Not so many years ago most cats lived their lives in and around the yard, roaming at will and venturing home for meals and love when they felt like it! It sounds like an idyllic existence but there are a few problems with that lifestyle!
Firstly, (and probably most importantly from the cat’s point of view!) they tend to die at a younger age than their indoor counterparts. This is because they are far more likely to be hit by cars, attacked by dogs or get in repeated cat fights causing infections and abscesses. Over time, these infections may lead to long term health problems such as kidney disease. Add to that the very real risk of spreading Feline Aids through cat bites, for which there is no cure, then an outdoor cat’s life is not all it’s made out to be!
Secondly, it’s not only the outdoor cat which is losing out by this lifestyle. Other animals in the neighbourhood (particularly the wildlife and other people’s pets- think free ranging rabbits, guinea pigs and chooks) are also having their life spans cut short by the hunting outdoor cat! Which is one reason why many local councils are restricting cats from roaming, especially at night.
Lastly, (but definitely not least!) an outdoor cat can lead to a few neighbourhood spats of the human kind. The very distinct and strong smell of cat’s pee on a front doorstep or pot plant can linger for days, and being rudely woken up by the sound of a cat fight at 3 am does not make you feel friendly to the offending neighbour!
So what is a good alternative? Cat owners want a long life for their feline friend but many worry that an indoor cat will be bored silly for most of that long life! However, there are lots of things that cat owners (or should we really be honest and say cat servants!) can do to give their cats the best chance to live to a healthy old age and still have a great time doing it! Here are a few tips:
Get your cat to hunt for its food. Throw out the food bowl and start hiding your cat’s food around the house or place it in a treat bowl so it has to work for its food.
Get your cat a toy box and fill it with fun cat toys. Next, play with your cat using them! Cats usually love to play and pounce with toys and it’s a great way to interact with and enjoy your cat. There are some great toys out there and it can be as simple as a ruler poked under a door. Just be careful of toys that can be swallowed!
Give your cat lots of places to climb, hide and play on. Indoor and enclosed outdoor play areas and gyms are great fun and don’t have to look like an interior designer’s nightmare. Check out the photo of our adoption kittens in their Catmax caboodle on our Facebook page.
Train your cat some simple tricks and commands. Don’t assume it’s only the dogs that can strut their stuff!
Provide your cat with a few places to ‘go to the toilet’. This can really help stop any urinating outside the litter tray. It’s also really important to keep the litter trays clean.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to give your cat a great life, then our clinic runs kitten/cat classes to help you do so. We are one of a very few clinics in our area that provide these classes because we want our cats to have healthy, enjoyable lives in great homes. For more info on these classes just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on (03) 5244 4202.