Keeping a Cat Safe
A common question people ask if their cat should be allowed to roam outside or be an indoor cat. Many people are choosing to keep their cats inside or in safe outdoor enclosures, not only for the safety of the cat but also to keep wildlife safe. Cats are natural born hunters and without keeping your cat enclosed outside there will always been a chance that whey will impact on the wildlife.
There are many risks outdoors that can shorten your cat’s life span. However, many cats really enjoy being outdoors and miss the stimulation of the natural world if they are kept inside all the time.
There are several different ways that you can allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors without the risk. You can install perches on windowsills around the house so that your cat can sit at the window, watch the outdoors and enjoy the sunlight. You can teach your cat to walk on a leash so that you can safely walk them outdoors.
Another option is to build an outdoor enclosure (catio) for your cat.
Other things you need to do to keep your cat safe are:
Even an indoor cat should have a current ID tag on their collar in case they get out.
Microchip must be implanted
Desex you cat to prevent wandering and fighting.
Find out what common household items, human food and garden plants might be toxic to cats.
If you have a pool make sure your cat has a way to exit the water - a home made ramp fitted to the pool stays is all that is needed.
Cats easily drown if they cannot climb out and get fatigued constantly swimming.
Know which common garden and indoor plants are toxic to your cats and dogs. Pets for life has produced an illustrated book "Toxic Plants" outlining common Australian plants toxic to your pets. The book is illustrated to enable you to spot the plant in your yard, even if you may not know the name. Contact Pets for Life to Order your copy for $25.00 plus postage.
Teach your cat to walk on a leash.
Buy a harness and leash. There are many different types of harnesses made especially for cats. Choose one that is simple and fast to put on but will not let the cat wiggle out.
Get the cat accustomed to the harness. Leave the harness in your cat’s sleeping area for a few days so he will get used to it.
Slide the harness over her head.
Rest the harness on the back of her neck.
Adjust the belly straps and fasten the closures.
Reward your cat with treats after you perform each step. Take care to notice if he’s showing signs of anxiety. If the cat gets too anxious take the harness off and try again the next day. It may take several sessions for your cat to get comfortable with the harness.
Once the cat is comfortable with the harness clip on the leash and let him walk around indoors. Use treats to make it a positive experience. During this indoor trial run make sure you adjust the harness properly to fit your cat - not too tight and not loose enough to slip out of.
When your cat seems relaxed with indoor walks on lead then try it outdoors. Carry him outside and set him down in a safe and relatively quiet place, such as a fenced backyard.
While your cat is on leash let him go where he wants to go, but keep him well away from streets and traffic. Always keep the leash slack and don’t ever pull on it. If your cat is startled by something, try to keep the leash slack until you can reach him to prevent him from wriggling out of the harness. Until he is comfortable with being outside and is used to the sounds and sights take a towel to protect yourself should the cat become distressed and need to be picked up and carried back inside.