Scary time: When your house cat sneaks out

At one time or another, all three of my family’s cats — Pip, our current fur ball, Bailey, our first, and Abby, our second — have tried to sneak out of the house.

Researchers I’ve read on the subject describe this behavior as territorial and to be expected, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.

Amy Shojai at writes, “Indoor cats sometimes attempt to escape out of the house, and this can be especially frightening for their owners. Most house cats are not at all equipped to handle the sensory overload of being outside and come back inside immediately, but if your house cat gets out, they run the greatest risk of injuring themselves (or being injured by another cat, person, or car).”

Luckily, we’ve avoided such outcomes, but each cat clearly has seen our residence as “their” home. And as responsible “homeowners,” they have tried not only to protect their house but their yard as well.

Naturally, since our three cats didn’t have the keys or pass codes to open the doors leading to their yards, they had to find other ways to carry out their inspections.

Bailey and Abby, both females, tried using a doggy door we had built in our sunroom. Unfortunately, both of our dogs at the time, Mocha, a Miniature Schnauzer, and Lucy, a multiple mix-breed, never had the opportunity to use the doggy door.

That’s because both cats quickly learned how the door worked and we learned just as quickly it had to say closed to stop the two felines from turning it into a turnstile.

By the time Pip graced us with his presence several years ago, we had abandoned the idea of a doggy door.

Abby also tried a front-door breakout. I was at the front door talking to a neighbor when the tuxedo-colored cat decided to make a run for the open door. Lucy, our resident barker, ran after her, caught up and laid a front paw on the cat, stopping her freedom flight. Lucy held Abby until my neighbor picked the cat up and unceremoniously brought her back inside.

Last spring, Pip tried his luck. Our garage door its weather strip replaced, leaving it loose and easily opened. One day Pip, noticing the door was slightly open, walked through it. At the time, I was in the bedroom making the bed and my husband Ed was downstairs. I happened to glance outside and saw a black and white cat crawling around the edge of our sun porch.

“Whoa,” I yelled.

In the next breath, I was yelling for Ed to get Pip.

Fortunately, he heard me, along with half the neighborhood. Ed, the one-time cross-country runner, promptly flew up the stairs, through the house and out the sun porch’s sliding glass door, grabbing Pip just before the cat fell what looked from my vantage point to be at least a mile down to the yard below, although it was just a few feet.

The door’s weather stripping was replaced that day. It took me about two days to stop shaking and about a week before I stopped glaring at Ed for not fixing the weather stripping when we first noticed it.

Pip? He was fine. Not a care in the world.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives with her family and two furry animals who inspire her. She can be reached at

Cat escape precautions

1. Yearly, check escape routes, doors, windows, for repair.

2. Place a sign on outside doors telling visitors cat is not allowed outside.

3. Place obstacles in front of escape routes, tin foil on door entrances, etc.

4. Cat(s) should always wear a collar and tag as well as be microchipped in case it does get out.


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