Regardless of the reasons why you have decided that, instead of staying safely indoors, your cat will be allowed to roam outside, you might still be concerned about his or her wellbeing, health and safety.
In this article you will learn eight things to keep in mind when letting a cat outside.
- Feed your cat on a schedule. First, it gives you control over when your cat comes home, allowing you to manage his safety, predict habits, free yourself from worries, and interact with your cat on a regular basis. Second, observing your cat’s eating habits lets you detect any problems (e.g., appetite loss, greedy eating) as soon as they appear. These are much harder to notice if your cat eats whenever he wants and the bowl is always full. Besides these benefits for outdoor cats, scheduled feeding has other positive aspects too.
- Keep your cat inside at night. Even though cats see well in the dark, they still have a lesser chance of noticing any danger approaching than they do during the day. Your cat can become dazzled by headlights, and he is invisible to drivers. Wild animals that can harm or kill a cat, such as foxes and raccoons, are also more active at night. Make it a habit to feed your cat late in the evening, and do not let him outside afterwards. Consider using a similar strategy for the most active traffic hours or other moments when your cat might be exposed to greater risk outside.
- Get your cat a form of identification. Put a collar with an ID tag that includes your phone number on your cat in case he gets lost and someone finds him. Note that the collar must fit perfectly and should have a safety-release feature, which prevents a cat from getting stuck and strangled. Additionally (not alternatively), a microchip will ensure your reunion in case the cat tears off the tag and ends up in a shelter. Stories pop up on a regular basis about pets being found hundreds of miles away from home and reuniting with their owners because of being microchipped.
- Neuter or spay your cat. Most cat roaming and fighting occurs due to searching for partners and mating, especially for male cats. Therefore, neutered or spayed cats are significantly less likely to get into trouble outside. There are other benefits of having your cat neutered as well.
- Keep up with vaccines and preventive medicine. Even though both indoor and outdoor cats must be dewormed and vaccinated regularly, outdoor cats are under a greater risk of catching a disease or becoming infested. More contact with other cats or other animals and frequent hunting increase the likelihood of becoming unwell. Keep your pet vaccinated against the core diseases, discussed with your veterinarian, and treated for possible parasite infestations—it is your best shot at keeping your pet healthy.
- Visit your veterinarian regularly. Since the risk of becoming ill or injured is greater and since cats are great at masking their weaknesses, it is recommended to take your cat on well visits to the vet at least once a year. You will be able to expose hidden problems, catch diseases early in their development and increase the chance of successful treatment. A healthy cat is more likely to survive outdoors.
- Let your cat outside under controlled circumstances. There are many ways one can provide regular, safe outdoor access to an indoor cat. A few options are to build an outdoor enclosure or to walk your cat on a leash. You can turn your outdoor cat into an indoor one, but keep the safe part of the outdoors accessible. Of course, it requires work, but maybe your cat deserves it. If so, you can learn about safe outdoor access for indoor cats here.
There is no doubt that an indoor environment is safer for a cat; although, being outdoors can provide a series of benefits, given the neighborhood is not too urban. Hopefully, this article will let anyone who has decided to let their cat roam outside do so in the safest possible way.