4 topics to think about if your cat goes outside

Outdoor cat
Outdoor cat having fun. Picture by Sa Ka from Pixabay.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Here are four topics to think about if your cat really wants to go outside and you accept it:

  1. Minimising outdoor risks;
  2. Prepare the outdoors for your cat;
  3. Advantages of going outdoors;
  4. Disadvantages of going outdoors.

Minimising outdoor risks and preparing the outdoors for your cat

There is an overlap between minimizing risks and preparing the outdoors for your cat so I’ll deal with them together. The point is that you can make your backyard or back garden a very attractive place for your cat companion. This will encourage them to stay there which in turn minimises risk of injury. Females in particular have small home ranges. A good backyard may be enough. An enclosure fence would be a bonus.

My cat enjoying his outside cat enclosure
My cat Gabriel in his garden cat enclosure. He is very active. Update: he escaped his enclosure and is now an indoor/outdoor cat 😎. Photo: Me.
  • I think that one of the important things to do is to erect a large cat platform, perhaps two of them, one near the house and one at the bottom of the garden where your cat can view his domain on the top level. Cats can spend hours doing this. Mine does. He might spend many hours at night on his cat tree, on the top level just watching and snoozing. It puts him outside but in a safe place.
  • Certain plants attract butterflies which can help stimulate your cat but it is advised not to use bird tables because, for the obvious reason your cat may attack the birds or at least try.
  • You can plant shrubs that provide shade in the hot weather. Cats like to find shady spots on cool ground to snooze and watch.
  • You can provide an area which contains a substrate of earth or perhaps mulch which your cat can use as a cat litter tray.
  • It might be useful to provide some sort of natural scratching post outside perhaps ornamental wooden fence posts on top of which you might place a platform. Cats like to mark their domain by scratching because in doing so they deposit scent and of course the scratch marks also are a marker that this is their home range.
  • I like to see my cat climb my cherry tree. I think you should plant a tree because it will provide a lot of pleasure to your cat and it makes your garden more attractive to him or her which keeps them there.
  • And finally, you might need a bowl of water outdoors in case your cat is thirsty.

The things you can do to minimise outdoor risks might include:

  • Ensuring that your cat comes on your call. You can encourage this behaviour by initially letting him out only before meals so that when he is hungry, he comes on your call.
  • Ensure that your cat is micro-chipped and perhaps also include a visual ID to a collar with a safety release.
  • Your cat should be spayed or neutered which stops them wandering less particularly for the males.
  • Ensure that they are inoculated against preventable diseases which they might pick up from other cats that they bump into on their travels.
  • Use regular protection against ticks and fleas. I have to say, though, that I do not give my cat spot-on flea treatments but I check him daily for fleas and he does not have any despite the fact that he catches mice. I don’t think that you automatically have to use these dangerous treatments provided you use a flea comb daily to check and comb out any fleas. If there is a problem then of course use an insecticide.
  • Another precaution is to ensure that your cat wears a reflective collar so that drivers can see him or her at night if they are near a road.
  • Remove toxic chemicals or plants.

RELATED: Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard and Simparica flea treatments might cause seizures in cats and dogs

Advantages of going outdoors

Gabriel outside when he was young
Gabriel outside when he was young. Image: MikeB
  • It’s a more natural existence to feel the sun, wind, rain, earth and grass beneath their paws and to smell those delicious scents that waft in on the breeze. This is all great mental stimulation.
  • The environment will provide challenges which is great also for mental stimulation.
  • Your cat will be able to do a bit of vermin control in your backyard.
  • Being outside provides a natural outlet for your cat’s natural behaviours.
  • Your cat will have much more opportunity to exercise which will help to keep him in good shape and at a proper weight.
  • Meeting other cat isn’t altogether a bad thing because it’s a part of natural behaviour and once again it can be stimulating for a cat.

Disadvantages of going outdoors

  • I guess these are pretty obvious. Firstly, there is the risk of road traffic injuries which is perhaps the biggest and most pressing problem when deciding to let your cat go outdoors. I believe that there is no possibility of this if you live near a main road.
  • There is a risk that your cat will get into a fight with another cat and suffer an abscess or injury
  • Life-threatening virus infections can be contracted from other cats.
  • Your cat might pick up fleas and other parasites.
  • They may get lost or wander too far and decide to keep wandering. Sometimes, rarely, domestic cats return to the wild following their wild cat ancestor instincts.
  • Your cat might decide to feed at a neighbour’s property and ultimately, they may end up remaining with your neighbour.
  • He may be stolen.
  • He may end up being trapped in an outhouse or perhaps stuck up a tree. Or he may climb into a vehicle and that vehicle may be driven off.
  • There is a risk of poisoning from eating poisoned rodents. My neighbour put down rat poison which caused a great argument between me and her. My cat caught a poisoned rat but didn’t eat it. He got that close to being killed by my neighbour.
  • Your cat may irritate your neighbours by wandering into the garden and onto their flowerbeds. You do not want friction with your neighbour.

RELATED: Outside Cat: Infected Abscesses on Paws, Head, and Stomach

Below are some more articles on indoor/outdoor cats.

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