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Life in a Cat house

Stan Johnson - Life in a Cat House

Our old Ozrow cat spends most of the daylight hours outside in the summer, mainly lounging on the deck. We thought our Amelia Jane kitten would soon follow him, but that may take some time.
From almost the first few minutes she was with us, Amelia Jane went exploring. She wanted to know all the secret places throughout the house. She is an adventuresome kitten, at times too much so, we think. We planned on her growing a bit before we let her leave the house. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried.
About three weeks ago we decided it was time for Amelia Jane to expand her kitty world, so my wife, Vivian, carried the kitten outside and put her down on the deck. Amelia Jane did not like that at all. It may have the presence of our dog, Homerbucky, flopped on the deck a few feet away, although the dog ignored the kitten. Maybe she didn’t like the hot summer temperature. Whatever it was, after about 20 seconds she was ready to get back in the house.
We didn’t want to force her to go outside, so we let her romp around indoors until she felt she was ready for the bigger world. That happened last Monday morning. When Vivian opened the door to let Ozrow go out, Amelia Jane went to the door right behind him. She stood in the doorway for a minute or so, then slowly crept out. Vivian went with her because we didn’t want the kitten to be unsupervised. After perhaps 30 seconds, she was ready to get back to the security of the house.
She went out twice more that day, with her longest stay about two minutes before she started to stand at the door and whine to get back inside. That evening, when I went out the other door to feed the dog, she went about two-thirds of the way out before she changed her mind.
We think Amelia Jane will eventually want to spend time outside, but it appears it will take some time for her to become comfortable with it. We don’t want a strictly house cat when there is so much space and things for a kitty to do on the other side of the door.
Most of our cats have liked going out, although we’ve had a couple that spent most of their time inside.
Ophelia was an old cat when she came to our house and she had been a town cat kept inside. She would make an occasional trip outside but much preferred the indoors. Skittles went out most days but almost never left the deck.
One of the reasons we choose to live in the country is so the cats can roam around without fear of getting run over by cars. We think it’s healthy for them to get fresh air. Besides, when they spend a lot of time outside it cuts down on litter box cleaning.
We are not going to throw Amelia Jane out and make her stay there against her will. We want her to learn to enjoy being outside on her own terms and own schedule. We hope that within the next few weeks she will build up enough courage to go out more often and stay longer.
If she doesn’t, we’re stuck with a full-time house cat.