Cat Escape Artists (or Not)

Cats might try to make a break for the great outdoors, but your concerted efforts to keep them inside could influence their decisions.

I had been in and out the kitchen’s side door a number of times that morning, cleaning litterboxes. The last time I came inside, I did not shut the door firmly enough, because when I walked into the kitchen again, I saw the door was slightly ajar … and Sparkle’s tail was disappearing through the crack. I rushed over to the doorway and looked by the side of the house and all three cats were wandering around outside. Boodie had made it as far as the trashcans, which she was examining with interest.

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“Hey, you guys! Get your butts back in here!” I told them, firmly. And what do you know? They actually obeyed me.

Although I always tell my friends that my cats aren’t allowed outside, even on a harness and lead, because they are “skittish,” it’s really not true. Each time one of them has gotten outside, she has been easy to get back in. Maybe it’s because I’m not skittish when they get out. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about cats – the more nervous you are, the more nervous they will be. The only time I panicked when one of my three got outside was right after I’d moved into our current house, and Binga stormed out late one night. I was screaming at her like an idiot and disturbing my new neighbors while she dashed around, taking particular delight in evading me. I was only able to grab her after I’d already woken up the woman next door. I’m sure she still thinks I’m a little strange.

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A lot of people, especially those outside of the United States, think it’s perfectly fine to let their cats roam free, and in fact, Harlot, my cat before Sparkle was an indoor/outdoor cat, mainly because she refused to have it any other way. But for the 15-and-a-half years I had her in my life, there wasn’t a day where I didn’t worry about her. Especially because here in the hillsides of Los Angeles, there are lots of coyotes wandering around – never mind the reckless drivers and other hazards, such as pesticide-laden gardens and deadly anti-freeze leaking from cars.

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So I am happy none of our present feline family has been drawn to the outside. Binga, being contrary, has escaped a few times, just for the negative attention. And negative it is – if she gets out when my fiancé is around, he turns on the hose and that sends her dashing back inside. Aside from the kitchen debacle, Sparkle has gotten out a couple of times. Once, when I was in the enclosed patio, she came right out and started rubbing against the open door to the outside like it was no big deal. And, like it was no big deal, I picked her up and took her back into the living room, this time shutting the door firmly. The other time, I didn’t even know about until later. My fiancé went out the front to take photos of something he was selling on eBay and he left the door just the slightest bit ajar. Unbeknownst to him, Sparkle opened up the door with her grabby, Somali cat paws and slipped outside. When he went back in, he shut the door – and she panicked. She screamed to be let in, which he did immediately. As far as I know, Boodie’s only outside excursion was the one time when she got to check out the trash.

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Would these guys go outside if given the chance? Sure! Do they ever actively want to go out? Only when my fiancé or I are outside. They hate not being part of the action. I think they are more scared of being outside than they are curious about it. Honestly, my cats are terrible escape artists … and I like it that way.

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