating on you. He's out having fun, eating at other houses, probably getting into fights and eating birds.

This is pretty normal cat behavior. Some cats are home bodies and some have wanderlust.

If he's not fixed, doing that will help, although some fixed cats will still wander.

Meanwhile, I think there is no way to keep him home short of building a backyard enclosure.

It's hard to transition a cat from outdoors to indoor only, I know.

SIS
Oh I know he has been catting around forever. I listened to a grad student discuss her findings after she putting a kittycam on a couple hundred cats and watch the thousands of hours of video. IIRC, roughly 20% of all cats eat and somebodies elses house.

He is fixed and I think I will trying walking him on a leash for a while. I don't have any trips to the mainland planned for a couple months. So I can keep him indoors for a least a while. I guess I'll deal with problem with trips when I come to it..

One of things that is nice about outdoor cats is not having to clean litter boxes, but I'll be the first to say that it well worth the effort to clean litter box to have my cat back..
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:40 PM   #12
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I never really trained my cat to "walk" on a leash, but we do go outside frequently in summer. usually when I'm gardening. He's put on a long leash and tethered close to me on a fence railing so he can roam a good deal before having to be untangled. Or I let him roam the garden and around the house with the long leash on and keep an eye on him. If he starts going too fast I can easily catch him by spying the leash he's dragging and catching him. He's used to the routine now and knows his boundaries. Mostly he likes eating grass/catmint and smelling things.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:54 PM   #13
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Oh I know he has been catting around forever. I listened to a grad student discuss her findings after she putting a kittycam on a couple hundred cats and watch the thousands of hours of video. IIRC, roughly 20% of all cats eat and somebodies elses house.

He is fixed and I think I will trying walking him on a leash for a while. I don't have any trips to the mainland planned for a couple months. So I can keep him indoors for a least a while. I guess I'll deal with problem with trips when I come to it..

One of things that is nice about outdoor cats is not having to clean litter boxes, but I'll be the first to say that it well worth the effort to clean litter box to have my cat back..
Get yourself some earplugs because my guess is you're going to have one whining kitty!
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:14 PM   #14
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Get yourself some earplugs because my guess is you're going to have one whining kitty!
Ya the howling has been pretty bad in the past. But so far it hasn't be horrible.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:11 PM   #15
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Maybe Nords has been trapping him and taking him to the far end of the island and it just takes that long to hitchhike back.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:37 PM   #16
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He's 12. Getting kinda old. Start working with him to say inside more. An old dude like him will settle down soon I think.

I think you've given Scamper a pretty awesome life.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:19 PM   #17
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Do you feed him only dry cat food? If so, I'd try feeding him a small amount of wet cat food in mid evening and then keeping him in until the next day. Most cats love wet cat food although many owners and vets think it is bad for the animal. This treat at night might be enough to entice him to keep coming back home as the neighbors are probably feeding him dry food.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:19 AM   #18
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We had an outdoor/indoor cat... I put outdoor as her previous owner had her outdoors almost all the time... she had decided to live on my driveway for about 5 years...

When we moved, we took her along with us (the previous owner had already moved)... however, she INSISTED on going outside... she would wait by the door for hours until someone opened it and out she went...

We lost her before Thanksgiving... she went out like every other time, but never returned...

We have two young cats now... one wants to go outside, and we have let her out a few times during the day... she is adventurous.... she is not afraid of anything... Our new cat is a scardey cat... He jumps at almost any noise... runs away from you... hides... we just got him a couple of months ago and he is improving, but we wonder how he had survived prior to being rescued... He has only once seemed like he wanted to go outside...

So, different cats want different things...
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:33 AM   #19
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Sorry, after losing one beloved cat to being hit by a truck and another killed by another animal, we decided to never have an outside cat again. Even if your cat stays nearby, dogs or cars can kill him.
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:48 PM   #20
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He's 12. Getting kinda old. Start working with him to say inside more. An old dude like him will settle down soon I think.

I think you've given Scamper a pretty awesome life.
This was my thought as well. And I think ABQs idea is also good. Make what you are feeding a bit more tasty than what else is out there.

I have 6 cats, and 3 of them are almost always inside with us. The pet door is open 24/7 (we live way out in the country so while there are predators possible, the 5 dogs generally keep the yard free of danger). One of the outside 3 got injured last week and I had an impressive time trying to get her into a carrier to take to the vet, her first one in her life (we took her straight from being trapped as a kitten to get spayed). The vets have always had some extreme drama giving her the 3 year rabies shot when they do our farm visit. I had to keep her in for the rest of the weekend and she raised such a ruckus that I was delighted to send her out into the wilderness this am.

The way I feel is this: I am able to give my cats a life that makes them very happy--the chance to be outside and inside, at their choice. If that means that I lose one earlier because of it, then I have to accept I've shorted their quantity of life to give them higher quality of life.

I think you should try to keep him in as much as you can, but when he wants to go, then let him and try as hard as you can not to worry. And get some tasty cat food to tempt him back!

Scamper has a GREAT life with you, I agree!
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