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And by fearless, I mean really fearless. Totally not afraid of things of things any sensible animal is afraid of, like rooftops, fire, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners and the heavy traffic that goes up and down the road in front of the house all day.

That road. He’s not oblivious to it, he seems downright attracted to it. He’s been carried to the door by motorists twice. I run out when I hear car horns. I usually see him sauntering up the drive, but I caught him once sitting in the middle of the road with his tail curled around his paws, looking the other way while cars honked at him. For a while, I thought he might be deaf.

I’m really starting to wonder if this one will live to adulthood. That makes me terribly sad, because he’s such a nice little animal and we’ve gotten attached.

He’ll usually stay in the garden when we’re out there. We’ve taken to shutting him in when we’re not, at least during the hours of heaviest traffic. This is a hard house to seal up, though, and he’ll as soon go out a high window as a low one.

The internet doesn’t have any suggestions other than making all cats inside cats. Any idea when the fearless period wears off?

p.s. I beg you, no squashed pet stories. I’m sad enough as it is.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:24 pm

With “gotten attached” Her Stoatliness reveals her now complete mastery of British understatement.

We’re besotted with the ginger monster.

Comment from drew458
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:26 pm

Inside Cat lives to ripe old age, almost always. It’s true and there’s no real way around it … unless … you build one of those cat run things like the Japanese folks do? Wooden framing with builder’s cloth (rebar mesh), carpeted walkways, enclosed zone on the lawn where the mesh is dug in quite a depth to avoid tunneling, etc? I like the bentwood one best. Ought to be able to hook it up to a paneless window or other home “cat exit”, but you’d have to proof the house to close off the other escape spots.

Comment from drew458
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:40 pm

I just looked up the Framebow enclosures, made right there in the UK. Spendy! £1200 !!! But if you and the Badger can knock together some outdoor lumber and drive some staples, you can make your own for scads less. They’re really not so different than chicken runs. One suggestion I’d make: lift up about 6″ of sod, build your enclosure with a bottom screen, set it down in the pit on patio pavers, and then put the sod back in. Kitteh gets grass to play in, but can’t tunnel out that way. And no Mr. Fox tunneling in either. Yeah, the galvanized mesh will rust out in time, but it will likely last a decade under the soil.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:42 pm

We have an outdoor male cat, we call him Boris, cuz he looks like a Russian snow cat (doesn’t like the cold snow on his feet though 🙂

He just showed up on the back porch and wouldn’t go away so we adopted him. He’s not fixed and he’s in and out all day…he seems to know about roads cuz he sometimes sits at the end of the driveway but comes running back when a car comes…just on a residential street though, not a high traffic road.

We give him these ‘Whiskas Temptations’ treats…total heroin for cats…he never strays very far from his fix…if he’s out and we want him in, just shake the bag at the door and he comes running…dunno what they put in that stuff but it’s totally addictive.

Anyway, we’ve had indoor cats and outdoor cats…the outdoor cats mostly live shorter lives but happier, fuller ones, I think.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:52 pm

It’s probably too late to make an inside cat of him. He’s had seven months of freedom.

I turned an outside cat into an inside cat once. He was a real bruiser and adventurer, always getting into scrapes. When I moved to a small apartment in an urban area, I moved him with me and he became an inside cat. He didn’t live long after that. Died horribly of cancer.

He was my favorite cat, ever (and the reason I was so eager to get a ginger tom this time). I could have left him behind on my mother’s farm, but I selfishly wanted him with me.

Of all the shitty things I’ve done in my life, I think I feel shittiest about that one.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2014, 10:53 pm

Oh, gosh, I said no sad stories, and then I told one.


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: April 28, 2014, 11:03 pm

As the owner/servant of a number of long-lived cats over the years [and one short lived one who was subject to seizures and had one when fleeing from the monk’s dog would have been better] I am afraid that it is going to have to be a matter of defeating Darwin. Not that Jack is doomed, but he is going to need to receive enough of a scare to make him cautious.

Like all of our cats, our current critter is an outdoor cat, coming and going as she pleases. We have snakes of various sorts here, including rattlesnakes. We have never seen any sign of snakebite on her, but when she was a couple of years old; all of a sudden if she saw anything that looked vaguely snakelike, she would go into fight or flight mode. It could be a piece of rope on the ground, a rolled up scarf [although for some reason garden hoses don’t bother her], but she definitely does not like it. We figure that she had a scary encounter with a snake.

