My Indoor Cat Wants to go Outside

Cats can spend happy and healthy lives just by living indoors. However, it is natural for even the most satisfied and well-cared-for indoor cat to express interest in going outside. Indoor cats may spend hours staring through windows or peek their heads through open doors when they are given the opportunity. This leaves us owners wondering if we are making the right decision in keeping our cats indoors all the time. This is even tougher for cat owners who don’t have a choice in keeping their feline companions indoors all the time due facts such as living in an apartment, dangerous local wildlife, and health complications. We use this article to go over the reasons why your indoor cat may be expressing interest in going outside, whether you should let them go outside, and ways you may be able to come to a compromise on their ability to explore the outdoors.

Why does my cat really want to go outside?

If your cat has recently started showing interest in going outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to actually go outside. In fact, it may be more likely that they are more interested in satisfying some of their other base instincts. As we have previously covered, cats have the strong need to satisfy their base instincts which include establishing territory, hunting, and searching for a mate. Out of these instincts, the easiest to identify and address is your cats instinct to search for a mate. This applies to both male and female cats who haven’t been fixed.

Un-spayed female cats will periodically go into heat, during this time they will actively look for a mate. If your cat is able to see or smell a male outdoor cat, they may feel the strong compulsion to get out of the house to try to mate with them. Similarly, if your un-neutered male indoor cat has detected a female outdoor cat in heat, they will feel the need to find them to mate. The most effective way to remove the risk of your cat wanting to go outside to mate is to spay and neuter your cats. Indoor cat owners should strongly consider spaying or neutering their indoor cats at an appropriate time due to the improvements in behavior and health the procedure provides.

Why does my indoor cat always sit in the doorway or window?

If your indoor cat spends a long time sitting near the doorway to your house or staring out of windows, they could be expressing territorial behavior. For an indoor cat, this territory will cover your whole living space and they will feel the need to monitor and protect this area. This is a normal behavior for any cat but if your indoor cat has recently started spending much more time doing this, they could be perceiving a new threat to their territory. The most obvious cause of this could be a new animal in the area that they can see, smell, or hear. Cats’ senses of hearing and smell are significantly stronger than us humans so it may not be immediately obvious what the new threat could be. If you think that this is the case, you probably don’t have to be too worried about your indoor cat escaping at the first opportunity you get, although you should still be cautious. You may be able to make your cat feel more comfortable in their own home by installing more places where your cat can feel more secure. Adding tunnels, shelves, and cat trees are easy ways to do this.

Why is my indoor cat staring out the window and meowing?

Cats are infamously curious creatures and will naturally be interested but cautious of things that are new to them. If you have noticed your cat spending more time staring out of the window or peaking through the door, they may be some new stimulant that they are interested in. If your indoor cat has recently picked one place next to a window sit at watch the world go by, there could be watching something and keeping itself entertained with “cat TV”. Your cat may meow or make chattering sounds while doing this. This is actually a fairly normal behavior. Researchers aren’t completely sure why cats do this but theories have guessed that this is a predatory instinct which helps cats hunt. Cats are likely to show the most interest in small objects that move irregularly. This could be a branch in the wind, small animals like birds, or lights being reflected by moving cars.

Again, you don’t have to be worried if your cat is doing this as they are essentially entertaining themselves for free. The main cause for concern would be if they are watching what they could perceive as prey from a balcony or sliding door. The danger here could be that your indoor cat would feel the need to hunt and run off to catch the object they had been watching if they are given the chance. More generally, your cat may be a little bored if they are constantly looking out the window. Cat TV is a good mental stimulant but it would be better for you to spend some more quality time together playing with physical toys to keep their energy levels down.

Is it okay to let my indoor cat outside?

It is generally not recommended to let indoor cats outside. This is for the safety of the cat. If your cat has grown up indoors, they won’t have the experience in dealing with the outside world. The main problem is that they won’t understand how to behave around dangerous situations such as oncoming traffic, other animals, and harmful foods.

This may seem cruel of your indoor cat seems to just be curious about their surroundings, but in our experience not all cats enjoy going outside even if they appreciate watching it through a window. If you still want to try showing your indoor cat the outside world, you can start by training them to walk on a leash for short periods. Again, not all indoor cats come enjoy walking outside even if they have been correctly trained.  


How do I stop my indoor cat getting outside?

If your indoor cat still tries to dart out of the door despite the advice that we’ve given you, our best advice would be to be careful about leaving any windows or doors to the outside open in your home. You may be able to install netting and screens to prevent your cat from crawling through them.

Mistakes do happen and even if you are very careful there is always a chance that your cats will eventually try to run away one day when you open the door. We strongly recommend that you train your cat to come you when you call out their name or a sound for emergencies like this. Additionally, all cat owners should have good quality photos of their cats and descriptions of distinctive markings to make missing posters as soon as possible.