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Help! My cat’s an escape artist

 by lucy on 18 Nov 2016 |
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Safety from predators, oncoming traffic and disease are just a few of the well-documented benefits of keeping cats indoors. Unfortunately, our feline friends don’t always see their indoor lifestyles as the luxury it is. If your cat makes a mad dash every time you open the front door, he’s at risk of being hit by a car, attacked by another animal or getting lost— making door-darting behaviour a problem that should be addressed.
 
Many cat owners consider keeping their companions inside to be a restrictive lifestyle, but cats can have a stimulating life without venturing outdoors. Equip your feline friend with plenty of climbing spaces, hiding places, perches and even a bird feeder outside the window to keep him entertained. Engage him in several minutes of play each day with a laser toy or kitty “fishing pole” to help satisfy his hunting instincts. You may even want to consider giving your cat a companion, such as another cat or a dog, to provide an extra outlet for play, exercise and affection while you’re away from home.
 
Even after creating an indoor oasis, however, some owners have trouble with cats that make a mad dash every time they open the door. If your cat comes running, there are several techniques to try to remedy his bad habit. For starters, stop giving Kitty any attention at the door. While you may be tempted to lean down and greet him as soon as you get home, this gives your pet an easy opportunity to slide outside. Instead, set up an official “greeting area” further inside the room. You can accomplish this by calling your cat to the assigned post and rewarding him with a treat immediately until he forms an association with the spot.
 
If Kitty continues dashing for the door, however, you will need to take more serious measures. Try offering him a treat or toy just before leaving, which should distract him from the open entryway. Some cat owners attach a rolled newspaper to the door and bang it loudly whenever Kitty comes running to help scare him off. Others leave a squirt bottle of water just outside the door and peak in before entering, giving the cat a quick spritz if he is waiting right at the entrance. If you try this technique, be sure to shut the door immediately, though, as you don’t want your cat associating you with the squirt bottle. Remember, cats in heat and tomcats who catch a whiff of a fertile female are more likely to try to escape, so spaying or neutering your cat can also help when it comes to solving cats’ escape artist behaviour.

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