Weather, Predators and Other Worries: How to Turn Your Outdoor Cat Into an Indoor Cat

Have a cat who can't give up the great outdoors? Protect your pet and train your cat to stay indoors (even if only for the night).

How can I train an indoor/outdoor cat to stay inside all night?

Most cats don’t like being told what they can or cannot do, so you should expect some push-back when you reveal the big plan to revoke your cat’s night-crawling privileges. But it’s for her own good, remember that.

It sounds like your cat will be allowed out during the day, so she might not object too much to indoor evenings. You can cut her off all at once or try a more gradual approach, bringing your cat inside earlier and earlier until she eventually makes a complete transition.
•    Assess your indoor space for its feline-friendliness and modify as needed. Does she have a soft place to relax and a quiet place to hide? Does she have a cat tree for climbing (and scratching) or a series of cool cat shelves (one at window height) for observing your home (and you) on multiple levels? Does she have a plot of cat grass to nibble on? Does she have toy mice to swat around and other toys (like wands) that you can play with together?

•    Show her all her indoor stuff. If she’s been eating outside, start feeding her inside only. If she’s been handling most of her “output” outside, show her where to find her litterbox.

If (when) your cat cries/scratches at the door:
•    Ignore her and hope she gives up (she probably won’t, at first).
•    Move her away from the door and put her on her window ledge/cat tree/ your bed. When she stops crying, engage her with some playtime or cuddling.
•    Discourage her return trips to the door for more scratching/meowing by annoying your cat — jangle keys, spray a little compressed air her way. When you exit the house at night, leaving her behind, discourage your cat’s escape attempts with the same key-jangling strategy or by tossing a treat or toy for her to chase away from the door.
•    Be patient. Breaking habits is hard, but your cat should soon adjust to her new routine if you don’t give in to her unreasonable demands.

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