There are many good reasons to not permit your cat to roam. Dangers they face are cars, humans, dogs, cat fights, snakes, ticks, sunburn to name a few. Cats can also be a nuisance to neighbours. They may go to the toilet in their garden, kill smaller pets and generally cause resentment if found wandering in neighbours gardens.
A safe compromise is to supply your cat with a cat enclosure. There are many types available and they come in all shapes and sizes. If you are not in a position to install an enclosure then another way to give your cat some exposure to the great outdoors is to put them on a harness. Training a cat to use a harness should begin at a young age and not all cats will accept one. But patience often does pay off.
If neither of the above is practical don’t worry, cats can quite happily live indoors only as long as they are provided with enough stimulation.
Be careful when you have tradesmen to your house as even if you remind them to keep doors closed, they often forget. I find the best method to keep cats contained when you have workmen over is to lock them up in a bedroom with a litter tray, food, and water.
All cats should have some form of identification. The best and most reliable method is a microchip. A small microchip, the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the skin by either your veterinarian or an authorised implanter. If your cat accidentally gets out and is lost, and is surrendered to a vet or shelter, they will be able to scan your cat and if it has a microchip, obtain your contact details and reunite you with your cat. Remember to update your contact details if you move house or change phone numbers.
Cat collars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Cats are at risk of strangulation if they become snagged on something (for example a tree branch). There are two types of collars available for cats. The first (and most common) has an elasticated strip which stretches to allow your cat to slip out should it become snagged. Then there are the cat safety collars. These types of collars will break if enough pressure is applied, which greatly reduce the chance of choking. The safety collars are the best type to use on your cat.
Never use collars designed for dogs on your cat. These typically don’t have the safety clasp or elastic strip and therefore can pose a danger if your cat gets snagged as it won’t offer the opportunity for your cat to slip out of the collar.
Cats and children
Little children love cats, but they often don’t know their own strength. Always supervise children under 5 with a cat. Teach them to always sit down when they are interacting with the cat. They should never be permitted to pick up a cat and should be taught to respect a cat’s feelings. If a cat wants attention, it will come to the child. Don’t let a child pester a cat who obviously wants to be left alone. I have heard of incidents where a kitten was killed when a young child placed it in a blanket box and sat on the box. Another incident involved a young kitten being placed down a toilet by a child. This is why constant supervision is an absolute must with young children and cats.
Teach older children how to hold a cat:
- Place one hand underneath the cat
- Place the other cat around the side of the cat, close to your chest
The above method ensures that the cat is properly supported. If a cat begins to struggle, the child should be taught to immediately let the cat go. A struggling cat can inflict some nasty scratches.
Cat-proofing the home
The house is a source of many dangers to cats. Common areas of concern include;
Kitchen (stove, indiscriminate eating), laundry (where lots of poisons are commonly stored), blind cords, electrical cords. Treat your cat as you would a toddler and keep any possible dangers in a locked cupboard.
Christmas trees are another danger, especially tinsel that can cause choking and blockages in cats. If you have a cat, don’t use tinsel on your tree. Fresh Christmas trees drop needles, these should be picked up immediately.
Always keep washing machine and tumble dryer doors closed and CHECK before you start these appliances.
Keep toilet lids down, many cats have drowned in a toilet.
Feeding cooked bones
Bones are great for dental care, they help keep your cat’s teeth clean and free of plaque and tartar. However, cats should only have raw bones as cooked bones are very dry and brittle and can easily become lodged in your cat’s throat or if swallowed, cause injury internally.
Feeding your cat
Your cat is not a waste disposal unit. If food is unfit for you to eat, it is unfit for your cat to eat. They are also susceptible to food poisoning such as salmonella.
Proper food safety is a must. If you open a can of cat food and don’t use it all, refrigerate immediately and use within 24 hours, the same applies to raw food. Keep refrigerated.
Many foods that are safe for humans to eat are poisonous to cats. Some include; alcohol, avocado, chocolate, coffee, grapes, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, and onion.
Do not feed your cat dog food or a vegetarian diet. Cats have very specific nutritional requirements and should be fed a well-balanced, cat diet.
There are lots of common household products that can be poisonous to cats.
- Medicines. Ingestion of these may be accidental or deliberate. Deliberate as in humans medicating cats without veterinary supervision. There are many medicines that are perfectly safe to humans that are fatal to cats. Never self-medicate any animal.
- Common poisons found around the house and garden that can be fatal to cats include; bleach, turpentine, lead, motor oil, cosmetics, herbicides, snail and slug pellets, antifreeze. This list is by no means exclusive, there are many other possible poisons.
- Flea medication is another common problem if not given correctly. Never use dog flea products on cats. These commonly contain pyrethrin or pyrethroid which is deadly. When using flea products on your cat, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always give the correct dose for your cat.
- Houseplants are another common source of poisoning in cats. Make sure you only have plants in your home that are non-toxic to cats. There is a list at the end of the article of plants that are poisonous to cats and plants that are non-poisonous to cats. Lilies, in particular, are deadly, even a small nibble is enough to kill a cat.
Windows and balconies
Many owners don’t believe their cat would jump from an open window and typically they won’t deliberately leap from a great height. However, it is possible for a cat to become fixated on a bird or other object and leap without realising or accidentally slip and fall.
High rise syndrome relates to a collection of injuries sustained by an animal who falls from a substantial height (usually greater than 2 stories) such as a balcony or window. Every year, the summer months see a rise in deaths and serious injuries as cats fall from unscreened balconies and windows which have been left accessible to cats by owners who open them to enjoy the weather.
- Place screens on all windows and balconies which cats have access to.
- Check screens are still fit well and have no holes your cat can get through.
- If you have friends or tradesmen open, be extra diligent to ensure they don’t accidentally let your cat out.