I am surprised that most people will go to any means possible to keep their children and dogs safe inside their yard, but won’t give it a second thought when it comes to their cat. It can be done, and has been done successfully by many people already.
I would like to focus on cats, and keeping them safe in today’s society, with all the awful things happening out there. We will look at reasons for containment, ways, and practical suggestions to help you keep your cat safe.
How do I do it?
As a foster mom, I sometimes do home checks of potential adopters, and find that despite the perils of the great outdoors, people still allow their cats to roam.
I have been strongly criticised for being of the opinion that cats need to be safe, in your yard and/or home. My own cats are prevented from leaving our yard with 9 ft walls and a petsafe electric fence on top. Trees are regularly trimmed and wrapped in plastic, so that they cannot be climbed, and allow kitties access to the outside. At night, the routine is to bring everyone inside, safe for the night. No one has access to the front yard.
We have done this since 2010. Some of our windows and safety doors have mesh over them, allowing us to open them, during this time, to let air in but kitties are unable to get out.
I could not sleep, or leave home, without knowing that I have done my best to keep my kitties safe.
Why keep cats contained in a safe space?
Let’s face it, we live in a cruel, unforgiving and sick world. If you are on social media, follow the news, or just use Google, you should by now have been wholy terrified by the autrocities being committed against pets.
Keeping your cat contained will greatly extend their lifespan. They will be safe from cat fight wounds, infections and abscesses, and save you on vet bills.
Worse than cat bites, are the viral infections that go along with it. Feline Aids (FiV), Feline Leukemia (FeLV), and on rare occassions rabies, to name but a few. Some diseases are spread by close contact alone, Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Parasites, such as worms, fleas, and ticks are another danger outdoor cats are exposed too. They also bring them home, and expose your family to these parasites. Keeping your kitties contained will save on flea treatments and vet visits. Your yard will become “pest free”. From 2010 to 2012, I regularly deflead and dewormed my clowder. Somewhere in this time, I realised that there are no fleas on my kitties. The annual “flea gathering” at my house, never happened again. I now use deflea treatments about 3 times a year, and deworm only 2x a year.
I only vaccinate once every three years, as my cats have no exposure to unvaccinated animals (the fosters are all vaccinated and unvaccinated kittens are quarentened till they have been vaccinated.)
Cats have not attended traffic school and are not familiar with cars. You may think that your kitty is street- savvy, be assured they can just as easily be a victim. They can also be distracted, chase something or be chased, and then get hit by a car.
Poisons are another danger outdoor cats are exposed too. On a daily basis, your cat will encounter poisonous chemicals like insecticides, rodenticides, and fertilizers. Pesticides are the most dangerous because they are sweetened or scented to attract pests and cats are often the unintended victims. This can include, but not limited too, lawn fertilizer, snail bait, rat poison, ant bait, antifreeze and even fresh paint.
Your cat may be a predator, but can also be the prey. Depending on the area you reside in, cats can easily fall prey to the local wild life predators such as jackal, caracal, snakes, or any other bigger and stronger predator.
By keeping your cat inside, you extend its life span, save on vet bills, have peace of mind, and as a result, you will also find you cat become a lot more loving and a real home body.
How to prevent your cat from leaving your yard.
Now that we have looked at the “why”, let us look at the “how”.
We will explore some practical ideas to “cat proof” your property, and keep your cat safe.
Build a Catio.
A catio can be made of metal, wood or any other durable material. Just make sure materials used are non toxic and free from sharp edges. It can be attached to your house, with access through a window or cat flap, or a seperate enclosure on the property.
A Catio can be a simple window box, or a large enclosure, with, or without grass, or a small box with grass. Wheat grass purchased in the veggie department of your local supermarket, make a safe alterntive to grass, for cats to nibble on. You can put cat furniture, litterboxes and other items in the catio, to keep it interesting for your cat.
With some simple pieces of wood, it can be a nice DIY project for a week- end. I am lucky that hubby is very handy and very good at working with metal.
Fence your yard.
Yes, it can be done. I have found some very practical ideas on Google, to demonstrate this point.
Even if you start with just a portion of your yard cordoned off, for the cats, it will be better than letting them roam freely.
Ideas range from high walls (above 6ft), with pet- safe electric fencing on top. If needed, raise your fence. Attach rotating pipes, gutter pipes or spinning paddles to existing walls. Angled fencing on top of an existing wall, is just as effective and can also be done by yourself. Small plastic spikes, can be fastened to the top of the wall, and won’t hurt the cat, but deter it from jumping. I have never tried these, but do feel free to use your own discretion.
If you apply your mind, and think as though you are making your house and yard safe for a baby, the same apply for a kitty. Keep certain areas closed off, to prevent cats from access to unsafe areas, or areas with access to the dangerous outdoors.
Click here for some easy ideas to prevent your cat from leaving your yard.
A product, which I am not familiar with, is the wireless, or invisible fence. It works with soundwaves, to deter your pet from leaving a certain area of your property. Your cat has to wear a collar, which will make an uncomfortable noise, when the cat comes to close to the perimeter you determined. No fence necesarily needed. I would think it is better to use this in conjunction with a fence. Some of these products use “sensations” in stead of uncomfortable sounds. Note that you use these products at your own discretion.
In conjuction with a fence, try planting certain species of plants. Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme — so plant a few of these throughout the garden space. Cats do not like strong citrus cents or the scent of human hair. Click here for practical applications.
If you really cannot apply any of the above, try creating a routine for your cat.
For example, a lick of wet food in the morning to make sure they “check in” and again in the evening. Once they are in for the evening, close them in, until the morning. Yes, you can do it and your cat will not be harmed. Cats do not have free will, and do not know that it is not good for them roam, exposed to all sorts of dangers.
Create entertainment for your cats, toys, boxes, and scratchies to amuse them. Use catnip liberally. Cats are crepsecular and are most active at dusk and dawn anyway. Most cats will adapt to living indoors. If your cat has difficulty adjusting, start by gradually increasing the time they spend indoors. Start with a part of the evening, gradually increasing the time.
You do not need to spend lots of money to keep you cat safe either. Be creative and maybe ask for help from friends, or in your community groups. Form a team that will help everyone in the group to keep their cats safe, and enclosed. Use everyone’s skills.
Last but not least, invest in a good quaility cat harnass. Acclimatise your cat to the harnass from a young age. With patience and persistance, and older kitty will also get used to it.
Here is more information, to get your imagination jogging on how to keep your cat safe.
By now you will realise the point is that cats do not need to roam outdoors to be happy. Provide in their basic needs at home, and they can live longer and healthier lives, when safely confined.
I cannot see any other answer to the question of confinement, but that it is a necessity.
Finally, be safe, keep your cats safe, and do not ROAM.