Anyone who owns a cat isn’t under the misconception that we actually own a cat. We have roommates. Adorable, fluffy roommates that we want to keep safe, and that usually means keeping our feline friends inside. Most cats are content to remain inside and observe the outer world through the windows of their warm, comfortable home. Others, however, are adamant about being free to roam the “wilds” of their neighborhood. We want our cats to be happy and safe. If the only way for Snowball to be happy is to have access to the yard, here are some tips to increase her safety while she prowls the outdoors.
1. Take a trip to the vet first!
This is necessary for any responsible pet owner, but especially true for outside cats. If Snowball plans on adventuring, she should be spayed. This will help prevent her from getting unwanted attention from other cats, and will decrease aggressive behavior that may get her in trouble.
She also needs to be up-to-date on her shots. Although all cats are at risk for contracting diseases, outside cats have more exposure to things that could negatively affect their health and quality of life. Regularly check for fleas, ticks, and worms. Vaccinations will protect Snowball from transferable diseases that these little creatures carry.
The social cliques outside aren’t always friendly, as well. Feral cats, rodents, and larger predators could injure your beloved kitty, so have your vet’s contact information readily available. Know where your pet carrier is in case you have to move fast in an emergency.
2. Get a collar with a personalized tag
You won’t always be the one to find your cat. It might be a neighbor, a passerby, or someone unsettlingly far away, like a few streets down. So make it easy for Snowball’s new human friend to contact you. Get her a collar with your contact information and vet’s phone number on it.
As always, make sure that the collar fits her snugly. You should be able to slip no more than two fingers under her collar. A loose collar is dangerous for an outside cat. It can snag and trap her on something, or she could slip her front leg through it, decreasing her mobility and making her more vulnerable to injury.
This is an easy and effective option for your cat. It’s another layer of protection in place if your little swashbuckler travels too far and can’t find her way back in time for dinner.
According to WebMD, less than 2% of cats that end up in shelters are reclaimed by their owners. You can easily beat this statistic by having a microchip implanted. It is no more painful than a pinch! Some cats don’t even react to this procedure, which is finished within seconds.
Note, however, that microchips only work if she’s picked up and placed in a veterinary office or an animal shelter’s care. They will scan the chip and get your latest registration information from there. If you move or change your phone number, please remember to update that information!
4. Get a cat door
Or leave a window open, but always give your cat access to the indoors. This has its own domestic dangers, such as waking up to find a mouse on your pillow, but Snowball needs to think of your home as her base. If she can come home at any hour to eat and snuggle, she is less likely to stray elsewhere to find shelter and food.
Above all, definitely don’t expect your cat to adhere to a curfew!
5. Don’t feed your cat outside
If you’re reluctant to have surprise visitors at your back door, such as stray cats or even stray raccoons, keep that rich cat food inside the house and away from the noses of wilder animals. Snowball doesn’t want to jockey for a position at the dinner table with aggressive strangers, and you want to keep her as safe as possible.
None of these tips are 100% guaranteed to keep your outside cat out of danger. Nothing can do that. But they will increase the odds in her favor. As any cat owner knows, cats will do what they want, when they want. We can only help them do it more safely!
How do you manage your outside cat?
If you have any additional suggestions or even exceptions to these tips, comment below and let us know. The well-being of your pets and ours is always of interest to us!
About Michele Sarver
Michele is the Owner & Founder of Totally Tails Pet Care Services. A Pet Sitting and Dog Walking business serving Stanwood, Camano Island and Arlington, WA areas.