You can’t always keep your kittens and cats safe and warm indoors, so what can you do to make sure they are happy and safe outdoors?
Fence your yard
Generally cats can jump even large fences, but its nice to have a barrier between them and the road to make sure they simply don’t just jump out onto the street and in to traffic. This also keeps other animals out, such as dogs, ensuring that your cat has a safe familiar place that is “theirs” to jump back to. This is a good solution if you are happy to let your cat run a little free. However its very important to note to watch your cat to ensure they do not try to attack any native species that might be nesting in nearby trees or hiding in the bushes. Remember though, that letting your cat run loose like this means they’re off on an adventure and will only come back when they feel like it. Not a good solution if you havent a cat flap installed!
Create an attractive playground
Buy some piping, wood and cheap scratchy outdoor rugs and build a fun little playground for your pet. Personally there is nothing better that my cat Oscar loves than his choir mat. Its rough and great for clawing, but the best thing is it only cost a few dollars from a home wares shop, so its easy to move around the house. And should he ever get tired of it you can use it as an outdoor mat again!
Use a harness and leash
I’m a bit worried about my cat because I live so close to roads, and he was adopted from a family who mistreated him. I think they bumped his head a few too many times because he’s not got a lot going on upstairs. Needless to say I have found the best solution to be the purchase of a harness and leash set. You can buy these anywhere, I actually purchased mine originally from a grocery shop in the pet isle, but Amazon and eBay as well as your local pet store should have many solutions on offer as well. Look for a figure 8 body harness thats tightly fitted. You might need to give your cat some practice with the harness inside to let them become familiar, then tighten and apply the leash and go for a few little walks around the yard. The most important thing to remember here is to follow your cat gently around the yard, they will NOT respond to being pulled or tugged and will immediately try to fight the harness and escape. Remember to reward your cat for wearing the harness and familiarise them with the process of wearing it each time when they go outside. Soon, when you shake the harness they’ll know its outside time!
Bring the outdoors in
Have you got a nice sunny room in your house? If so its easy to bring a bit of outdoor life into your home. This is a great solution for cat owners who are not quite reasy to let their cat run loose, or simply live in a traffic heavy neighbourhood. Hardware or gardening stores sell special indoor pots with water trays and systems to indoor gardens have never been more easy to maintain. Plant a few nice tall leafy ferns for your cat to play in and some catnip / cat grass for their pleasure. You might have to keep moving these up out of reach or outdoors occasionally though so your cat doesn’t eat them all! Another trick here would be to bring some larger branches in (without leaves) for the cats to climb. Its easy to throw back out again when you’re done.
Purchase play nets and tents
Haven’t got the patience to build an indoor play area or walk your cat on a harness? Well purchasing a special pet play net or tent is probably the best solution for you. These are available at any good pet store or again, at many places online and you can simply pop up when you’ve got a nice day, or store in the shed when its a rainy spell of weather. A cheap, no mess, no fuss solution to outdoor play time for your cat. And another bonus, it keeps the native wildlife and the cat separate!
Plant lots of catnip and cat grass
Keeping a large fresh supply of catnip and cat grass around your yard will ensure that your cat will spend longer nibbling at the good stuff and less time chasing native birds and lizards. Better for the environment and one happy cat. Its also easy to watch your cat as he or she probably isn’t going to be moving much! Watch a video about the effects of catnip here on catnipsum.
Main image by Nick Perla, 2007.