Is it possible to wean an older cat off going outside?


#1

I’ve got two cats, Wrex and Grunt. Wrex is probably close to ten and I’ve had him since before I knew letting cats outside, at least unsupervised, is usually bad; Grunt however, is two, was raised indoors and has no real desire to go out (she’s also siamese and is just clingy in general).

My question is: Is it too late to transition my older cat to an indoor life? He keeps killing mice, his diet is inconsistent and I’m pretty sure he’s fighting, so I think it would be best for all involved, but are the behaviors too ingrained at this point?


#2

It’s totally possible to transition an outdoor cat to indoor, but like anything with regards to cats, it’s never an easy change. For the first little while, expect the cat to whine loudly at windows and doors, display aggressive behavior, and make escape attempts. It’s going to be annoying, but the key is consistency. No letting the cat out for a little bit, or they will expect more time outside. That said, there’s always bribery to calm down your pet, and if they don’t have weight issues, maybe be a bit more generous with treats and up play time to ease the transition. Hope that helps!


#3

We just got a kitten and this is exactly why he’s never setting a foot outdoors. I love him but he’s a cruel little monster and our native bird population has enough problems without unleashing him on them.

With my last cat we just moved her food bowls inside and endured the months of yowling and scratching the door. Eventually she just transitioned into being a fat lazy pacifist.


#4

Playtime and treats is definitely important. There will be a lot of meowing at the door, and toys are a great way to distract the cat. Give treats as a reward for playing with toys.

If the cat can be trained to wear a harness, you might also consider taking it outside on a leash. It’s gonna take a couple weeks of treats and such to get the cat comfortable with wearing a harness. There’s lots of resources about this online, and different training strategies work for different cats. It will take some time, and not are cats are OK with it, but it can work well for some cats.

Another option is building an outdoor cattery or “catio”. A lot of cats really just like to be outside to take in the sounds and smells, sit in the sun, and have a nice view. This does require some significant DIY effort, or hiring someone to build it.