Outdoor Cat: How To Keep Them From Running Away
For cat owners, there's something undeniably enchanting about the idea of an outdoor cat. Outdoor cats love exploring the world, basking in the warm sunshine, and experiencing the thrill of freedom.
However, the unfortunate reality is that allowing your beloved feline friend to roam outdoors unsupervised can pose various risks. These risks include the possibility of them running away.
The instinctual nature of cats, combined with their curiosity and territorial behaviour, makes them prone to wanderlust. Therefore, they often stray far from their home, searching for new adventures.
As a responsible cat owner, it's essential to balance allowing your outdoor kitty to enjoy their time outside while ensuring their safety and minimising the chances of them getting lost.
In this blog post, we will delve into effective strategies and practical tips to help keep your outdoor cat from running away.
Why Do Outdoor Cats Run Away?
Cats might want to run away for a variety of reasons.
Even indoor cats could take advantage of a clear window or an open door to sneak out to the great outdoors.
Sadly, some cats might not return home and end up on the busy streets or at a shelter.
Pet owners can find plenty of ways to stop this by understanding what might trigger a beloved pet to flee.
We listed 5 of the most common reasons below:
- During the mating season, cats who have not been spayed or neutered will inevitably search for a mate nearby.
Some might travel further afield to fulfil their drive to reproduce if they cannot find one close.
- An outside cat will want to explore new surroundings in order to grow their territory.
- Cats may go to the outside world for a lengthy hunting expedition if they believe there isn't enough to hunt nearby.
- Cats are innately inquisitive creatures who like learning about the outdoor environment. Then again, they might encounter potential dangers on the streets or get lost.
- If they sense danger, domestic cats may flee the house. Sudden loud noises, the arrival of a new cat or child, or a natural calamity might cause this.
Benefits and Risks of the Outdoors
Having your cat venture out into the world has a lot of advantages, and here are some of the benefits:
1. Plenty of Exercise for a Healthy Life
Due to the abundance of activities outside, cats that live outside are significantly less prone to gain weight.
Cats would spend their free time climbing, running, and exploring—all of which are great for physical fitness.
2. Mental Stimulation
Spending time outdoors helps your feline with mental stimulation.
This is mainly because there are a lot of sounds, sights, and smells to pique their senses.
It also aids in offering an escape from any possible tensions in an enclosed area.
3. Express Their Natural Instinct
A cat ventures outside because it’s natural to do so. The ability to express their natural behaviours is one of the main advantages of allowing a cat to have outdoor access.
They can roam the area, hunt small animals, and scratch on trees, which could save your couch.
4. Reduce Aggression or Hostility
The vast playground of nature becomes an outlet for your Fluffy Friend’s energy as they hunt, explore, get fresh air, and bask in the sun's warmth.
Venturing into the open world grants house cats a great way to experience independence and freedom. In this way, your kitty can alleviate any pent-up frustration that may otherwise manifest as aggression indoors.
By immersing themselves in an enriched environment, they experience a healthier mental and emotional balance. Therefore, they can bond harmoniously with their cat parent and furry siblings.
5. The World Is Their Litter Box
Owners who don't want to devote much time cleaning a litter box think it’s a good idea for cats to have some time outdoors. Many cats used to living outside will merely relieve themselves outside.
However, some cats will prefer the convenience of a litter box. Thus, they’ll come inside to use their litter boxes, especially during rainy or cold weather.
On the other hand, there are also outdoor dangers for cats. Let’s check out the common risks:
1. Risk of Accidents
There’s a higher risk for kitties under one year of age to run into cars. They’re more likely to be aware of the risks as they age.
During winter or the cold months, cats frequently sleep on top of tires or beneath car bonnets, especially if the engine has just stopped and the inside is still warm.
2. Risk of Getting Lost
If your cat isn't especially familiar with their surroundings, there’s a good chance for them to get lost. A missing cat is always devastating for pet parents.
3. Risk of Poisoning
People often use chemicals in gardens like slug pellets, rodenticides, or antifreeze.
Curious cats might ingest these poisons and may end up being sick or, worse, dead.
Additionally, there are multiple hazardous plants around that your kitty might want to eat.
4. Risk of Exposure to Diseases
Cats used to the outdoors have a higher chance of getting diseases from other stray cats. There’s also an increased risk of contracting ticks, fleas, or worms.
5. Risk of Fights
Outdoor cats are always at risk of encountering neighbourhood or feral cats. If you’ve recently moved to a new home, the neighbourhood cats may show aggression toward your pet.
Fighting is more likely to occur in populated places because each cat's territory borders those of other community cats.
Tips on Keeping Your Outdoor Cat Safe
It makes sense that you would want to ensure your feline is safe outdoors as a pet owner. Here are some tried-and-tested tips on keeping your outdoor cat safe:
1. Keep Vaccinations Updated
The first step is to keep your cat's vaccines up to date. For your peace of mind, give them flea and deworming treatments regularly.
When travelling to the vet for your tabby’s vaccines, it’s a good idea to have a car seat cover to protect your interior from fur.
2. Invest in a Cat Flap
Installing a cat door or flap is crucial if no one is home during the day.
This can give access to your cat should they need to go inside or outside.
You can get ones that are designed to open for your cat's microchip if you're worried that other cats in your neighbourhood might get in.
3. Consider Getting Your Cat Microchipped
Outdoor cats should be microchipped.
A microchip will significantly improve your chances of finding your cat again if they get lost. Whoever discovers your cat only needs to bring them to the veterinarian to get the chip scanned and retrieve your contact information.
4. Neuter or Spay Your Cat
Neutering is for male cats, while spaying is for female cats. Generally speaking, spaying or neutering your cat is a good idea if they want to go outdoors.
Remember that intact felines are more likely to spend much time wandering farther from home to search for mates. This raises the possibility of unintended pregnancy and unwanted cats.
5. Keep Them Comfortable Indoors
The best way to keep your feline indoors is to ensure they have everything they need inside the house.
Keeping outdoor cats from running away requires careful planning, providing a safe environment, and establishing a strong bond with your feline companion.
While outdoor exploration can be enriching for cats, it also poses multiple risks. Remember, each cat is unique, and their tolerance for outdoor activities may vary.
Still, always prioritise your cat's safety and well-being, and be prepared to adjust your approach based on their individual needs.
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