Letting your cat go outside responsibly

For a lot of cat guardians, the choice as to whether you let your cat go outside or keep them inside all the time is binary. You let them out or you don’t. However, there is a third way which is to let your cat go outside in a responsible manner. I know that a lot of people wouldn’t agree with this because they’d say that letting your cat go outside unsupervised is automatically irresponsible. However, the well-known cat behaviourist, Jackson Galaxy, suggests some recommendations about letting cats go outside responsibly.

Bengal cat outdoors
Bengal cat outdoors. I think that cat guardians of Bengal cats have a heightened responsibility if their cat goes outside. Bengal cats are very active, fast and highly inquisitive and they look stunning making them vulnerable to being stolen. Picture in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The first and obvious responsibility to discharge is to make sure that your cat has proper identification. There are three major ways to do this and the first is the best which is microchipping. Another is a breakaway collar containing a tag with your cat’s name and details and thirdly tattooing the inside the ear flap which is quite rare but it is effective.

Cat identification
Cat identification

Also you have got to make sure that your cat is up to date on their vaccinations. There is obviously a greater chance of your cat acquiring a contagious disease when roaming outside because they might bump into another cat who is carrying a transmittable disease. I have to make the point, however, that in areas were there are many outside cats and all of them are vaccinated it does create a neutral zone where there were no transmittable diseases other than from feral cats. However, in many areas in the UK there are very few or no feral cats whatsoever.

There is an argument for only letting your cat go outside when you are at home so that if something happens to your cat needs you can react to the demand quickly. However, I am not sure that this is practical. It means locking up an indoor-outdoor cat all day while you are at work. This may be stressful for your cat and it may cause cystitis. Also how do you completely control the comings and goings of your cat?

Many people free-feed their cat particularly with dry cat food. If you create specific meal times for your cat it encourages them to come inside to eat because cats like routines. Mealtimes provide the responsible cat guardian with a measure of control over their outside cat.

Common sense dictates that outside cat owners need to have photographs of their cat so that when and if they become lost they can use the photographs in lost cat posters and flyers.

Finally, responsible cat guardians need to act responsibly with respect to how their wandering cat affects neighbours and their cats. Quite a lot of people don’t like domestic cats ‘trespassing’ onto their property. They may deal with the trespass in a sensible manner, perhaps by shooing the cat away. Or they may do something more extreme and break the law by harming your cat or kick up a fuss about it. You don’t want to get into a dispute with neighbours. It is something to be avoided at all costs and it should be a priority because living in harmony with your neighbours is very important to enhancing one’s lifestyle.

Therefore, if your cat is upsetting a neighbour she complains you should take steps to ameliorate the situation. You should not get into an argument about it. There is a responsibility on the owner of a wandering cat to take charge. If your neighbour also has a wandering cat there is a joint responsibility and a dispute is unlikely to occur. But if your neighbour has an indoor cat who is stressed by the presence of your cat and starts peeing inside your their home then it’s wise to look into this and try and find a solution.

Notwithstanding this statement, I freely admit that solutions can be hard to come by. But at least discussing the matter with your neighbour in an amicable manner will go a long way to resolving the problem.

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