Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My name is Shadow, and I’m a 1-year-old male cat. My parents recently moved to an apartment in a new neighborhood. When we were at the old house, I was allowed to go outside, but the new apartment is in an area where it’s not safe for kitties, so I have to stay inside now.
I’ve been meowing at the windows a lot and it’s making my parents very upset. Their apartment gets really warm, but they’re afraid to leave the windows open to cool it off. We live on the second floor and the landlord doesn’t have screens in the windows, so they’re worried that if the windows are open, I may jump out and hurt myself. I used to sleep in their bedroom, but now I cry at their window and keep them awake so I can’t go in there at night.
What can my parents do to help me calm down and stop meowing at the windows? I’d like to sleep in their bedroom again, but I can’t until I settle down. Would getting me neutered help at all? And even if I do eventually stop meowing at the windows, will they ever be able to trust leaving them open — or will they have to try either getting the landlord to get screens or buying them themselves? I know Mommy and Daddy don’t have a lot of money to spend on my problem, but they love me very much and just want to have a calm and happy kitty again.
Siouxsie: There are a lot of cats in your situation, Shadow. Even we had an indoor-outdoor life for a few years. Thankfully, it didn’t bother us when we moved to a new home where we had to stay inside. But we think we can help you.
Thomas: First of all, your people really must have you neutered. A lot of the reason why you cry at the windows is because you’re smelling female cats in heat and you want to go make kittens. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were to jump out the window — even through a screen — in search of a ladycat looking for a lover!
Siouxsie: Of course, neutering will also eliminate spraying and greatly reduce the risk of fighting with other male cats if you do get outside.
Thomas: If money is an issue, there are low-cost spay/neuter clinics just about everywhere in the U.S. The ASPCA and neuterspay.org provide searchable databases of organizations that provide low-cost spay/neuter services.
Siouxsie: These lists may not be up to date, so we’d recommend that you call your local animal services or animal shelter to double-check what options are available in your area.
Thomas: It’ll take about three weeks for all the testosterone to leave your system after you’ve been neutered, so your crying and meowing behavior might continue for a while after the surgery.
Siouxsie: Mama’s shocked that your landlord hasn’t put screens in your windows. She says you should ask your landlord if he or she would be willing to do that. If not, it’s fairly easy to get screens that you can use in double-hung windows and secure by lowering the window until it hits the top of the screen. Some of those screens even have fans in them, which can help with air circulation. You should be able to find them at home supply stores or maybe large warehouse stores as well.
Thomas: Your people can help you adapt to life indoors by making sure you have plenty of fun things to do. Scratching posts and scratching pads are crucial, so that you don’t start destroying furniture if you’re bored.
Siouxsie: They can make sure you have plenty of vertical territory as well as horizontal territory. If one of your humans is handy, they could even build little shelf-stairs on the walls so you could climb up really high. Tall cat trees and cat condos are great, too, but they can be quite expensive. However, there are some great DIY cat tree instructions available on the web, including this how-to from dadand.com.
Thomas: They should play with you a lot, especially with fun interactive toys like Da Bird (one of our favorites) or a home-made “cat fishing pole” — a few rags attached to a dowel or a small but sturdy tree twig by about four feet of heavy twine.
Siouxsie: Here’s a special secret for your people: if they play with you for about 10 minutes and then feed you your evening meal, you’ll probably go to sleep pretty soon after that. It’s a natural cat activity cycle: Hunt, eat, sleep. So if they do that just before they’re ready to go to bed, you might have a quiet night together.
Thomas: PAWS has some other good tips on transitioning cats to an indoor lifestyle. Check them out here.
Siouxsie: We’re willing to bet good catnip that neutering will go a very long way toward helping you become a happy indoor kitty.
Thomas: And if your humans help you by enriching your indoor environment, then before you know it you’ll be wondering why you ever pined for the outdoors!
I also recommend a kitty treat ball- having to hunt a food will be enriching for Shadow!
Most kitties want to go out because hormones and instinct tell them to. Hormones tell them to get on makin’ those babies, and instinct tells them to get out there and do all the interesting things life has to offer. If there are interesting things inside and Shadow is neutered, he’ll have no reason to want to go outside!
We just got a dry food dispenser for treats which has 9 columns into which the food goes, so it takes attetion and good paw work to get the food out.
