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Why is my cat obsessed with going outside?

Allowing your cat to run through the neighborhood is a dangerous practice. Cats are curious critters. Cats follow their noses, and this often causes a cat to come face to face with danger.

I have been in feline rescue for nearly 40 years and have seen many things happen to cats that were out of my control. Some may call me obsessive about the dangers cats face in our world. However, the dangers are out there, and they are real.

As savvy as cats seem, they are never ready to meet these dangers.

  • Roadway vehicles
  • Stray cats
  • Stray dogs
  • Wild animals such as groundhogs, skunks, badgers, raccoons, bats, and more with the possibility of being rabid
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Open windows
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Cruel kids
  • Dangerous and cruel adults
  • Gunshots aimed at cats
  • Arrows aimed at cats
  • Pellet guns aimed at cats
  • Rituals needing cats to fulfill their needs

Why Is My Cat Obsessed With Going Outside? 

Early in my feline rescue, I installed a long six-foot privacy fence around our house. The installers asked why I wanted a private fence and explained that I needed a way to keep my cats inside the yard. They laughed at me and said,

“A fence will not keep a cat home. If the cat wants out it will jump the fence.”

Throughout the last 30-plus years and over 40 rescues, I cannot remember many of our cats that jumped the fence. Possibly four cats were jumpers.

  • Cats do not understand what is best for them.
  • Cats do not understand that their human parents want to protect them.
  • Cats cannot understand the dangers awaiting them.

I never encouraged any cat to go outside if they did not want to go. This made my life much easier. I had one cat that would sit at the gate and cry, cry, and cry more, and was so miserable until I opened the gate and let him run free. This cat wandered the property next door and went no further. This cat’s previous owner let it run freely. When this happens, it is difficult to break the cycle.

Three stray pit bull dogs killed this cat a few years later. I ended up going to court over the incident, and this incident will never leave my memory.

  • Cats are born to run free.
  • Cats are hunters and enjoy the pursuit of a hunt, especially at night after dark when these dangers become even worse.
  • A cat’s vision is ten times greater than a human’s in the dark.
  • Cats are curious, this curiosity gets them into trouble.
  • Cats are attracted to all the outside has to offer.
  • They want to protect their house.
  • They like to hunt for prey.
  • They may want to hunt for a mate, especially if your cat is not spayed or neutered. Get your cat spayed or neutered!
  • Cat parents develop bad habits in their cats.
  • Cats make friends outside their property much the same as humans. When the cat cannot go outside, it misses its friends.
  • Some cats like a good cat fight.
  • Cats have an inborn genetic nature to explore unknown territories.
  • Cats enjoy smelling the roses, bushes, grass, and nature.

What To Do If My Indoor Cat Is Obsessed With Going Outside? 

  • Be sure to spay or neuter your cat before allowing it outside. Even if your cat is an inside cat, it is essential to spay or neuter. This process eliminates the cat’s desire to hunt for a mate.
  • Try to deter your cat from wanting to go outside. For example, cats do not like aluminum foil. If you place foil sheets across your entryway, some cats will not walk across them.
  • If your cat scratches on your door to go out, you can apply double-sided sticky tape to the most scratched area, which will deter them from this behavior.

I do not like to make a cat’s life miserable, and if they want to go outside, we allow them to do so, but they remain in the confines of our privacy fence.

Our cats enjoy lazing in a lounge chair and feeling the soothing cool breeze. They love the various scents that out-of-doors offer. They love to brush against the trees, sniff the flowers, and chew on the grass.

If you do not have a privacy fence, try bringing in some of the outdoors to your cats, such as,

  • A container of fresh catnip and cat grass and keep it where your kitty can eat it
  • A cat tree by an open window
  • A cat hammock to hang from any window for your cat to rest and look at the outside
  • Cat-friendly flowers or plants
  • An enclosed cat-friendly porch
  • An outside cat containment center
  • Leash and harness train
  • A cat stroller
  • Try Feliway

When Nothing Works, What Do You Do?

Lil’ Luke, a cute black, short-haired kitty, came to my door in mid-March 2018. I guessed him to be about eight months old. He was,

  • Starving
  • Cold and wet (Luke hates wet!)
  • It was-20 degrees
  • A blizzard was flying

I had no idea where he came from so I adopted this fur baby after he passed his physical, got vaccinated, neutered, and had a chip inserted. He did not beg to go out because he did not like to get wet in the snow. During the winter months, I trained him to know his name, Lil’ Luke.

When I call him, he comes 99 percent of the time. I tried twice for three months in the spring and summer to break him of his habit of wanting to go outside, to no avail. I tried everything mentioned above and more. Nothing worked!

I felt our enclosed front porch would be enough to satisfy his desire to go outside, so I made this area cat-friendly. It was not enough to satisfy Luke. He begged to go outside until he became so angry that he started taunting the other five cats. Luke developed a routine as follows, but I soon discovered that Lil’ Luke was training me.

  • Luke goes out our back door every morning, as soon as it is light and never when it is dark. I send him out on a wing and a prayer.
  • Luke immediately jumps the fence, takes his walk wherever, and returns about an hour later to laze on our front steps. I open the door and he comes in for breakfast. I never feed him before I let him out, for obvious reasons. I will follow him someday soon to find out where he is going. If he does not return after one hour, I call him and he comes.
  • Luke is then ready for a nap that lasts all day. He goes out one more time later in the afternoon and comes in before 7 pm, and he knows he is in for the rest of the evening.
  • Sometimes Luke does not jump the fence and opts to laze in a lawn chair. Luke knows the drill, or should I say I know the drill?

Do I like this routine? Absolutely not! 

 And, I do not recommend any cat parents do what I do!

However, Luke is a very happy camper, has had no further behavior problems, and gets along better with the other five cats. If I could do anything else, I certainly would.