Normally, she also is fearless. I have seen her stalk a deer until she got close enough to decide that the size difference could not be overcome.

So there is hope.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 28, 2014, 11:12 pm

Subotai Bahadur – according to big cat experts, tigers are born with that reaction to snakes. My guess is all cats are. Our chickens certainly are – their reaction to one in our garden a year or so back was second only to mine!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2014, 11:22 pm

I’ve seen both Charlotte and Jack startle violently when I pulled the end of the hose. Charlotte can poink a yard straight up in the air. Not bad for an old girl.

I’ve been trying to think of ways of scaring him about the roads. Air horns, or leaving him in a carrier by the road for a while. I worry that anything I try would just acclimate him instead.

I can’t even get him to stop chasing chickens while I’m running after him screaming and soaking him with the hose.

Comment from Stephen Falken
Time: April 29, 2014, 12:06 am

Have you looked at getting an electronic fence? You bury a wire a couple inches underground all around your property and then put a shock collar on your pet. I know a few people who use them with dogs and they work really well with dogs anyway.

My cat is happy as long as he gets outside two or three times a week for a couple hours. And by happy I mean he doesn’t try to draw my blood.

Comment from Frit
Time: April 29, 2014, 12:45 am

Stoaty, the last cat who owned me before I left the USofA was an outdoor cat for 10 years. Then I had to move to a small flat, and took him with me. He adapted quite well, and we were happy. He lived happily for another 3 years or so. (Bringing him indoors probably extended his life, as he was diagnosed with a hyperthyroid, and had to be given meds 2x a day.) I never knew how old he really was, because he was a feral who adopted me after he’d gotten adult sized.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: April 29, 2014, 1:04 am

Husband and I have had exactly 2 cats in the 30 years we’ve now ( well almost….30 years is in 14 days) been married. Both of them totally indoor cats. The first one died at 8 years of age when our house was destroyed in a tornado with me and him and the dogs in it. The dogs and I survived. He was mad jack to a T. An orange swaggering beast that scared my Rottweilers. Only the Bassett hound wasn’t afraid of him…but that damn dog is a whole ‘nother story. The current cat is now 15, a big orange princess. She is a city kitty. She loves her window sill in the sun and loves her perch to look down on the world. She wouldn’t know what to do in the outside world…..and I’m ok with that.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: April 29, 2014, 1:19 am

My favorite cat (gone now) was in indoor cat until she was eight or so at the time we moved to our current home. We happily live on the bank of a canal, with a large brick patio on the side of the house which faces the water; there is an iron-railing fence surrounding our patio. Soon after moving we discovered that the old girl was both pretty smart and pretty dumb at the time. Having spent her life looking through windows, she knew she couldn’t get out through them, and nothing could get in. Then at our new home, a friend over for drinks let her out on the patio one evening. She looked at that iron railing and it looked exactly like a window to her. She KNEW she couldn’t get through it, so she never tried. Even when a dog came up the canal side and looked through the fence she was indifferent. However if a bird landed inside the fence she become very excited. She spent many happy evenings sitting with us out there and never, ever figured it out.

As for teaching Jack to stay away from the road…. i have no idea. My experience with teaching cats can be summarized as follows:

You can teach a cat to get off the table whenever you come into the room, but you can’t teach him not to get right back up as soon as you leave.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: April 29, 2014, 1:43 am

I’m a cat person, always have been, and have had both in- and out-door cats over the years. They’ve all had their own personalities and quirks, and my experiences with one have seldom had any value with any other. So. I don’t have any advice, just good wishes based on the fact that most cats I’ve been involved with have figured things out well enough to survive. Here’s to Jack’s old age! (holds up glass of The Macallan 18).

Comment from Oceania
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:02 am

Harry the Little Ginger Bastard?


Keep inside around Dusk, and Dawn.


Comment from Oceania
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:03 am

Othewise, fit him with an electric collar – and shock him every time he goes on the road.

One has to be cruel, to be kind.

Comment from Bob
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:34 am

I saw this pic for cat lovers at Ace of Spades. Here’s the link:

Also, about the nail in the foot. For my own reasons, I am trying to recall the stuff that my grandmother used to put in a bucket to soak my feet in after I stepped on nails and such to “draw the poison out”. I went looking at the pharmacy, and they thought I was weird. It wasn’t Epsom salts. I think it started with a P. She’d add several drops to a bucket, add hot water (too hot) and make me sit with the offended foot in the bucket.
Anyone remember? Thanks.

