5 Ways to Make The Great Outdoors Safe For Your Cat
Cats are curious, mischievous, athletic and sometimes even predatory by nature, so even the average suburban backyard is a wonderland full of adventures and antics for our kitty cats.
As benign as our gardens may seem to us, there are a number of hidden hazards just waiting to tempt our cats into trouble. In this article, we describe 5 actions that you can take to make your backyard safe and enjoyable for your furry friends.
1. Containment and Curfews
There are a number of valid reasons for keeping your cat contained on your property instead of roaming the neighbourhood. The risks of wildlife harm, fighting with other cats or being hit by a car are well documented.
Subsequently, some cat owners prefer to keep their cats indoors and many cats are content with this lifestyle (provided they have a view from a window and a warm sunny spot to lie in).
However other cat owners don’t wish to deny their pets access to the sun, fresh air and green grass.
Thankfully there are solutions available for keeping cats both indoors and outdoors without compromising their health and safety.
Cat enclosures have become more sophisticated and affordable in recent years.
It is possible to have netting installed from your roof eaves to your fence line, allowing your cat the freedom to roam your property without escaping.
Another option is to install PVC piping or a moveable fixture above your fence to prevent cats from being able to jump over.
There are businesses in Perth that can provide a quote and install these solutions for you, ranging from a smaller cat run in the yard to full netting surrounding the house.
Although not a legal requirement, it is generally considered to be good practice to curfew your cat after dark. Cats are nocturnal creatures and their instinct is to roam and hunt at night. By bringing your cat indoors at night you are ensuring the safety of both your cat and the native wildlife in the vicinity.
Cats enjoy having a routine and they will adapt quickly if you provide mental stimulation and enrichment within their indoor environment or outdoor enclosure. Spend some extra time interacting with your cat and introduce new toys, games and scratching posts to help distract them from wanting to go outside at night.
2. Vaccinations and Parasite Prevention
Regardless of whether or not your cat is an indoor or an outdoor cat, annual vaccinations are essential.
Cats generally become infected with respiratory diseases by close contact with other cats, however it can also be spread via contaminated food bowls, bedding, litter trays or human hands.
As a general rule, indoor cats should be protected with an annual F4 vaccination to protect them against Feline Panleukopenia, Cat Flu and Chlamydophila.
3. Plant Toxicity
Know which plants are poisonous to cats. According to the RSPCA, the most common garden flowers and plants to avoid include Aloe Vera, Lilies, Bird of Paradise, Cyclamen, Dracaena and even Daffodils.
For the full list visit RSPCA Victoria here.
Signs your cat may have ingested toxic plant material include vomiting, lethargy, drooling and seizures.
If you suspect that your cat may have eaten or come into contact with a poisonous plant, take them to the vet immediately. If possible, take some of the plant with you including the chewed-up matter.
The good news is that there are several cat-friendly plants that you can add to your garden including catnip, lemongrass, peppermint and chamomile. What better way to create a natural home-grown paradise for your cat?
4. Chemicals and Poisons
Ensure that items such as rat and snail baits, garden pesticides and fertilisers are stored in a shed or a locked cupboard.
Cats are notoriously adept at learning how to open cupboards and reach high shelves, so securing poisons safely is essential.
5. Environmental Enrichment
Provide sand for digging, shady spots for summer and shelter in winter. Toys and scratching posts are ideal boredom busters for cats confined within enclosures. You may even decide to adopt a feline friend for your cat to play with!
If your cat does not have access into and out of the house via a cat door, make sure that they have free access to food and water via an outside bowl or drinking fountain.
Having cats in your household does present challenges when trying to juggle safety and social responsibility, while still giving your cat the life they deserve.
By taking steps to make the garden a safe place for your cat, you will have peace of mind and your kitty will be free to play, investigate or simply soak up the sun’s rays on a warm spring day. Enjoy!