Keeping your Outdoor Cat Safe

Summer is well on its way in Canada, and our cats are eyeing the door. Although keeping Kitty indoors is the best way to keep her safe, not all cats accept an indoor-only life. We cannot control all of the dangers that our outdoor cats face. However, there are a few steps that we can take to keep our beloved felines as safe as possible. Let’s take a look !

Identification

The first thing to consider before letting your cat out is identification. Without proper identification, your cat could easily be mistaken for a stray. I suggest two methods of identification to help ensure, as much as possible, that your kitty comes home.

1-) Microchip your cat. Microchipping is a sure-fire way to identify a pet whether they are an indoor only or outdoor pet. The microchip can be read by a shelter in case your pet ever ends up on the wrong side of the door.

2-) Provide your cat with a collar.  Although a cat is microchipped, I suggest fitting any outdoor cat with a collar. It can be the cat’s fashion statement and an obvious sign that she already has a forever home. A reflective collar with bell can also help you locate her. The belled collar won’t, however, prevent your cat from hunting!

Vaccines

Disease is one of the dangers that your outdoor cat can face. Therefore, it is important to keep up with an outdoor cat’s vaccines and bring her for regular vet check-ups.

Speak to your vet about which vaccines your cat needs for your geographical area and your cat’s activities (indoor or outdoor), age, and breed. Remember to ask about flea control!

Feline Family planning

The best way to keep the euthanasia rate down is to avoid unplanned kittens. Before you let your cat out to explore the neighbourhood, it’s a good idea to have your pet neutered.

Spaying or neutering cats at an appropriate age also has other benefits that contribute to the welfare of your cat.  Neutering has also been shown to reduce or eliminate aggressive behaviour as well as decrease the risks for certain types of illness in both male and female cats.

Train your cat

Now that your cat is ready for the great outdoors, you may want to train her to come home before she goes exploring.

Since cats are generally motivated by food, establishing a regular feeding time will help you train your cat to come home when you want her to. Start regular feedings before you let her out so that she knows when to expect food. Hence, when she does go out, your cat  will be motivated to return home at the same time every day for her meal.

Another approach is to train your cat to come on command. Again, calling her and rewarding her with her favourite treat can help you accomplish this. Your call followed by the sound of the treat bag will help kitty associate the call with the reward of coming when called.