I have been in cat rescue and care for over 25 years. I never adopted any of my rescues to other homes. I kept them all and cared for them to the end of their days. When I hear someone say,
“My cat is afraid to go outside. What do I do?”
I am stunned because this questionable dilemma could be a blessing in disguise.
Why is My Cat Afraid of Outside?
My question is,
“Why do you want your cat outside if they do not want to go?”
In my opinion, this is plum crazy thinking on the part of any cat parent. Perhaps your cat suffers from PTSD. The world is a dangerous place for roaming cats. These dangers are real and quite scary to all loving cat parents.
PTSD is an actual human and cat syndrome after experiencing a traumatic episode. Unless you follow your cat, you undoubtedly never know what happens to your cat when it is allowed to roam outside.
You will probably never know what made your cat afraid to go outside. I do believe that you need to respect this fear.
Leave your cat alone and let it remain where it is the happiest. Give your cat time to recover. When we allow cats to roam the neighborhood, most cat parents do not know where their cat goes. Most do not know what their cat comes up against.
Never place your cat in the same category as a dog. These two are entirely different species when it comes to what makes them the happiest.
Give a dog an open car window to hang its head and feel the cool breezes that put them in heaven. Your dog says, “Is 60 as fast as this car can go?”
A cat, on the other hand, would not like the breeze or the speed. I can hear any of my cats say, “You’re going 15! Slow it down!” Going 15 miles per hour, let alone 60 miles per hour in “Old Nelly,” would be a horrific experience for any of our fur babies.
If out of their carrier in the car, my cats would undoubtedly hide under a seat and get stuck until the car stopped. Cats do not like speed, nor do they appreciate seeing such a massive out-of-doors fly by them so fast.
They do not like car rides to the vet, but will sometimes look outside the window from their carrier. Things seem to go too fast, and there is too much space to feel comfortable.
There are a select few cats who think they are a dog because they enjoy doing what a dog loves to do. However, these cats are few, and I don’t have any at the present time. Thank goodness.
It has been my experience that a few cats we have cared for were fence jumpers. They enjoyed exploring beyond the confines of their home and yard.
However, I never saw a cat venture more than a few houses away from their home. These cats stayed within calling distance and came when called.
I have never been a fan of letting cats roam through the neighborhood. These days you are fortunate or not so fortunate to know your next-door neighbors, so I trust no one.
An indoor cat may become agitated, hiss, hide, not eat or drink, and avoid you if they believe you are going to make them go outside. An inside cat has no desire to go out and smell the roses.
If your cat doesn’t want to go outside, leave it alone, please, and respect the fact that something made them afraid.
Perhaps your cat had an encounter with the following and is traumatized by its experience, as it should be.
- Another cat
- A dog
- A vehicle on the road.
- Some wild animal
- Some wild cat-hating person
- An altercation with other cats or animals
- A Skunk
We have a six-foot privacy fence that helps keep our cats home. Still, after dark, I discovered raccoons, a skunk, and two groundhogs that needed to seek the services of Weight Watchers in our yard. And we live in the city.
Our fence offers protection, but it is not 100% guaranteed. Any of our cats would go after these wild critters, and it may not have a good ending for our cats. For this reason, we do not let any cats out in our yard after 6 pm.
Perhaps your cat’s last venture outside caused them an injury, they ate something toxic that made them ill, or they became temporarily trapped in a confined area and had to figure out how to escape.
What To Do About My Cat Being Afraid of Outside?
This is going to be short and to the point. You do not have to do anything. If your cat seems afraid to go outside and does not want to go outside, do not make it go.
In my opinion, this is cruel and unnecessary. Your cat has already told you how to remedy the situation. It has,
- No interest in going out
- It does not feel comfortable outside as it is afraid
- It is not happy outside
Why worry about your cat being afraid to go outside and continue to persist that your cat goes outside when it is afraid?
A vet visit must be made if,
- Your cat seems nervous, anxious, or traumatized.
- It refuses to eat or drink for 24 hours.
- It is limping.
- It is not moving well.
- It has bite marks or lacerations.
I try to bring some of the outdoors inside for our kitties, and they seem very content. Five of our cats like to walk around the yard and smell everything. When they want to go outside, they sit at the back door. After an hour, they are at the door and want to go back inside.
Cats handle trauma in different ways. Some cats are ready to go outside again after a bad experience. Other cats are more deeply affected and never want to venture outside again. Monitor how your cat acts after it is outside. Is your cat,
- Shaken up
- Not eating or drinking
- Afraid to go near the door
Perhaps you can buy a window hammock so your cat can lie in the hammock by an open window and catch some sun and gentle breezes.
Every inside cat that we care for loves to lay on a cat tree by an open window. This seems to be enough of the great out-of-doors for them to experience. If you have an enclosed front or back porch or patio, perhaps your cat would get enough of the outside in these areas.
You can purchase some containers of cat grass and fresh catnip plants to set in your living room and on your enclosed porch. Some cats miss chewing on grass. Cats not only enjoy chewing on grass, but need grass when they experience an upset belly.
In my opinion, I would not do anything if my cat were afraid to go outside. I would give it more attention, love, hugs, and exciting toys and things to do inside the house. I would not push it to go outdoors again. I would,
- Check for injuries.
- Make sure it has had its rabies shot and vaccinations.
- Make sure it has monthly flea and tick prevention.
- Visit the vet if I am uncomfortable about my cat’s fears.