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Why Does My Cat Want to Go Outside? 5 Vet Approved Reasons

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

cat looking outside the window

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sometimes, cats can be extremely difficult to understand. You’ll find articles all across the Internet explaining funny things about cat behavior or helping owners figure out exactly what their cat is trying to tell them. However, other times, you know exactly what they want.

If your cat is constantly asking to go outside, it can get quite annoying. Whether they’re pawing at the door or meowing incessantly, it probably isn’t hard to figure out what your cat is trying to get you to do.

Whether or not you typically let your cat outside, you may be wondering why your cat insists on being let out so much. Below, we’ve listed several possible reasons.

Top 5 Reasons Cats Want to Go Outside

1. She’s in Heat

If your cat is an intact female, there is a possibility that she is in heat (estrus). When she is in heat, she will often try to go where she thinks the male cats are outside. It is a normal phenomenon and is seen even if your cat typically doesn’t like other cats. Other signs to look out for include increased vocalization, more frequent urination, and increased affectionate behavior to people in the home. If your cat is in heat, there is a high chance that she can get pregnant if let outside. Therefore, you should never let an in-heat cat outside.

2. He Smells an In-Heat Cat

If your cat is male, he will be on the lookout for a female that he can mate with. As you’d imagine, cats have a stronger sense of smell than we do and can detect pheromones released by females. Therefore, a male cat may sense the presence of an in-heat female even if that female doesn’t live in your home. If your male suddenly wants to get outside very badly, there is a chance it is because of a nearby female.

a savannah cat standing outside on a backyard deck
Image Credit: Patrick Hatt, Shutterstock

3. Habit

Most cats ask to go outside because it is a habit. If you usually let your cat outside, then they may simply ask to go outside because that is what they’ve always done. For this reason, suddenly deciding that your cat should stay indoors is often challenging. Once a cat has established itself as an outdoor cat, changing their mind about a routine can be difficult.

4. Natural Instinct

Like their wild counterparts, our domesticated cats are explorers. Therefore, they may have a curiosity to go learn about the environment. Some cats are particularly prone to wanderlust and will try to escape their whole life, while others are more fearful of the unknown and typically won’t try to escape under most circumstances.

5. Prey Items

If your cat has a good view of the outdoors, they’ve probably noticed all of the birds and other animals outside. Some cats have a strong prey drive, so they go out on the prowl to hunt the birds they’ve noticed outside. Therefore, many cats will try to escape to hunt, though this is obviously not great for the local avian population.

black and white cat walking in the garden
Image Credit: jantichy, Pixabay

What Do You Do When Your House Cat Wants to Go Outside?

If your cat suddenly wants to go outside, for whatever apparent reason, our typical suggestion is to not let them. Not only are cats exposed to all sorts of dangers outside, but the last thing you need is an unexpected cat pregnancy or possible brawl. For this reason, we typically do not recommend letting them outside.

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Wanting to Go Outside?

If your cat keeps trying to go outside, then there often isn’t much you can do but wait. There are very few things you can actively do to prevent your cat from wanting to go outside. It’s not like you can talk to your cat and convince them that they don’t want to go outside!

If your cat is in heat or smells an in-heat cat, then they will likely stop wanting to go outside once this phase passes. Getting your cat spayed or neutered can also prevent it from happening in the future.

If and when you acquiesce to allowing your cat to go outside, it is highly recommended that they be microchipped and have appropriate external identification for their protection in case they stray too far from home or are found by a good Samaritan who can contact you or who can bring them to a vet hospital for assessment in case of any external wounds.

Cat inside house looking out the window
Image Credit: rebecaml, Pixabay


In summary, there are many reasons why cats may want to go outside very badly. Whether it is habitual or hormonal, we hope this has lent insight into the behaviors you have noticed in your feline friend and gives you a better understanding of how to prevent this behavior or ensure their safety to the best degree that you can.

See also: Are Indoor Cats Happy? 6 Ways to Entertain & Enrich Them

Featured Image Credit: maigrey42, Pixabay

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