Ragdoll Behavior Question for Dr. Jenn – To Go Outside Or Not?

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny

Questions for our Guest Vet and Ragdoll Breeder, Dr. Jenn, have become quite popular.  Jamie, owner of Rufus and Druscilla sent in the following question from Australia:

Dear Dr Jenn,

Rufus and Druscilla
Rufus and Druscilla

I have two 16 month old ragdoll cats, a Seal Mitted Boy called Rufus and a Blue Bi-Colour girl called Druscilla.   They are absolutely beautiful but I am having some trouble as they can be very vocal and desperately want to go outside, despite being raised from babyhood indoors.   They have plenty of toys to play with, and I rotate them so they don’t get too bored, favourite currently being three small toy mice tied on hat elastic –they recently broke into the toy bag & pulled everything out!  They play together quite happily at times.

Unfortunately Rufus suffered from Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism as a kitten due to his breeder feeing him inappropriately, but my vet assures me he is now healthy and happy.   They twins follow me around the house constantly involved in all activities – except they hate the vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately  at times they will both scream and cry when well fed and after a good bout of


play.  When I have to work late “Grandma” will come play for a couple of hours.   I take them outside as often as possible during the week–more of course of weekends – on the harness and leads.  They both hate this as the want to be free to roam but I know this is not possible.   They have perches near windows & plenty of birds to watch but this seems to only create frustration.

Any ideas for me?  I’m feeling like a bad Ragdoll owner.



Dr. Jenn replied:

“A scientist named Pavlov concluded that the strongest kind of reinforcement is intermittent as versus constant reinforcement. So by letting them out sporadically you are making them desperately want to go out. In order for them to stop or at least not get worse your going to have to decide if they are outside or inside cats and make it so all of the time. It goes without saying that they really should be true indoor cats as there are all kinds of bad things they can catch outside. Even if they are on a leash they can get parasites and respiratory disease to name just a few.”


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One thought on “Ragdoll Behavior Question for Dr. Jenn – To Go Outside Or Not?

  1. Michelle says:

    Jamie, you are certainly not a “bad Ragdoll owner” but quite the opposite as you are concerned about the health, welfare, and happiness of your cats, even recruiting Grandma to come visit. Actually they might be a bit on the spoiled side! :o) Many people feel guilt about their animals’ state of mind when it isn’t warranted and that guilt is oftentimes misread by the animal as anxiety which is transferred. Is it possible that the vocalizations after eating and playing are expressions of thanks and joy rather than those of exasperation and discontent at not being able to be outside more frequently? What makes you think their window perches cause frustration about not being able to go outside?

    As Dr. Jenn pointed out, there are dangers associated with being outside, even on a harness and leash, but those that she mentioned may be minimized by taking them places where other animals don’t frequent (and particularly poop) and vaccinations. The variable that I believe you are least able to control is other animals, especially dogs, that may not be confined or controlled. I’m sure you have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the areas the three of you travel but I’d suggest considering that possibility and formulating a plan of action should you encounter that situation.

    Like me, it seems that our furry friends want to get outside more as the weather cools. Our boy, Paulie, has not moved a muscle towards an open door in months, even though two of his feline housemates and all of the canines go in and out frequently, but my husband told me he bolted toward it several days ago. So if you’ve noticed an increase in desire for outings lately, that could be why. Paulie has been out on leash either on our 6 acres at home or our 50 acres in the mountains, where I’m reasonably confident that we won’t encounter any critters other than his canine companions and were we not fortunate enough to have these two areas, I would definitely be very selective about where he might be allowed to go on leash…but we did take one of our first prairie dogs to a National Forest on her harness and leash so I suspect Paulie would still be able to touch paw to dirt, leaves, and grass from time to time.

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