Archive for December, 2010
Cats are marvelous creatures, aren’t they? Aloof, lovable, regal, haughty, adorable, graceful, funny and then some. Truly, cats, like humans (and you must bear in mind that cats aren’t human, and can’t be treated as such, even if you ‘do’ consider them part of the family), are highly varied in their personalities. Some have a marvelous sense of humor, others are grumpy and spiteful. Still others seem a perpetual kitten, even when they’re showing their age at 16.
Similar to dog breeds, where you live can play a big part in how and where your cat lives. Outdoor cats tend to lead rather different lives from indoor cats, requiring different strategies for their care and happiness. A busy urban environment, such as a Manhattan walk up, differs greatly from say, a mountain farm on a few acres, where your nearest neighbor may be miles away, and traffic is naught but a rare sight. No environment is without its potential dangerous, and although kitty really wants to go outside, sometimes you must set the limit to keep him or her safe. However, if you do live on a farm or in the country, kitty can run around with relative safety from predators and cars. You still want to follow some steps first.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
That’s not to say that your outdoor kitty will suffer the tribulations of Magaret (Maggie the Cat) from the Tennessee Williams play. But if you are planning to keep, or already do keep your kitty outdoors, here are some things to keep in mind.
• If kitty hasn’t been spayed or neutered yet, make sure you get this done. It will cut down on your cat wandering around in search of Amore!
• Make sure your pet has all his or her shots and vaccinations. This won’t prevent injury, but should it get into a fight or become injured, it will help curb infection.
• If you live in an urban area, especially one where traffic is heavy, make sure and bring your cat indoors after dark. Also, be sure to do so when there won’t be anyone at home. In such an environment, there’s always a chance the cat could be hit by an unwary driver, and suffering until you’ve realized what has happened or returned home. To entice your feline friend to come in at night, try bribing it with a tasty tidbit, like his or her favorite treat. If you have roommates, make sure they know the rules about the cat as well. If the weather turns bad, try to bring the cat in during rain and snow storms. You don’t like being soaked to the bone, or frozen and we’re pretty sure the cat doesn’t either.
• For the love of all that is sacred, do not declaw your cat. Some owners erroneously go this route to keep their cat from shredding things in the house. Not only is this cruel and unusual punishment to kitty (you try walking around with the tops of your toes cut off), but if he is living out-of-doors, it will make it impossible to defend himself.
• Be consistant in your training, making sure the cat only comes and goes through one access point, preferrably to the backyard, or a more secure area. The average fence won’t stop a cat for long, but provides a modicum of safety – certainly more than he would have in the front yard and potentially the street.
• If you live in a rural area, such as the aforementioned farm, it can arguably be safer to have your cats roam free (barring natural predators that are bigger than they). Cats can be marvelous mousers so don’t be surprised to see ‘love notes’ at your doorstep each morning.
• If you do live in an urban area, or at least an area that poses a greater danger to your cat, you would do well to consider installing a cat door so your friend can come and go as he or she pleases, but also an enclosure. You can easily make one from wood and chicken wire. This lets kitty see, smell and hear all that he or she might want to, while keeping her safe from predators or careless humans. Don’t forget to put toys in the enclosure, or make your kitty her own outdoor cat tree on which to climb or to curl up for a nap. This allows you to keep things interesting.
Ultimately, how and where you keep your cat depends on your environment and your willingness to let the furry beastie out of your sight. With a little common sense, forethought and a modicum of effort on your part, you can indulge his love of outdoors and ensure his or her safety.