Comment from catnip
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:50 am

Jack will gradually settle down as he gets older, but being confined indoors at this point would probably make him very unhappy. From a lifetime’s experience of cats in the household, we’ve found that Oceania’s is very good advice: make sure the cat guy is only allowed outside during the day. Barring an extraordinary circumstance, such as being chased by something, his excellent hearing and eyesight should keep him safe from passing cars as long as it’s light out.

Comment from Oceania
Time: April 29, 2014, 4:00 am

For some reason their vision plays up in changing light levels … after all, that’s when they get all their kills in the wild.
Near these light changes – they become active, hyper, and make poor decisions.

Nothing like scraping a seal British Burmese off the road as it gurgles, bleeds and has blood foaming out its nose.

If you value your animal – keep it in around Twilight … Dusk and Dawn.

And don’t rip that off for a movie sequeal either …

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: April 29, 2014, 4:04 am

Bob –

I am betting your Grandma was using borax in that bucket…..

Comment from JuliaM
Time: April 29, 2014, 4:43 am

I wish I had an answer for you. 🙁

Comment from tonyc
Time: April 29, 2014, 10:40 am

Other than accepting the fact that none of us, cats, dogs, people, etc. are getting out of this thing alive I would second oceania’s recommendation on the shock collar to help with your efforts to extend the inevitable.

Comment from East Asia
Time: April 29, 2014, 2:03 pm

Stoaty, I have an outdoor-innie (indoor-outie?) who built her OWN cat door, thankyouverymuch. I gave up and let her have her outside, even though we have ‘yotes (BOTH dogs have been attacked). She’s going on 14. I worry about a ‘yote getting her, but…keeping her in would be like a prison sentence.

Comment from Tibby
Time: April 29, 2014, 2:47 pm

Nothing to add, good luck, Damned aggravating lovely cats!

Comment from Deborah
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:09 pm

It creeps the hell outta me to even write this, but: you could invest in a box of rubber snakes (see Amazon) and use them to establish the perimeter of your choice. Make a placement map so you don’t scare the daylights out of yourself, and will know where they are so you can remove them later. People in my neck of the woods use rubber snakes to keep cats out of their gardens, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t work to keep Jack IN the garden.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: April 29, 2014, 3:27 pm

All my cats have been strictly indoor, or in-patio, cats.

That said, my part-Maine Coon Arizona, also a big red-coated tom, was utterly fearless with new people and almost everything else until he was about 5-6 months old. My then wife and I had a burglary around that time in which our stereo was stolen, and when we came back home we found him quivering under the bed. After that he was defensive around strange people, usually men (he’d warm up quicker to females). He lived to be over 16, and retained that wariness to the end.

So it’s possible Mad Jack will change his outlook on life. Not probable — you’d do best to keep him in if you can — but possible.

Comment from CrabbyOldBat
Time: April 29, 2014, 5:42 pm

We are all besotted with Mad Jack. You need to take hundreds of pictures of him, all over the house, all over the yard. If he becomes road pizza, continue to post pictures and speak of him in the present tense. As the years pass, use your mad Photoshop skillz to make him bigger and older. After about 15 years, you may inform us he passed peacefully in his sleep. Dead chickens I can take, dead kitties are too sad.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: April 29, 2014, 8:27 pm

All my cats are indoor-only cats. They’ve never known anything else. Seven months is very, very young. Jack would soon adjust to living indoors, and by soon I mean within six months. You might consider this stuff, too:


My sister uses it to let her cats get the fun of being outdoors without the risk and swears by it. She’s got a mature former alley cat who adapted very well to the mix of indoors/fenced back yard. Jack is so young he’d be sure to adapt.

Comment from DVT
Time: April 30, 2014, 3:39 am

We have 4 cats currently, 2 more previous to this set. We have one in the current set much like Jack: completely fearless. Three of the current four were semi feral. Ages when they moved indoors ranged from 6 to 18 months.

They have all adapted quite cheerfully to an environment of easy food, being dry, at a comfortable temperature, with lots of windows and soft spots to sleep. They also REALLY like dry cat litter instead of digging in the cold wet ground.

