NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: Henry, our 8-year-old black cat, came from the U.K. and moved to the U.S. with us in 2007. We’ve been told he might be part Siamese — he’s friendly sporadically but also skittish. He’s not a fighter, so he doesn’t clash with other cats. We’ve never had problems letting him outside for two or three hours at a time. Our older cat died in November, so Henry has been solo since.
We moved 300 yards across a busy road in May, from a townhouse to a single-family home. We have a nice, open backyard for Henry to explore. We kept him inside the first couple of weeks, as advised. On three successive outings, he looked around for 15 to 20 minutes (there were two stray cats we haven’t seen for a while now), sniffed a lot, then promptly crossed the road to his old house.
I looked into an invisible fence — $1,500 — and who knows if he’ll take to the training. I tried a harness and he slipped it off within 15 minutes and went under our deck where, thankfully, I was able to fall on him like a fumble.
My wife is all for keeping him indoors permanently. We’ve added a scratching post and he has a few toys. The problem, to me, is that he sleeps while we’re gone all day and comes to life at night. I’m not the heaviest sleeper, and one to two times per week, he decides he’s hungry or needs to go to the loo and yowls loudly at 3:30 or 4 in the morning.
I’d love to be able to trust him to go out when we’re home late afternoons and evenings. I think he’d be happier, though he’s been pretty good about it. All I can think of is getting him a better harness and slowly acclimating him. We have a large deck, so that would be a good place to let him explore a bit.