Also. lives for years in apts. Hardware stores sell screens that yes, you can close the window on the top of, but betteryet, you can use hooks and eyes to afix to the window jam, so the cat cannot get them loose.
Felaway and Dr. Victor Tso’s “Calming Formula” work wonders . Our vet said to try the many herbals out there, but these two were the best. Also “Composure”.
An ever=changing set of boxes can be fun, too. Humans who just moved should have a good
supply of those, even if they have gotten to hate the sight of boxes, under these circumstances
they may be willing to buld some ‘forts’ for you for the time being.
Also, just got a kitty ‘holster’ but we have not used it yet. It is a vest with two velco fasterners,
and the leash goes on top, on the shoulder area, so if your h umans and you want to try ocastional walks or car rides, this might be just the thing.
Ordered ti thru ‘Humane Domain” on line.
I’d imagine the landlord has to supply you with window screens. Ask nicely for them and if he says no do an internet search for laws about that in your state.
We have window perches for our kitties and they love nothing better than being able to sleep in the sunbeams watching the birds.
get your guy neutered, it will help a lot. Cats are very nosy and want to know what is going on all the time. I have two cats and both are fixed, they look out the window and like to watch the birds and one of my cats likes to hiss at the neighbors when they come home. Lots of playtime and high energy excerise also. But the main thing is neutering.
Baby gates can work as window screens if they fit. They aren’t as pretty but they are so sturdy that nothing can get through them. They do let bugs in the room so there is a little bonus – prey to hunt.
Baby gates– good idea, Memory!
Hi I’m visiting for the first time from your FB page. This is a really great post with lots of good information.
My mom person & I would love if we could share it on Pet Blogs United as a guest post with all credits going to you & linking back to your site.
If you’re interested you can e-mail us at PBU at comcast dot net.
Definitely neutering. No question there. Then, you can work to create a stimulating indoors environment for the cat, including climbing places, cat furniture, cat toys and interactive playing times.
Thank you for your advice! My humans just got me neutered about a week ago. I’ve had longer periods of being calm during the day, but I’m still meowing at the windows at night. I’m glad to hear it is pretty normal to have this behavior continue a few weeks, so I know I’m not alone. We’re going to try playing and eating right before bed tonight, and see if it makes me calm enough that I can sleep with Mommy and Daddy again. I’ll be sure to come back occasionally to let other kitties and their humans know how this advice helped, and any tips we might find. Thank you again.
Cupcake kept wanting to go outside, even though she’d never really been an “outdoor” cat. Sometimes I would let her out and she’d go nibble on the grass, which was upsetting to me. My neighbor Barb said it was because she wanted healthier food and wasn’t getting what she needed in the cat food I was feeding her. On Barb’s recommend I bought her some Natural Balance Alpha from the pet store, which doesn’t have grains or by-products, and she doesn’t try to get out so much anymore, because now she’s getting everything she needs inside and doesn’t need to go on the hunt for fruits and veggies because they are in her food.
I found letting my formerly indoor/outdoor rescue out in to the attached garage helped a lot too. He mostly wanted new turf to survey and be master of his domain. (he was neutered) I do know not every apartment will have an attached space that is mostly off limits but can occasionally be opened to the cat.
In addition to neutering, I suggest getting a harness and leash. You can then be taken outside to walk around the block or a local park. My cat was a street cat before she was rescued. She constantly wants to go out, so I tried the harness/leash and it works great. She gives a little fight getting it on, but as soon as it’s on, she has no issue with it. She wants to be outside that badly that she’s willing to make that compromise.
I took in Louie, a farm cat, as his owner had 7 cats from people dumping them at her farm and she had to move to an apt. and could only take 2 with her. Now you would have to fight me to get him away from me. He is an absolute love. However Louies favorite thing used to be to hunt squintys and bring them home to his mom. Now he sits on my 2nd floor deck, heavily made in to a fortress so he can’t jump over. But watching him watch the natural world and all it’s fun things waiting for him to explore breaks my heart. he was a sleek hunting machine when I got him. Now he has a “beer gut”. The only alternative was to turn him over to a shelter. My only consolation is he has a good life and probably a longer life (someone shot his brother on the farm) and is very loved and quite a cuddler. I got an automated laser toy for exercise for him. Totally oblivious to it!
I glanced over my cat using a leash. flied very difficult to catch up. fled and fear that stray cat.