If your cat has free access to the outdoors, he might not be able to resist the lure of adventure. Wandering cats expose themselves to a whole host of dangers, ranging from roads -- the number one cat killer -- to getting trapped in an abandoned building.
Consider keeping your cat as an indoor cat. This might not be ideal if he is a mature animal used to going outside -- he might get frustrated -- but should be fine for a kitten. If you are adopting an adult cat from an adult sanctuary, ask for one who was raised as an indoor cat. Of course, this does mean that you’ll have to invest in a litter tray and litter -- and attend to it every day -- but it saves you the worry and stress of a lost pet.
Get your cat neutered or spayed, if you haven’t already. The search for a mate, and sometimes to expand a territory, is one of the main reasons cats wander for miles. Fixing also prevents unwanted kittens, which are almost inevitable with an unfixed outdoor cat.
Train your cat to come when you make a loud noise, such as whistling or hitting a can with a spoon. The easiest way to do this is to make the sound before every mealtime.
Supervise your cat when he goes outside. Ideally, let him out shortly before mealtimes and call him back inside when it’s time to eat. Cats are unlikely to wander very far when they know that they are just about to be fed.
Keep him inside at night. If you have a cat flap, lock it. Nighttime is when other bigger and more dangerous carnivores are on the prowl. Coyotes and foxes pose a threat to cats.
Get your cat microchipped. If he does get lost, this gives you a much greater chance of getting him back. Also, attach a tag with your contact details to his collar to make it easy for somebody to find you if your cat gets lost. Vets and animal sanctuaries can scan microchips but the average person can’t.
- Check your cat for ticks regularly during the spring and summer. Outdoor cats are a prime target for these little parasites and some of the diseases they carry are extremely dangerous.
- One compromise to the indoor/outdoor cat issue is an outside cat enclosure, which allows your cat to go outside but not to wander, suggests the Humane Society.
- Make sure that your cat is always up-to-date with vaccinations, which is important with any cat, but imperative for one who spends time outside.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.