Story: Chapter I
26 - November 27, 2002 missing 32 days.
Confident indoors, but timid outdoors,
indoor-only Scoonie escapes for over a month.
Scoonie (left) and his brother Hobbes
it weren't for your website we probably would not have our
cat Scoonie home with us today.
somehow sneaked out the door October 26 we didn't realize
he was missing until the next day. By then he had gone into
hiding. We caught glimpses of him the following 2 Sundays
but he ran when called. We went door to door with flyers,
checked with the humane society, put ads in the papers...
but we couldn't figure out why this beloved and lovable cat
wouldn't come home to us. I kept putting food out, knowing
that a variety of pet cats were eating there.
I started looking on the web and when I read about the psychology
of missing indoor cats, it fit our situation perfectly. Our
neighbors would report seeing Scoonie sneaking into a shed
or under their porch, so we knew (after 3 weeks had gone by)
that he was staying within a few houses away. Based on the
additional instructions about trapping, I decided to buy a
large-animal trap last Friday. We caught a tabby one night,
a raccoon the next... then it snowed and last night (November
26) we caught Scoonie.
meowed pitifully at first but then seemed at home and very
much wanting to be held or at least touching one of us. I
checked with the vet who didn't think it necessary to bring
him in unless there was an obvious problem (other than underweight).
Now I'm wondering if there's any study of cat psychology AFTER
the missing pet returns home. Will he want to get back outside
any case, I send our family's heartfelt thanks. I hope you
can continue to get this message out.
so much for emailing me -- you don't know how lovely that is
to know another kitty was able to come home. It will be a Happy
Sage was somewhat hesitant about windows and doors for the first
few months after she returned from her adventure. She rarely
sat on the window sill which she escaped out of, though she
sat near other windows. During that time just after she returned,
I think she really could remember how awful it was "out there."
After a year or so, I think the memory faded. And this year
(2 years after) I think the memory is completely gone. A month
ago, our kitchen door blew open and I spotted her slowly slinking
out. . .grabbed her just in time. I think the desire to pursue
new territory (like exploring a rarely opened closet) is always
enticing to a cat. Of course once outside, it becomes a whole
different story and I'm sure she would freak out just as she
did in the summer of 2000. I really don't think she learned
much in the way of survival skills, unfortunately.
asked Pat to describe Scoonie's behavior after returning home:
far as behavior after Scoonie returned: he meowed a lot for
an hour or so, and wanted to be held. His smell seemed to
repel the other cats; two young males are just now sniffing
him without hissing. Scoonie runs away whenever the door opens
and has yet to sit up on the couch by the window, which was
his usual sunning spot. He also avoids the back door where
the other cats like to watch the birds and squirrels. And
he eats too fast! Fortunately, he remembered how to use the
would Scoonie be described as a timid cat?
Scoonie isn't particularly timid around strangers but never
showed the same degree of affection as to his family. However,
since his return he's been friendly to visiting family and
friends as well.
interesting how different cats react. What a cute name for a
Story: Chapter II Allure of the Pampas Grass NEW
February 8 - March 15, 2003 missing 35 days.
Indoor-only cat escapes for over a month
AGAIN this time into snow and 9 degree F temperatures.
Scoonie (what handsome markings look at that tail!)
"...Scoonie happens to be the "hugger" of the
group and is very affectionate..."
thought this was a chapter from the past, but guess what---Scoonie
slipped out again Saturday night, into snow and nine-degree
temperatures! And we thought he'd "learned his lesson!" We had
company in and out that evening so we didn't notice that he
was gone until feeding time Sunday morning, the very same pattern
as before. He hadn't been hanging around the door or whining
to go out, so we didn't expect this at all.
put our trap back on the porch right away---even adding a heating
pad---and we thought he'd turn up the first night, but no luck.
The last time he escaped, he was spotted going into a neighbor's
shed and under another porch for shelter, so I expect he's doing
the same thing now. However, our family is not very optimistic
this time around about his ability to survive the weather. We'll
keep you posted------more anecdotal data about crazy cat behavior!
Keep your fingers crossed.
noooooo poor you and poor Scoonie!!! :(
week I got a product called Feliway.
