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We have two cats that we would love to take to a summer house with us for weekends during at least half of the year. The idea is that we'll be heading there on Friday and returning on either Sunday night or Monday morning. Both cats are very close to us and one of them would really miss us if we left him for two nights.

The house is not fully fenced and in my experience taking my more curious cat around, there's no fence that would stop him. The land around the house is around 600 m2 (6500 ft2) of grass and trees for them to play, and even though there's no fence there are plants that mark its limits.

Coming from the city that is a lot of land for them, however, last weekend, we took the more curious one over there (he's also the more adaptable) and he was already trespassing to neighbour's houses.

What can we do to keep them in our property? How can we teach them not to go far from us?

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If someone told me they'd trained their cat not to roam when outside unrestrained, I'd have one thing to say to them: "I'll believe it when I see it". It's very unlikely to train a cat not to roam, hunt, and hide.

It might be possible, with a cat of a very specific temperament. The kind of temperament that makes it want to sun itself on the warm patio for hours instead of exploring, or the kind of temperament that makes it skittish and scared of butterflies and quiet noises.

In other words: you can train a cat not to roam outside... if the cat already doesn't want to roam outside.

If you've got a cat that does like to explore, I doubt very much that you could prevent it from doing so through training. Cats are just too strong-willed and independent and they don't really need our approval or care what we think, unlike most dogs. Cats will always opt for what seems to them to be the better deal. If the deal is "be cooped up and bored inside" vs. "go exploring while the human is calling for me to come back", an adventurous cat will choose the latter. A lazy cat will choose the former simply because it doesn't feel like exploring - not because it wants to follow instructions.

If you really want to take your cats outside, but you fear (or you know) that they'll want to roam, your best bet is a leash. Many cats hate them, but some will get used to them over time. That's the only way to keep your cat where you want it in the yard - even a fence won't stop many cats.

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There are fences that will contain a cat, but they have to be specifically designed or modified for that purpose, which can take a significant amount of time and/or money. You would also need to remove any trees (or at least branches) that would allow them to get over the fence.

More practical is a "catio", which is a smaller but fully enclosed (with cat-proof screen material) that lets them experience the sights, sounds, smells and feeling of being outdoors without the risks of actually letting them roam or expense a cat-proof fence around the entire property. You can also use it as a screened patio for humans too, of course.

The cheapest option is to teach your cats to walk on a leash, and simply don't let them go places you don't want them to. It's not easy to get started, but within the first month my kittens understood I wouldn't let them go past certain points. They still occasionally try, of course, but they no longer seem surprised or complain when it doesn't work.

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