Newt’s journey: Letting your cat outside

For the past six months or so, Newt has been attempting to scoot out the door that goes into the garage and leads to the backyard. We’ve had to catch her on many occasions in the garage. Not good. Not safe. For one thing, there’s a hole in the wall (of course.) that leads to the space underneath the house, which you might recall has a mystery rodent, possibly armadillos, and a host of lizards and insects. The other thing is that, while we try to be diligent about closing the door to the yard, sometimes it pops open, and her getting out would be bad, bad, bad. Feral cats, all the aforementioned wildlife, loose dogs, lots of traffic, and so on. (The garage itself isn’t an issue because it doesn’t work. Of course.)

So, I posed the question on Twitter: Is letting your cat outside on leash a good idea? Or does it inspire increased escape attempts? The resounding response was, “Leash her up!”

And, so we did. :)

Newt’s journey from Maggie Marton on Vimeo.

Since I filmed that initial sojourn, we’ve taken her out two more times. We quickly realized that crossing from the garage into the yard is her big challenge, so John carriers her past that threshold. The second time she found a good spot in the sun and reclined for a bit, but the washer and dryer were running (in the garage) and the sound spooked her, and she fled inside. The third time outside she wanted to creep around and explore. She made it to the patio area (like, 10 feet), saw the grill, panicked, and ran back inside.

We’ll keep trying with short trips and lots of cheese. If she doesn’t seem to relax after a few repeats, we may call it off… unless she re-ups her escape attempts! Then I don’t know what we’ll do!

But, if you’re thinking about letting your cat outside, I’d definitely recommend a leash/harness combo like we got (I think it was $9 at Petco), just to keep her safe. Start slow, give lots of praise and rewards, and gauge her interest. We’re going to also work on getting her more comfortable with the harness indoors, so hopefully that’ll help too!

I’ll let you know if we have any breakthroughs!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


    • Maggie says

      I’ll let you know how it goes! We have taken her out for a fourth journey, and she did MUCH better. It was a quieter time of day, which helped, and John started by carrying her through the scary garage. I’ll share updates and pics as we progress!

  1. says

    There are outdoor cat pens available at pet supply stores. They look like a tubular apparatus, sort of like you would use with a gerbil or hamster but much larger so a cat can be in there and still be outdoors. You might want to look into that as an alternative to the leash. She should still be supervised in there, but it might be the type of thing where you can sit and read a book while she enjoys the outdoors :)

    • Maggie says

      I think that’s a great idea, Kathy! I think that’s something I’ll look into when we get our housing situation settled. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  2. says

    Oh, you guys are so great! We really should do this with Samantha who is always trying to escape. It took me forever to convince my sister to keep her cat indoors when she moved. She is trying now, and she has also used the harness with some success I believe (I’m sure she hasn’t taken her out in this ridiculous cold and snowy winter we’ve had), I’ll have to check in with her again on that.
    We do at least have a screened in porch now which Samantha loves…she can at least feel a little bit like she’s outside. I like Kathy’s idea too…I’ve seen those types of things and it seems like they could also work.

    • Maggie says

      The one thing that helped us on our most recent trip out with Newt… we switched from the leash that came with the harness (it’s small – maybe 4 feet?) to a really thin long line we used with the dogs. She had WAY more room to roam, and I think that helped her feel better. Let me know if you and Samantha decide to give it a whirl! Would love to hear your experiences!!

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