It has a substance that mimics the calming face rubbing pheromones
that cats put on their territory. Sage who has been really
stressed and rude to our second cat calmed down within
a day. Maybe spray some on the trap, around your house, and around
the spots he hid last time? I have no idea whether this product
will work for trapping kitties, but when it calmed Sage down,
I immediately thought of the possibility it might help scared
lost kitties. It's available at Petco, Petsmart etc.
thinking is, even if it doesn't calm down Scoonie completely, it
make take a notch down on his petrified state enough to either
come closer to home or enter a trap.
luck! I'll be keeping you and your family in my thoughts. . .
don't lose hope regarding the temperature. I know of a 10 yr old
female survived 30 days outside, which the temps were sometimes
in the 18-20 degree weather.
for the encouragement. It's supposed to go down to 12 degrees
tonight, and an inch or so more snow. For some strange reason
he seems to crave being outside----we probably should have raised
him as an in-and-out cat. Now we have to try to outsmart him.
look into the Feliway; in this weather the food smell isn't
as likely to waft in the air. Again, thanks. I'll send you a
progress report if and when.
a happy ending to the Scoonie story (again) which should provide
encouragement to others. As I reported to you in February, Scoonie
slipped out some time the evening of February 8. Since that
time, we had at least 15 inches of snow in Columbus, which stayed
on the ground until about a week ago, and temperatures in the
teens or below. We kept the trap on our front porch, and caught
3 different cats several times, but we'd almost lost hope. My
daughter thought she sighted Scoonie in late February but that
was the only report---none of the neighbors saw him.
the weather turned warm mid-week and Saturday morning, Scoonie
showed up in the trap. He's very thin and I'm taking
him to the vet today, but otherwise seems healthy....he wants
to be held or be close to you at all times but oddly enough,
is already showing interest in dashing out the door again. We
will have to be extremely vigilant but it worries me that he
will break away again, once he's fed, watered and loved.
sure how many of his nine lives are used up yet. This time he
was gone 35 days (last time it was 32, October/November)----I
guess even indoor cats have survival skills!
my goodness!! You must be having heart attacks over all these
escapes and reappearances!! If you're not, I surely am about to
if Scoonie does not already have a bell on him, IT'S TIME TO PUT
A LOUD BELL (or TWO) on the little escape artist. Once he is back
on his feet and healthy again, you might want to try a little
negative association so he continues to have bad feelings about
Lock up the other cats in another room.
Have someone with an air horn (or some other very loud obnoxious
thing) stand outside the closed front door (or whatever door
is his favorite to escape out of . . .rolling eyes).
Put a secure harness and lead on Scoonie. Hang on to the lead
while Scoonie explores the house.
Have the person outside open the door, then stay at a location
that is hidden from Scoonie, but with a good view of the door
The moment Scoonie sneaks out the door and crosses the threshold,
the person outside should let the air horn go off. He should
(if he is like most cats) run back inside. The harness and lead
are a precaution. Repeat this every month or so to reinforce
the negative associations.
horns are available in most sporting goods departments of discount
stores (near boating equipment). Some cats don't mind the feeling
of a harness. Some cats don't like the feeling on their body and
roll around trying to get out. Simply put the harness on a few
minutes each day before mealtimes. Cat will eventually associate
harness with yummy food and walk around as normal.
you for sharing the good news. I will add this chapter to his
story. No more chapters though.. . .please. :o)
Several people have shared stories of cats
that stay hidden during particularly bad weather, but then show
themselves when the weather clears up.
I've talked about this behavior with other cat owners and with
our veterinarian, and they all seem to find it weird that we
have to trap our own cat. The information you post on your website
about behavior of indoor cats still doesn't seem to be common
We put a "safety-cat" collar on Scoonie with a little bell,
so we know his whereabouts at all times and he doesn't
seem to mind at all. We finally figured
out his reason for bolting out the door. There is a small
patch of stunted pampas grass by our front door, which he loves
to gnaw on (hence the "stunted"). When the door cracks open
we've caught him dashing out to chew on the grass. He is not
at all interested in going any further or in remaining outside.
I'm thinking that his past two "getaways" resulted from his
slipping out unnoticed, later at night, and then being locked
out of the house overnight so that he panicked and ran
off. Now that he has a bell collar, we are able to catch him
when it happens and there's no problem. So, I'm not looking
for a part 3 to this story, but never say never! (I've tried
putting a plant like that indoors, but it just doesn't seem
to hold the same allure).
that explains it :D
was beginning to think you needed to send Scoonie to kitty reform
school, but couldn't imagine such a sweet cat having repeated
truant behavior! It's nice to find an explanation for an otherwise
angelic feline :o) and something I have been puzzling over.
more people I talk to the more the behavior pans out as being
very consistent. Thanks for helping spread the word to other cat
owners in case it happens to them.
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