How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Sara Your Own Question
Dr. Sara
Dr. Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 802
Experience:  DVM 19 years
45762142
Type Your Vet Question Here...
Dr. Sara is online now

I recently got an older (7) cat whose 2 previous owners

This answer was rated:

Hi, I recently got an older (7) cat whose 2 previous owners lived in rural.locations and were both elderly. It seems to me that this cat is semi-feral as he has been allowed to hunt and doesn't understand the concept of play in the home..
Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the cat's name and age?
Customer: He is called Billy and he is 7
Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Billy?
Customer: Well trying to turn him into a house cat is challenging

Hi, this is Dr. Sara. You have certainly taken on a challenge. My thought is that maybe he was more of a farm cat vs a pet. He probably enjoys attention when he is outside but does not want to be in a house; he probably feels trapped. He is not used to it. I am not saying it is impossible, but he may develop some undesirable behavior issues like peeing in the house. Are you in an area where he could go outside?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Well everyone has been telling me to keep him inside for 2 weeks. I have had him inside for 5 days and has stopped miaowing and seems depressed. He hides under my bed all the time. I feel so guilty like I am keeping him prisoner. He is a good hunter and was supposed to help me keep the rat population down around my flat.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
He likes having a home though and to be able to come and cuddle on my lap when he is cold

I see. Are you in a city? and can't allow him to go outside a bit?

It's a good sign that he will cuddle with you. Maybe trying some special things to eat to make being inside not so bad.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I can let him go outside but I am worried he will run away because he only moved here 5 days ago. I know he wants to go outside he stares through the windows longingly. I feel cruel. I think I should get him a collar with my number on it and trust him to go outside, I just can't stand him hating me so much for keeping him in.

If you are able to let him out then I would get the collar, keep him in for a little longer so he knows where home is and then try letting him out a little at a time. Maybe have some food on the porch/steps during the day to keep him close. Then trying to get him in at night. I think this may work but I don't see him being 100% indoor for the rest of his life. I think he'll show other behavioral issues.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No I don't want him to be indoors. I thought I would feed him in the morning let him out during the day and then hopefully he would come back for more dinner in the evening. This location is semi-rural and there are foxes and other night animals that may threaten him. So I would like him to come in at night. But that is when he comes alive!

Yes, that sounds like a good idea but I think maybe another 3-5 days so he knows where home is. The one thing you could do is give him a pet container to get into at night if he doesn't come in before you go to bed. My in-laws always had an Igloo Brand pet house that they put a wind block on the entrance and put straw and blankets in there. That way if their cat came home after they went to bed, he had a warm place to crawl into.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
thank you that sounds like a good idea. Ultimately if he runs away he runs away. But he likes my food and warmth. I had already considered a little house for him seeing as there is no catflap here. But thanks that has put my mind at rest.

I totally understand. I have had indoor/outdoor cats in the past and I always worried. He is smart being outside, just keep reminding him of your affection and food! Good luck!

Dr. Sara and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Ok thanks
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Thank you Billy has settled down a lot recently.
Glad to hear that! Thanks for letting me know