Letting your cat outside: What you need to know
How long is it normal for your cat to stay outside and how can you make her come back again?
31 August 2018
Whether you’re letting your cat outside, roam freely through the neighbourhood, or you prefer to keep your cat indoors, providing her with a good and comfortable life, while also ensuring their safety, is always a point of concern.
Keeping your cat happy inside: Best tips
If you decide keeping your cat inside is the safer way to go, you’ll have to be creative. Provide your kitty with sufficient stimulation to avoid your furniture falling prey to their claws until the upholstery falls apart. Make it more comfortable for your indoor cat. Here’s how:
- Toys: While most of our feline friends are content with an old shoelace as long as you play with and keep them engaged, feather teasers, a squeaky toy mouse or the occasional catnip toy will go a long way to entertain them for hours.
- Window perch: A window perch is a small platform that can be mounted on the wall at windowsill level or directly attached to the window with suction pads. Your pet will be able to watch the happenings outside while relaxing in the sun.
- Heating pads: It’s winter or you’re living somewhere north where there’s naturally little sunlight? Then you might find your kitty happily warming her butt on your laptop or other heated pieces of hardware. To keep your electronics safe without having to hide them all, provide your cat with a heating pad for pets. These are – as opposed to your electronic devices – safe for your cat to use. Most feature heat control, the covers are usually washable, and the wires are covered in claw-safe material.
Did you know: With the power of their senses, cats always find their home. Some cats were even able to find their way home years after they got lost.
Cat outside: be aware of toxic plants
There is an extensive list of plants toxic to cats which can induce liver failure and death. Some of them include:
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons
- English ivy
- Spanish thyme
- Tulip and Narcissus
If you have a garden where you can’t control what your cats might be nibbling on, make sure they don’t accidentally ingest anything toxic to them. The same, of course, applies to all your indoor potted plants.
How-to keep your kitty safe outside
Train your cat
Are you a new cat parent? Then take time to train your kitty from the start. No idea where to start? Here are a few tips:
- Training: If your cat is still young, train her to listen to her name immediately.
- Treats: Buy cat treats that make a rattling noise when you shake the box. Let your cat associate it with the sound. If they are within earshot and don’t react to your call, chances are they will respond to the possibility of getting a good treat.
- Cats are creatures of habit: Choose a specific time to call her in and stick to the routine. Once cats are familiar with the pattern, they might just already be sitting in front of your door when you go to call them in.
- Routines: If you can see your cats, don’t chase them, even if they’ve heard you and don’t immediately react. Instead, leave the door open and leave for a minute to give them time to come in by themselves.
If you’re unwilling to let your pets roam freely outside, but don’t want to deny them the joy of engaging with nature, train them to walk on a leash with a harness. The younger they are, the more receptive they will be. However, if they stubbornly refuse to be taken on a leash, don’t force them.
Best compromise when letting your cat outside
Catio. “Catios”, or cat patios, are a good compromise between letting your cat outside and keeping them indoors: they are small enclosures, usually in the garden or backyard, that your cat can enjoy the outdoors in. Here are a few tips on how to design your cat’s catio:
- If you build the catio yourself, be diligent in choosing the right clawing resistant mesh.
- Depending on the catio’s size, you can fill it with cat trees and scratching posts, but make sure they’re either waterproof or otherwise get them inside when it rains.
- Build in a variety of shelves in various sizes and on different heights to give your pet several possibilities of enjoying the view.
- In winter, or when it’s colder, your cat may still be willing to enjoy the catio, if you cover the floor with fabric to protect their paws from frostbite and provide them with blankets and heating pads (see above) to stay warm while still getting some fresh air.
- Look into catio attachable outside windows, if you don’t have a backyard. They might be small, but can still provide your cat with lots of fresh air and a different view.
So if you want to take your furry friend outside, try and figure out what option will benefit you both most.
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