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I have two indoor cats that have an abundance of energy and some behavior problems. I have read that allowing the cats outside occasionally can help with this behavior. Additionally, both cats constantly try to run out the front door when I come home.

I don't want to allow the cat to become an indoor/outdoor cat, but would supervised outside time be acceptable? I live in a 1st floor apartment and there is a small outdoor area that I could let the cats out into and watch them so they don't run away.

Is this a good approach or will it cause more issues with the cats trying to escape?

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Supervised outdoor time is fine, provided that you take adequate precautions to ensure that the cat stays supervised.

We've let our cats out onto enclosed balconies, and an enclosed screened-in porch, and they clearly enjoyed it (well, 2 of the 3). A cat harness, such as John Cavan suggests, is also a good solution, although some cats will not handle any sort of leash or harness well at all.

Some people even go so far as to build elaborate outdoor cat enclosures:

An outdoor cat enclosure

(Here are more images)

My mother built one for her two cats, and they definitely seem to enjoy it (hers is nowhere near as elaborate as the one pictured above).

The important thing is to ensure that your pets are safe while outside. Cars, other animals (not just dogs, but also other cats, and various other mammals depending upon where you live), or even your neighbors can all pose serious risks to a cat.

  • Good point with the dangers of city/suburban life to a cat. A cat enclosure seems a bit excessive, but not complicated and could be a possibility. – Dennis Graves Oct 16 '13 at 22:14
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    Also noteworthy to mention that you should be mindful of potential pests, like ticks and fleas. – David Starkey Nov 26 '18 at 17:56
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One of our cats loves going outside, but we've seen too many animals killed by traffic to let him do it freely. So, our solution to this was to get a cat harness and a long yard chain designed for small dogs. This lets him explore, eat some grass, hunt some bugs, and the like while being restricted from roaming totally free. He likes it so much that he purrs extremely loud when we put the harness on him.

Recent vote reminded me, here's a picture of him doing the aforementioned grass munching in a harness:

enter image description here

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An enclosure is really the only option if you want to let them out without a harness and leash. You can't just let a cat out and watch them not to run away. They will run away faster than you realize, if there's any chance at all. After the fact all you can do is wait and hope they'll come back later.

An adult indoor cat is probably scared of the outside world at first. It may look like all the cat does is to sit and watch its surroundings, and eventually s/he will come happily back inside. That won't last long though. And when that cat finally feels like wandering it goes wandering; and that is dangerous for an unexperienced indoor cat. Plus, how can you know if they know their way back home, like an indoor cat it is. They are just different from cats who have been going out all their life.

Okay, not all cats are the same. One of my previous cats was almost a dog. She followed me to walks around the neighbourhood without a leash, she would play fetch with me not only at home but in a park too, and when she was out on her own she always came running to me when I whistled in certain way. That cat was also the last one I've let go out free. At the time (late '80s) I did not know a cat can live a happy life being a 100% indoor cat.

Another funny cat lived above me in 1st floor apartment (I was living in ground floor). They had a long rope tied to a basket, and every day they lowered their cat down in the basket and the cat went on its way. Later the cat would jump in the basket and sit still while the owner pulled it up. I always wondered how did they train the cat to do that. Cats are just amazing animals.

Check the Amazon link below for an example of a flexi leash.

http://www.amazon.com/Flexi-Retractable-10-Feet-Supports-18-Pound/dp/B0018CG3VE/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1389372179&sr=1-1

Do not purchase a flexi leash online, instead go to a pet accessories store and inspect the leashes yourself. Choose one that has the lightest draw-back tension and the most lightweight lock (that metal thing locking leash to the cat harness). Getting a cat used to wearing a harness is worth another question here in Pets.

Personally, I'd go for an outdoors enclosure if I had the place for one. Then the cat can choose when to go out and when to stay in.

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