When we moved to our current home and Chris was able to go out on the patio again, we thought he would be happy. Unfortunately, it is like that old saying, “Give someone an inch and they will take a mile.” Chris was not happy with his inch. Being partly exposed to the outside just made him want it even more.
Every time one of us came home or left while the cat door was open, we had to figure out how to get through the door without Chris getting out. I use the past tense but it is still true today. Sometimes I would just let him out because it was easier than fighting with him. At first, just like at our last place, Chris would just roll around on the sidewalk, but soon he started making a beeline for the front yard.
He did not go far. He just ran around the front yard, investigating every movement. For awhile we thought it was a little cute. We would let him out after listening to him cry for a while, then I would try to catch him after four or five minutes. Of course, this wasn’t easy. He would usually wait until I got close and then bolt away. I would then have to walk across the yard to get him and he would run back. I think this game of “Catch me if you can” was fun for Chris but I got little enjoyment from it.It wasn’t long, however, before he discovered that the outside world had an ample supply of lizards. The first thing he did when he got outside was look for lizards. Sometimes he would catch one as soon as he got out. If he didn’t find one right away, the lizards would hide. It was funny watching him sometimes because he would be searching through the bushes while several lizards hung very still on trees opposite of Chris’s field of vision.
When he did catch one, I would have to get it out of his mouth before he killed it. This usually resulted in some resistance along with some growling. We soon decided that, for the sake of the lizard population, we would try to resist giving in to his begging to go outside.
Chris is a very smart cat and can easily adapt, so when we stopped letting him out, he changed his strategy. He started laying under the cat perch, especially when he knew someone was leaving. It is the perfect spot because we can’t pick him up from there and we also can’t hold him down without blocking the door from opening.
As usual, we change our strategy, Chris changes his, we change ours to counter and it goes on and on. It is like playing chess with a cat. When he started hiding under the perch, I started opening the door slightly to lure him out. When he went for the opening I would quickly shut the door and grab him.
Chris countered by waiting under the perch. He is too smart to let himself be fooled more than once or twice so he held his ground until he had a clear shot out the door.
My next move was to give the cats treats when someone had to come in or go out. All the cats would come running for treats which was my chance to close the cat door. This actually worked for a while. I think the lure of treats was too great, even for Chris. Eventually though, he stopped falling for it.
Even when it did work, it was not foolproof because he would sometime sneak out the main door when we tried to leave and park himself under the perch. If I wasn’t in a hurry, I would just let him out because catching him outside was easier than getting him out from his little fortress.
Chris soon stopped looking for lizards and started eating grass. I know it is natural for cats to eat grass so I would give him a few minutes before bringing him in.
Even today Chris is still getting outside. On Halloween I was very carefull to open the door just a crack to give candy out but that was all it took. Aren’t cats supposed to be afraid of strangers wearing masks?