Chris enjoyed a year of patio privileges while we were in Myrtle Beach but after moving back to Dunedin, that was no longer an option. Our condo did not have an enclosed patio so he was stuck inside.
Tigger and Abbey didn’t mind but Chris would often cry to be let out or he would try to race out the door when someone opened it. If he got out the front door (technically, the parking lot was the back of the building, but I consider the main door the front) he would just plop down to the ground and stretch. For Chris, it was not about exploring, it was more about celebrating the victory. Anyway, since we were on the second floor, there was not much for him to explore.
After awhile I started to let him out and I would stand there and watch him roll around. Sometimes he would investigate the area around the front door but he would stay within a few feet. Eventually he started venturing farther and farther away until he was at the stairs.
Once he reached the stairs he was amazingly cautious for a cat that showed no fear inside the house. When he started to get up enough courage to go down the stairs, that is when I stopped letting him out. My biggest fear was that he would get up on the roof of the carport, which was alongside the staircase, and then I would have to get up there and chase him down.
That is almost what happened one day when he unexpectedly bolted out the door as I was leaving. He ran to the stairs and took a few steps down, hesitated for a moment, then stepped through the slats and onto the carport roof. I got there just in time to reach over the railing and grab him. We were much more diligent about guarding the door after that.
Our other door was a slider that led out to the patio. It was not screened like our last patio so we could not let Chris out there. This, of course, did not stop him from running out the door anyway. At first he would just roll around like he did at the front door, but then he discovered he could get through the slats to the neighbor’s patio. Before long, every time he would get out he would immediately cross over to the neighbor’s side and then roll around just out of reach. I would then have to go down my stairs and walk across to the neighbor’s side to retrieve Chris. He would then sometimes run back over to our side as if it was a game.
Keep in mind that Chris is a very smart cat and would hang back, away from the door, and pretend he was not interested. He would then race out the door as soon as it was opened. He once ran across to the neighbors patio and discovered her door was cracked open. To Chris, this was an invitation to go inside, so he did.
I knew Chris had an outside cat in him and I didn’t want to suppress that so I bought a harness and leash for him so I could take him out without worrying about the trouble he could get into. This was difficult because he would not let me put the harness on him. When I finally did get it on him, the first thing he did when we got outside was lay down and kick at it with his back feet until he was able to slip out of part of it. I brought him back in and tried several times over the next few weeks.
Sometimes he would not try to get it off. He would slowly make his way down the stairs, smelling everything along the way. Each time he would go a little further until he was on the ground. I don’t know if it was because of the leash but he was not as adventurous as I thought he would be.
Other times Chris would try to get the harness off and would almost always succeed. I don’t know if I should credit Chris’s intelligence for that or my stupidity but, in either case, the harness idea didn’t work out as I hoped.
Sometimes, during the cooler months, we could leave the front door open so Chris could look out the screen, but most of the time Chris just had to enjoy the outdoors like the other cats by looking out one of the upstairs’ bedroom windows.
Believe it or not, Chris is able to cause problems by just looking out the window. Stay tuned for that story.