Cats & Schedules

Cats come with all sorts of different personalities, but almost all of them get a sense of security from predictable schedules.  The schedule can be a real lifesaver, especially for those cats who enjoy anticipating future activities.  Loreena C. writes:  

Our cat, Dubbie, goes outside on a harness on a long string. She is now demanding very loudly to go outside. We do not let her out alone. How do we stop her from being so demanding until we can have time to take her out.

Loreena, we assume you mean you're taking Dubbie out on a leash.  Under no circumstances should any animal ever be tied up outside.  If you're walking Dubbie on her leash, congrats on getting her to accept the harness.  Many cats will, but many owners give up on their feline friends too soon.

Our advice is to schedule a particular time each day when Dubbie will be taken outside.  Make a schedule and stick to it.  Most cats love being able to anticipate that something fun will happen at the same time every day.  In fact, many won't enjoy activities if they can't anticipate when they'll happen.

When you begin this new schedule, Dubbie will be oblivious to it, so she will continue to beg to be let out.  You will have to learn to ignore it for the time being.  Our favorite phrase to use is "It's not time yet."  Say it in an offhanded way without even looking at her and continue what you were doing.  If you give her positive attention during these cries to go out, she'll continue them indefinitely.  Just dismiss her in this way that lets her know you heard her but you aren't going to comply...yet.

When it IS time to go out, make a big deal about it and say "Time to go out!"  You may not believe it, but most cats can learn to understand the word "time".  In fact, most of them are excellent timekeepers.  Once you have Dubbie anticipating the time of day when she gets to go out, she may still push the envelope and make her requests before it's actually time, but that's because she's anticipating the activity, and that's as much fun for cats as it is for humans.

We anticipate that you'll be able to get Dubbie on schedule in no time flat!  We wish you both all the best!