Indoor cat frustrated

Hi there,
I have a lovely 10 year old cat, Panda, who came to me as a stray nearly 2 years ago. She was friendly and domesticated, but underweight and had worms which I treated her for, and adopted her. I think she was an outdoor cat who ran away (no microchip was found) but was once well cared for as she is friendly and sweet.
I wrote 6 months ago and you gave helpful advice so I wanted to provide an update and get further advice!

8 months ago we moved house, from my old (safe) walled garden where she could roam freely (she did jump the wall sometimes but it was very safe and off the road, and backed on to other walled gardens). she is an avid hunter and was always bringing me mice etc). I moved now to a first floor apartment which has no garden access. I hoped she would adjust, and have followed all the guidelines (plenty of play activities, time with her, scratch posts, even a daily harness walk in a safe area, which she loves!). I also have a balcony that has grass and a few plants for her. I did request access to the garden downstairs (it's owned by the council) however they said no. It is also not ideal, there are often people coming and going and there are fences where she could easily jump over onto the road. Given her past history, she is definitely a flight risk! She has bolted a few times on our harness walks, any loud noise or exciting bird and she makes a run for it, although she did come back to me when I was calling her.

Anyway I'm at a loss now, as she really mews at the door a lot, and I can see she really misses her outdoor life. she sits by the door mewing a lot. Usually I can distract her and we play ball etc, and she'll enjoy that, but then mew again later on.

I try not to reward the crying, but I also feel so bad for her as she never cried in the old house and I know it's all about being stuck inside. After 10 years (probably) being free, it must be hard for her!

So my question is - is there anything else I can do? Is 8 months long enough to know that this situation won't really work? Am I contributing to the problem by often responding to her door mews? She is otherwise quite happy and no other behaviours or anxiety (no peeing on couch or anything!) and she snuggles with me every night. My only other idea was to try negotiating with downstairs for more access, and to build a ladder for her, but I know it's not very safe and it's likely she won't stay just in the safe garden and will run all over the neighbourhood and maybe get run over.

However, if she is frustrated being in captivity, I don't want that for her either! Any advice would be appreciated as I'm really struggling with this :( Thank you!

RESPONSE:

I've pondered this for a few months and have come up with no helpful solution for you.

However, I will say that if I was in this situation I would continue some playtime when there are mews at the door and accept that as a plea for attention in lieu of freedom.

Too many times a cat that has been outdoors and misses it will suffer a tragic outcome when an owner finally relents and lets them outdoors in a strange area they aren't familiar with. Cars, coyotes and other predators may do serious harm and worse.

I wish I could have some up with something useful for you but I can only suggest you continue the playtime with the mews.

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