Monkey is an indoor cat, and he launched his first successful escape as a kitten. He dodged my foot and careened out the front door, getting about 6 feet alongside the house before I could drop the groceries and snatch him back up. Escape numbers 2 and 3 soon followed… it was a problem in need of serious fixing.
Of course from Monkey’s point of view his escapes were just an extension of play, and I could tell he was having fun. Instead I needed him to understand he was escaping into an outside world filled with imminent danger.
After considering borrowing the neighbor’s dog, I found a safer solution: I borrowed a Halloween mask, bought a cheap radio controlled car, and created…
Yoda the Cat Boogeyman
I positioned Yoda outside, cracked the front door, and sat on the couch with Yoda’s trigger.
When Monkey came to investigate, I gave Yoda the gas:
It worked almost too well.
Monkey was crouch-crawling around the house for two hours. It was the first time the safety of his new home had been threatened, and I honestly felt bad. However, he hasn’t attempted escape since.
Monkey has, I think, only a few deeply held beliefs about the outside world. One is that whenever I’m gone, for no matter how long, I’m hanging out at the vet (where else does the car go?), another is that Yoda is perpetually waiting for him, just beyond the threshold of our front door.
If your cat has a problem escaping, I should mention there are more peaceful ways to correct their behavior. Escape behavior is also called ‘door darting’, and cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger has a book on solving this and many other behavior problems through positive reinforcement and clicker training: it’s worth reading and you can find it on Amazon here.