Convincing kitty to be an indoor cat.

Oh wise fellow dopers, I am in need of advice. Mrs. Gap and I are the adopted care takers of a very nice cat. I say adopted because she came to us. She was evidently a “barn cat” born near our house and judging by her clipped ear she was picked up, neutered and returned to the area. She came to us about a year ago and sold herself to us. Used car salesmen should be so good. Thing is, we have to move and the house we’ve signed for is no pets. We’ve decided that rather than abandon her in situ, even though she’s an excellent hunter and knows her home area, that we’d try to make her Mrs. Gaps office cat. This would entail her being an indoor cat and learning to use a litter box. We would only do this until our 1 year lease was up, then move to somewhere pet friendly. We plan on hanging around the office a few nights a week, watch Netflix or something and eat, just to give her some lap time and love. We’d also do this one weekend night.
I need your advice on the best approach to this. I’m used to cats, having had them in my younger years, but they were always born and bred as pets. This one’s not crazy independent, but she really only wants to hang with us, which is why we aren’t looking for some one to take her.
What would you cat familiar dopers do?

I thought the ‘clipped ear’ meant she was fixed, but I’ve never heard of them ever being released voluntarily.
I was told that its done because some ferrals are virtual escape artists… and because if they get out & away, the average pet owner may never get lucky enough to ever catch them again.

Maybe I was told wrong?

I’m assuming “no pets” means, no pets in the house. I can’t imagine anyone having a problem keeping the cat outside. Maybe fix him up a bed in the garage.
My experience is, once an outside cat, always an outside cat. They do not do well indoors. Sure as fuck wouldn’t be happy stuck in an office.


Spay and release.

This may be the time to ask your neighbors if they will keep caring for her until you can move to a pet-friendly place.
Kitty won’t be happy living in an office and won’t understand that it’s temporary, won’t even understand what’s going on the first day when you leave it there. Kitty doesn’t know you’re coming back and there could be a very messy freak out at your wife’s workplace.
Your heart is in the right place, but unless you’re willing to convert this outdoor cat to an indoor cat at a place you’re not supposed to have pets I don’t think it’ll work out. Can you talk to your landlord about amending the lease for a pet?

Why don’t you share a little more about how much time she spends indoors now? It sounds like she spends a lot of time with you indoors already, if I’m interpreting the sitting on laps while watching TV and other comments correctly.

This may be possible. Every cat is different. My mother has had (in the last 5 years) 2 different cats that started feral and essentially just moved into her house. One very occasionally gets out and comes right back and one won’t go out if you open all the doors and try and chase her out. Outside is scary, in Belle’s opinion. She’s not really interested in people other than my mom (and me, because I feed her occasionally), but she’s definitely a house cat.

If your cat is very people oriented, at least to you, it might be possible. Start the process as soon as possible. Here is an article from the SPCA on helping your cat transition.


I think you are right to recognize that your cat might not find another caregiver. It’s worth trying this route. I don’t think you are cruel to consider it. It’s better than having your cat potentially uncared for.

There is a huge difference between “indoor cat” and “cat locked in a scary place, alone, for 15 hours a day” - including ALL NIGHT esp ALL NIGHT - cats are nocturnal.
Plus weekends and holidays and vacations.
Why are you moving? That alone is scary to a cat.
Why to a “no cats” place?
Can the “no cat” rule be changed?
Have you no other place to put kitty until you can take her home again?

If nothing else, look into foster homes for cats - these are people (often found at “no kill” shelters) who take in displaced cats until they can find a permanent home.
Pay for the food bill for the house and kitty will be welcome for a year.

I was feeding a feral cat for many years, she was friendly but not very affectionate. I found her injured on the side of my house after not seeing her for a few days. Broken jaw. I took her in the house and kept her there after a visit to the vet until she healed up. She mostly stayed in the house after that and became a very loving affectionate cat. I am guessing she was close to 10 years old when this happened.

Landlord (new one) is strictly no pets. Don’t know if I can change that, but we will just be moving in this weekend and I don’t want to spring that on him right away. Maybe after he realizes what awesome people Mrs. Gap and I are.
Kitty has some experience staying indoors during the day. A couple of weeks ago, the Mrs. came home, opened the door and walked in and there was kitty, curled up on the couch. She looked up, yawned and went back to sleep. Didn’t seem like there was a lot of panic there.
We have a friend who’s cat friendly, in fact she would qualify as a cat lady. Some of her cats are from similar backgrounds as kitty. She may be ok as a foster home, but we really want her to be with us, and if she gets used to another house, she may not want to leave and we wouldn’t want to force the issue. We look on our friend as a last resort, other than leaving kitty here in the hood.
We have no choice in the move, as we are being “Air B N B’d” out of our rental house. This is the Bay Area, and money is God.
Bear in mind, this kitty is a very efficient mouser. I’ve seen her catch two, and eat them both in short order. This is how she lived until she captured our hearts. We live in a fairly rural area, she knows where the water sources are and the neighbor is always putting out stale bread for his goats. The bread draws the mices, and kitty eats them. Loves her some mices.
She often stays in at night, especially now that it’s kind of cold, as well as foggy and rainy. She is in no hurry to get out in the morning, usually hanging around until I put on my riding gear to go to work. She knows that’s the signal to mosey over to the door.
She’s unusual in a few ways. She’s the only cat I’ve ever known who likes her belly rubbed, and does not attack your hand halfway through the rub. In fact, she stretches out so you can rub from bottom to top, purrs loudly and hooks her claws into the carpet so she can get the full benefit of the rub. I’ve had lots of cats over the years and this one is something special. Hence my reluctance to part with her and my willingness to do what it takes to keep her with us. I WILL NOT make her life miserable, but I know she can thrive on her own, as she did before she came to us. She wasn’t thin and emaciated, just hungry for human contact. We have no one near to watch her and when we’ve had to leave for up to 4 days at a time, she takes care of biz and shows up ready for lovin’ when we return.
Thanks to all for your suggestions, and Sunny Daze, I’ll check out that link.

Talk to your local pet adoption agency and see if they have a list of people who might be willing to foster your cat for a year. She’d get care from someone who knows cats and you’d likely be able to visit her until you are ready to bring her to your new home in a year.

I think it depends on the cat. My cat was born to a feral mother, and was an outdoor cat for her first two years. When I moved East, I brought her indoors. She was perfectly happy, maybe even happier, and never once tried to get back outdoors.