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Feline Friday: Outdoor Cat Safety

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Seren loves exploring the roses–but only when on leash.

This Memorial Day it’s vitally important that you stay safe over the holiday–your fur kids are counting on you! Of course, it’s equally important that you keep the cats safe. In the best of all possible worlds, cats could roam back gardens and chase butterflies, enjoy sniffing the roses and have a wonderful time being cats–as they were meant to be. But the reality of the situation is that dangers lurk even in the back garden.

In my neck of the woods, coyotes venture right onto the back patio ready and willing to make a snack of Seren-kitty. Strays also may expose a pet cat to dangerous viruses, and cars can’t swerve every time to save the pet’s life at the risk of their own safety. You can train your cats–purrsuade them–to stop door dashing behavior to protect them from accidental escape. You’ll find a number of additional cat management solutions in the Competability: Cat-to-Cat book as well.

There are fence products available for cats to help you create less dangerous outdoor sanctuaries. Cat containment systems like Cat Fence-In attaches fine webbing to existing outdoor fences to keep cats safely inside while allowing them to enjoy the outdoors. Purr…fect Fence  also offers a complete backyard fence enclosure. Affordable Cat Fence receives positive marks as well. All three offer do-it-yourself kits. Here are some more tips on how to keep outdoor cats safe.

Do your cats have outside playgrounds? How do you keep cats safe when they’re outside? Have you trained your kitty to a leash for safe exploration? Please share!

And in the spirit of fun, here’s the latest Simon’s Cat video on the subject, enjoy!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant (dogs/cats), award winning author of 30+ pet care titles and thrillers, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

12 responses »

  1. Great post especially for a holiday weekend. I used a leash once but there must be a trick to using it on a cat that I wasn’t aware of. My cats pulled until the collar came off, they wanted nothing to do with it. I grew up with outdoor cats in the country but we lived on a busy road and all met their end there. Since having my own, I always keep them indoor kitties now. They sit in windows and try to catch butterflies and birds, but can only dream…but at least I know they are safe(r)!

    • Thanks Donna. Yes, there’s a trick with leashing cats. A kitty head is nearly the same size as the neck so (as you discovered) collars can slip over the head. Also, kitty necks are quite fragile and tugging or accidentally jerking (the cat RUNS and gets stopped at end of leash) can cause injury. You’ll notice in Seren’s picture she’s wearing a halter. That’s what I recommend–usually a figure-8 harness works very well because when they “tug” it tightens. *s* Cats also need to be trained to accept the halter so they don’t “fall over paralyzed” when it’s first put on them. 🙂 Keeping your cats inside is the safest thing you can do, of course!

  2. My cat only goes out if we have to travel with him, which is quite rare. And then I have him in my arms and in a harness and leash, just in case. He’s actually terrified of the outdoors since he’s always been in. He does love to sit at an open screened and guarded window, taking in all the sights and smells. An occasional moth or spider crawls in and gives him something new to ‘play’ with. It’s good to know that there are ways now to keep a cat safe outside and from roaming too far.

    • Marcia, when Seren was young she was a door-dasher upon occasion. Actually if you allow your cat to go outside and they decide it’s AWESOME that potentially can create yowl-monsters begging for outdoor access. So if your kitty isn’t a fan of the great outdoors, that at least helps keep him inside. Since Seren has aged, she’s not as interested in going outside. Part of why I took her outside, in fact, was so she could “map” and become familiar with home territory right around the house. That way if she DID door-dash I hoped she’d recognize “home” and stay nearby until we could find her. *shrug*

  3. Where did you find & buy your harness? I haven’t found them locally in my town yet.

    The Pet Show guy uses a mini air horn to dissuade door-dashers. Thoughts?

    • I bought it so long ago, but it must have been a local pet shop, probably Pet Smart or Petco. They have them for small dogs, too, which might fit a cat well.

      • That blue harness on Seren in the picture is an H-harness style, for Toy dogs. You can also get from amazon or PetCo/PetSmart and often dog grooming shops have harnesses.

        The air horn may work with confident cats. But it could traumatize shy ones, and if your timing is wrong you might even “scare” the cat out the door more quickly, LOL!

  4. Oh I do love Simon’s videos! I’m almost afraid to admit my cats through 30 years went outdoors as they pleased. Each one died in my arms at the vet’s after a good long life. I guess we were all very lucky.

    • Patricia, indoor cats can die early–and outdoor cats can live long and prosper (like Spock!). I’m glad you had wonderful long lives with your kitties.

  5. I have 2 indoor cats (brother and sister) who are 7 years old. He is so loving and will let anyone fool with him but she is not a people person and she’s kinda sassy. My first question is that they are scared to death of a lawnmower or weed eater and when they hear them they get real low to the floor and run room to room. Will they ever stop doing that? My next question is when I go to bed at night if I have nylon on, my Tom cat wants to get right up close to my underarm and he wants to suck on that nylon and march like he’s nursing. What is up with that? He’s always done this so I don’t wear nylon very often. I think he reverts back to his kitten days when he was nursing momma. I appreciate your expertise input.

    • Hi Patricia, Sorry your kitties are scared of the lawnmower or weed eater. At age 7 I suspect that’s a behavior that won’t mellow much in the future. *s* You can possibly help by playing calming music when you know lawn work will be done.

      As for the sucking/nursing behavior–you’re exactly right! Many cats enjoy the nursing behavior coupled with kneading (paw-treading) behavior. Since it’s isolated to the nylon you’re fortunate that you can anticipate and avoid the behavior.


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