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How to Train an Outdoor Cat to Become an Indoor Cat

While it might be tempting to let your cat outside, doing so poses a number of safety risks. Unsupervised outdoor cats are susceptible to car accidents, encounters with wildlife, and other dangers that could otherwise be avoided.

Depending on your circumstances, it’s not always easy to train an outdoor cat to be indoor-only. Maybe you adopted a stray, or a cat who was indoor-outdoor in their previous home. We’re here to help with some tips on training an outdoor cat to become an indoor cat.

two cats sitting on the ground

Discourage Door-Dashing

For a cat who is used to spending time outdoors, it can be confusing to learn that an open door is no longer an invitation to head outside. Below are a few simple methods you can try to prevent your cat from slipping out the door any chance they get.

Deter Your Cat from the Door: Putting some aluminum foil in front of your cat’s preferred door can deter them from hanging around there as cats don’t like how it feels on their paws. You can also try spraying a cat-safe citrus spray around the door a few times a day to deter them.

Train with Food: When you’re about to leave, try bringing your cat into a different room and giving them their favorite treat. You can also toss a treat across the room when you exit and enter, training them to run the other way when a door opens up. A feeding schedule where you feed your cat when you leave for work and when you get back can also encourage them to stick inside during these times.

Make Indoor Life Enriching

Making indoor life as enriching and enjoyable as possible for your cat is essential when training them to stay inside. We’ve detailed a few steps you can take to make your home a cat-friendly space.

Cover the Essentials: Before bringing a new cat home, make sure their basic needs are covered with a litter box, a cozy bed, scratching posts, food, and plenty of water. Ensuring that your cat has everything they need inside will help them assimilate into an indoor-only lifestyle.

Variety of Toys: Cats love to hunt! Denying them this opportunity will surely encourage them to head outdoors instead. That’s why toys are vital for keeping your cat entertained. Make sure you try out a variety of toys for your cat to find the ones they love. Spending 15 minutes in the morning and evening with your cat can help establish a play routine that they can look forward to. Getting out their energy in a healthy way is essential when training an outdoor cat to stay inside.

cat entering home through an endura flap pet door for walls

Build a Catio

For cats who just can’t bear to stay inside all day, there are other options for providing exercise and fresh air such as training them to walk on a leash or building a catio.

Build a Catio: A catio or screened-in porch is the perfect middle ground. This allows them to get some fresh air and sunshine without the risk of unsupervised outdoor adventures. The Endura Flap Pet Door is a great option for a pet door that leads into the catio or screened porch. The Horizontal Window Cat Door and Thermo Sash 3e Cat Door are two popular choices for cat owners.

Read about Reasons the Endura Flap is Great for Cats here.

Leash Train Your Cat: Leash training is a great way to get your cat outside without all the risks. It’s best to start when they’re kittens, but older cats can be taught as well. The key is to go slow, spending time introducing your cat to the harness and the sensation of the leash being attached. Once your cat can comfortably walk on the leash inside the home, you can start taking them on short outdoor excursions and work up gradually.

Transitioning an outdoor cat inside takes some time and patience, but it is worth it in the long run for keeping your pet (and wildlife) safe! If you decide to build a catio or leash train your cat, check out these treatments for seasonal allergies in pets.

Elizabeth Muenzen

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DOG PERSON🐶

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
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Content Specialist
DOG PERSON🐶

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
Fun stuff: I love to cook!

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