If fearless Bucki (don’t ask) can adapt to inside life, I’d bet Jack can too. And he will have a much longer life – someone above said about 15 years instead of 3 or 4 and that corresponds to what I’ve read and our experience. Predators, cars, bad water, other cats, nasty people, and disease really take a toll on free-roaming cats and we have always taken the position that by adopting them, their safety is now our responsibility. If that means they don’t get quite the free roaming, well 10 extra years of playtime and good vet care is the trade off.

Yeah, we are probably overprotective. But they are our family.

If you were inclined, you can set up a cat run. We had one at the prior house home-made with PVC 3/4″ piping, cable ties, and chicken wire that was about 3′ x 5′. We backed it up against a small window (too small for any person to get through), installed a cat door with a magnetic catch in the open window, and let Elvis and Tomo go in and out as they pleased. Total cost was as I recollect about $25-30. If you were to go this route, definitely put in a floor secured to the frame (open mesh like ThruFlow is great because the vegetation can grow up inside). If there’s no floor the little devils tend to tunnel under. Really amazing how much a determined cat can lift with her nose.

Anyway, my advice is bring him in or at least control where he can go outside. I don’t think he’s too old to make the transition and he will very likely have a lot more years with you.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: April 30, 2014, 12:32 pm

I can’t even get him to stop chasing chickens while I’m running after him screaming and soaking him with the hose.

Yes, but were you wearing your Struwwelpeter wig?

Comment from BJM
Time: April 30, 2014, 3:40 pm

Five years ago we moved to an almost no-traffic, semi-rural canyon, next to a nature preserve and still have a high risk cat threat;coyotes.

I couldn’t find our 13 yr cat last night, she is a half indoor & half outdoor cat who stays inside quite happily all winter, but come spring she wants out and makes everyone’s life miserable until she gets her way. As she eagerly comes when called for dinner scraps (the bribe) getting her inside at night has not been an issue and of course coyotes are most active at night…but I see them during the day on the deer trail along the creek below our property too.

Anyhoo, after repeatedly calling and hunting for her until 10 PM and hearing coyote yelps in the near distance, I went to bed almost in tears thinking “Well that’s probably that”.

Just before I turned off the light she bounded into the room with a big grin. Apparently, she came in through an open window and was curled up in a new hidey hole in the house the entire time I was frantically calling her. ARRGGGHH! Why do they do that?!

Some cats live happily indoors and some won’t, our oldest cat died of natural causes last year and she was perfectly happy inside and only ventured out to bask on the deck or nap in the kitchen garden next to the house…her sister was manic to get out & about the neighborhood…the road claimed her.

So I dunno…of our last 5 cats, the road at our previous home claimed two over a period of ten years and 2 died of old age…one remains and I’m torn as she’s getting older…but she still climbs a tree like a squirrel on fire.

*Throws hands up*

I think you have to go with your gut.

Comment from Harry
Time: April 30, 2014, 7:59 pm

Some Veg–I dunno. Years ago–too many to be sure–a friend was determined to keep his cat from jumping up on the kitchen counters. He tried everything he–or any of the rest of us–could think of, nothing worked. Finally, he made the rounds of office supply stores and bought DOZENS of cards of thumbtacks, then spent a couple of hours just before bedtime arranging them on the counters–then went to bed, and as he said later, “Just waited for it.” He said that was the only time he ever heard a cat literally SCREAM. He went out to the kitchen and found Sam–the tomcat–trying to get thumbtacks out of all four paws. He took care of that, then went back to bed. Once more to drive the lesson home and the cat couldn’t be found anywhere near those counters.

Comment from lauraw
Time: May 1, 2014, 2:13 am

If his momma wasn’t around to teach him what was smart and what was stupid, then you’ll have to wait until he’s almost three years old for him to mellow.

This is the period of time it takes for a mischievous juvenile kitty to go from the funny guy you love (who is endangered by his own lovable recklessness), to the boring, lumpen rug barnacle that all cats eventually become if they are lucky.

Comment from BJM
Time: May 1, 2014, 3:50 am

@Harry…aluminum foil works…cats hate the feel of it underfoot and you just fold it up when you want to use the surface…best part is that it works anywhere with very little bother. I caught one of our cats licking our toothbrushes. I have no idea how long we’d been sharing a toothbrush with the cat…but foil stopped bathroom counter surfing too.

Comment from Christopher Smith
Time: May 6, 2014, 3:46 am

Perhaps redirection can work better than banning the road. Give him places to watch and play with the chickens and perhaps the road will be old hat.

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