My cat wants to go outside. How do I stop this?
Original Question: I have a rescue cat from Angus who is not declawed, wants to be outside most of the day, has attacked a mourning dove yesterday who was injured but the bird was able to fly. I feel terrible because I have feeder outside and she also claws my arms and bites me, not as much as before, but I never know. She has also scratched and bit a friend and I worry that she might harm my little granddaughters. She started this after my 20-year-old male (Simon) was put down (who Clayton saw many years ago) as he had cancer. Is this a grief thing? She rips the inside of my couches and has done this since we moved here 2 years ago. She always has small hard, is fussy over her wet food, is very smart, very picky where her litter boxes are and where she should poo and it is sometimes on the floor if things are not as she likes and loving when she wants to be. She also cries and begs to go outside and every time I open a door she dives out the door. I usually cave and now a poor bird is injured. Do you think that bird will survive? It had had a feather pulled out of its wing. She is overdue for her vaccinations and is booked to be vaccinated this Monday. What vaccines does she really need? The vet refuses to declaw her because she's not a kitten and I get that but I don't know what to do with her. She is not on any meds. I've had cats all my life, but never like this. - Ellen
Thanks for your question.
Unfortunately, if an indoor cat wants to go outside you really don’t have a lot of choice other than to stay diligent about not letting her escape. The experiences she’s had with birds outside has obviously taught her that it is a fascinating environment with a lot of stimulation. I assume that she will continue to try to escape for this reason. The best thing you can do is to try and make the inside as fascinating as the outside by engaging her regularly with toys, lasers, hiding treats and any other kinds of stimulus you can think of. Make sure you don’t play with her with your hand or a toy that you hold. You need to avoid becoming her plaything or else you’ll continue to be the target of her aggressive tendencies.
Declawing is something that is rapidly falling out of favour at many levels of the industry. It has even been banned in entire provinces in Canada and states in the US. One of the main reasons this is occurring is not just because it is an elective, painful procedure that most people believe is done out of convenience for the owner so that their furniture doesn’t get wrecked. In your case it also becomes a hazard because your cat could attack and the claws can do extra damage. However, if you employ the strategies I have mentioned by creating a more stimulating indoor environment and work hard at it, they should work as alternatives to declawing. Furthermore, by giving her things that are appropriate to use her claws on, she will be able to express this behaviour without directing it towards you or objects that are inappropriate to scratch. I would also work with your veterinarian to try and figure out a way to keep her nails short. Cut them often so that they can’t do damage. I can understand that given her nature, she is unlikely to be cooperative for a nail trimming, but your veterinarian can give you tips for this and possibly even mild sedatives to help you perform it at home. Please take a look at our video tutorial on how to safely trim a cat’s nails for more in-depth explanation on nail trimming.
If you employ these strategies and put a good amount of effort in, I would be quite optimistic that you will create a harmonious life with your cat.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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