When I was a kid – we had farm cats. If they killed mice, they were called “mousers” and lived in the barn. If they didn’t kill mice, they became pets. But – ALL of them lived outside. They all had a lifespan of about 7 years.
These days, however, it’s not unusual for cats to live in excess of 20 years! How is this so? It’s due to better care, and the fact that cats are actually seen as companions. As our companions, we take much better care of the little beasts than we ever did of the farm cats.
The debate about whether or not to allow cats outside is ongoing. Sure, the wide, wide world is a dangerous place. But for those who would want to allow their cats to go outside, are there any safety precautions? There are, in fact, a few things you can do to keep your cat safer when it goes outside.
- It’s safer not to let your cat out at night. Yes, they are nocturnal animals, but turning a cat loose at night actually makes it more vulnerable to traffic accidents. Have you ever seen your cat freeze in the street when it see’s car lights? It’s the same response you see with deer – the old “deer in the headlights” look. Cats are predators, and when they can’t see, they’ll freeze until the threat is over. Night time is the deadliest for cats, for this reason.
- If you live in the country, your cat is not any safer at night. Sure there may not be any traffic, but that’s when other predators are hunting. Coyotes consider cats a delicacy, and will certainly thin out your cat population if you’re not careful.
- NEVER allow a declawed cat outdoors. It has absolutely no defense. It can’t claw an attacker, and it can’t climb a fence or tree to get away. Don’t even let your cat outside if you have clipped its claws, because of these same reasons.
- Be familiar with neighborhood threats. If you let your cat out during the day, try to do it during school hours. We had a cat that LOVED kids, and would beg to be let out when the school bus stopped at the corner. I would always stand there to make sure no one harmed the cat. Some kids are mean, and most of them don’t understand mortality, so your cat can be in danger from children.
- Dogs are another form of neighborhood threats. If there is a neighbor dog that gets out regularly, of a pack of dogs that roams at will, keep your cat in. It’s not worth losing your pet to such a terrible fate.
- Make sure your cat is current on immunizations. There are deadly diseases out there that can kill your cat. It should see the vet regularly for a check up, too, since cats often fight each other. Their skin is almost self-sealing, so you won’t find a puncture wound until it gets infected under the skin.
With proper management, your cat can enjoy the outdoors. To increase your cat’s safety, consider an outdoor cattery, or indoor perches.