Have you ever wondered why some of your neighbours keep their cats in and others are supporters of letting their cats stay out? On the whole, can letting your cat out bring more joy into your feline’s life?
As you should be aware of some of the obvious risks associated with such practise, there are many other reasons favouring it. We have compiled a list of reasons for and against those two approaches and highlighted the preventative measures that should be taken when you decide to let your cat out. Enjoy your read!
Benefits Of Letting Your Cat Stay And Explore The Great Outdoors:
Territory – Your feline will gain a lot more space. This will also differentiate the environment they live in allowing for a contrast between outdoors and indoors.
Interest – Do not forget about your cat’s innate curiosity. Cats like to discover and frequently change their favourite locations. The great outdoors equals all sorts of new things to try out and discover! Different sounds, textures, smells, tastes and the views. All to be explored instead of simply watching from far through the window.
Oh yes, the world out there is always changing. This creates a natural stimulation for your feline which sharpens his senses. Many types of beautiful and colourful plants are giving away wonderful smells and attracting insects, rodents and birds your cat can spy on and hunt for. There is plenty of grass to nibble on which supplements his domesticated diet and even cleans out and gets rid of some hair swallowed and stuck down their digestive system during grooming.
Health – Exercising outdoors improves your cat’s agility. Jumping, running, climbing fences and trees as well as hunting wildlife keeps your cats lean and tones up his muscles. A great level of stamina will build up your cat’s resistance to fatigue and lower the chances of him falling ill. Do not forget about the joy and satisfaction your cat will get after an afternoon spent in the great outdoors!
Escape – On some occasions your cat will feel the need for personal space. When his usual territory gets invaded by unfamiliar visitors (family members, friends or neighbours). Outdoors, however, can provide an non-invaded oasis that can be easily accessed by a cat flap.
However, be sure not to underestimate the Potential Risks of letting your cat outside, such as:
Injuries – Cats can be at a risk of injury after contact with other cats, dogs or other animals. Statistic show that cats often get injured or even killed on the road, especially the young and inexperienced ones. While more incidents take place at night, it is important you keep your cat in after dawn to minimise the risk of this occurrence.
You can put measures in place to prevent your cat from leaving the house after a certain time, some microchip cat flaps have this safety function built-in.
Parasites and Disease – Keeping your cat indoors gives you control over the type and amount of food consumed throughout the day. Staying outdoors increases the risk of your cat contracting a disease from the outside world as well as contact with other cats or insects.
Your cat may happen to nibble on some food found outside or left on the bowl by your neighbour which is shared by the stray cats. The best way to prevent your cat from being infested by parasites, such as fleas, internal worms or ticks is to contact your vet to apply appropriate vaccination and other preventative measures.
Loss – Leaving your cat outdoors puts your cat at danger or going missing. Some can simply get lost whilst endeavouring to mark a newly discovered area, others can get trapped somewhere in the shed, fence or a garden.
Make sure your cat is microchipped as some people will hand the ‘stray’ cats to the animal charities. Microchipping will allow for a quick check at the local veterinary practice that can help find the owner and locate cat’s home ensuring the cat’s safety.
Toxic substances – Your cat may want to have a taste of your garden goods. If you decide to keep your cat out, make sure you do not spray garden chemicals or other rodent poisons. They should be kept out of reach so your cat does not get lured into them. Not only outdoor plants can be harmful for your feline so it is best to do sufficient research on the plants and keep the ones that are harmless to your pet.
How To Minimise The Risks:
Vaccinate – Keep an updated register of all vaccinations and worm treatments.
Insurance – This doesn’t really minimise the risks, but insuring your cat does give you a piece of mind as you know you’ll be covered if something happens to your cat.
Microchipping – Recent changes in UK legislation enforces all dog owners to microchip their pets. The numerous benefits of microchipping are ever more seen among cat owners. This permanent way of pet identification proves to be by far a lot safer and reliable than traditional collars with tags, microchips will help find your feline quick. Remember to keep your contact details updated.
GPS Tracking devices – Having gained more popularity over the past years, those collar-fitted tracking gadgets allow you to locate your feline. When deciding upon the most suitable one, take into account the battery life, source of tracking data and the range. The Tractive GPS Pet Tracker is a popular product cat owners like to use.
Indoors at night – Take turns. Let your cat outdoors during daytime and keep him in at night. For increased safety, a fluorescent collar will help him get noticed on the road during winter time when days are significantly shorter.
Neuter – Whether a male or a female, neutering reduces roaming. Cats that have not been neutered may be looking for a partner and can be victim of cat fights, leading to suffering from various infections or injuries.
No Bird Nests – Leaving bird food in your garden will no longer be a good idea once you decide to let your cat out as this may entice your feline to discover his love and passion for hunting wildlife.
You do not want your cat to be making a meal of birds in your precious garden! Remember, things can get worse if he starts bringing dead animals back home and proudly shows his trophy to you!
Garden Plants – Depending on the size and utility of your garden, you can introduce some level of changes to its structure by planting the non-toxic plants and eliminating the ones that pose threat to your feline’s well-being. Researching harmful plant types and acidic substances online will be a good starting point and will leave you more knowledgeable and prepared for the unexpected.
Fencing your garden – Concerns about providing a safe area designated for your cat can be eliminated by enclosing your garden. A high, over 2 metre long fence with a hedge within immediate vicinity will keep your cat within garden area.
You can also apply taut wire or locate strings on top of the fence for additional discouragement. It is a win-win situation for you two. Cat gets to enjoy staying outdoors whilst you do not feel anxious about keeping him out.
Outdoor cat houses also provides a shelter for your cat to play in or retreat to, if you really want a safe option then you should consider an outdoor cat house with microchip cat flap. Otherwise you can just choose the other solid cat houses.
According to the portal International Cat Care, only a tenth of cats are believed to be living indoors permanently. The significant number of households will allow their feline to pass his play time outdoors.
Although keeping your cat indoors may be safer, the indoor cats have a tendency to be more prone to developing and consequently suffering from behavioural problems as opposed to the ones allowed outside which enjoy freedom.
The overall decision should be made upon taking all the above factors into account and it lies in securing the outdoor area as well as cat’s personality, health condition, age, agility, past experiences and owner’s preference.