What sort of cat rescue blog would this be, without a blog post about the benefits of the indoor cat lifestyle? Here we go!
Browncoat does cat rescue.
That means we take cats from unsafe environments, and move them to a safe and loving environment where all their needs can be met...sometimes for the first time in their lives.
Why should their forever home be less safe? It shouldn't!
Cats are not safe outside.
The main cause of death in the US for cats is euthanasia for abandoned/stray/unwanted cats.
*cough cough people cough*
After that, the highest cause of death is being hit by a car/trauma, followed by Feline Leukemia.
The world is full of natural dangers, such as hawks, coyotes, and other cats and wildlife that carry disease. If your cat stays indoors, they aren't going to get infected wounds, blood borne illnesses, and a high parasite load. They also won't get hit by a car, or poisoned, shot, hung, or lit on fire by your crackpot neighbor.
My friend's neighbor had a massive orange cat who she would let out when she went to work, and let back in when she got home. He vanished for three days, and came home on three legs.
Evidently he had been staking out a birdfeeder a few blocks over, and the birder decided to set a beaver trap under the feeder. That cat was in agony for days, crying for help, until he took matters into his own paws. This was a nice neighborhood, that happened to have someone that prioritized watching songbirds over the life of someone else's family member. Many people see cats as less deserving of basic kindness because... they aren't dogs? After nearly two decades of cat rescue, I could probably talk for an entire twenty-four hour day about the pain and cruelty I've encountered. So much of it can be averted by keeping your cat inside, where you are their world.
Being inside keeps them safe from the dangers of the outside world, and also keeps the local wildlife safe from your cat! Cats are not indigenous to the US; we brought them here. We are responsible for them being here, and so are responsible for their actions. It's much better to have their actions be cuddling in your lap and killing the stick toy, rather than overpopulating the neighborhood, and messing with the native fauna.
Speaking of the native fauna...Who doesn't love a litter box?
I know it might seem like a dream to not have to scoop a litter box...but poop is important! Knowing what is going in and out of your cat tells you a ton about their overall health, even if it seems like poo drudgery. Cats that live inside are also less likely to have disgustingly high worm loads from eating rodents...and their chances of eating a poisoned rodent in someone else's yard and coming home to die drop to nil! If you have a male cat, it is especially important to monitor their lower urinary tract function, since they are more prone to getting blockages. If you can see a change in your cats bathroom habits, because of that wonderful litter box, you can avert spending ALL of your money at the vet to get your beloved boy back on track.
One of my favorite things about cats is the entertainment value! We play fetch, we play tag, they tackle their toys and each other...
There are trillions of things you can do to keep your cat from getting bored!
Having skitter toys, cat trees of various heights and window perches are great ways for your cat to stay entertained when you aren't home. There are motion activated toys, food dispensing toys,and toys that light up and squeak. There's even cat TV! When you are home, you can play games with toys on sticks, with treats, (I like playing hide the treat, to make my cats "hunt" their own food) and with boxes. Nothing is cheaper and easier than a cardboard box castle or maze. Keep it for as long as your cat is interested in it, and then recycle! Cats love stability, but changing up their playspace keeps them from getting too bored and sedentary. (As a shameless adoption plug, two cats are often much happier and entertained than solo cats. Just putting it out there.) You can even teach your cat some basic tricks, and try for internet fame.
What if your cat ~really~ wants to go outside?
There are options that are safer than free ranging.
Harnesses come in a variety of styles, and colors! I like the mesh "puppy" harnesses for kittens, since they are longer, wider, and much harder to sneak elbows out of. Premier also makes the "Come with Me Kitty" harness, which adjusts really nicely to your cats body shape.
Start training indoors, with short and treat filled moments with the harness.
When going outdoors, always pick your cat up and take them out with you...that becomes part of the going outside routine, and makes your cat less likely to develop dangerous door darting behavior. Some cats love the harness, others despise it. Keep all your harness sessions positive, and see if its a good fit for your cat. If the harness doesn't work for you, they do make cat strollers!
My Etta girl is harness trained, and we incorporated a safe word into our walks. Walking in the fields and the woods was safe, we were alone, and could enjoy scoping out the birds and chipmunks together without worry. When we were in town, there was always the potential for a stoopid dog with an oblivious human. So Etta learned the phrase "up up." When she heard that, she would leap from the ground, to the soft sided carrier I was carrying, safe out of harms way. We instigated the safe word after I went to scoop her up to get her away from an unwanted situation, and she vented her feelings on my arm. Understandable, but not enjoyable. With the harness and the carrier, we were unstoppable! Bringing a carrier along for town walks also gave her a safe place to recharge if she got overwhelmed. I'm a big fan of harness training cats, if they have the inclination for it!
Create a safe and contained outdoor space for your cat! BCR has a massive dog kennel outside a window. The cats can go in and out as they please, and the kennel has a roof to keep them in and the sun and rain out. There are a variety of shelves, and milkcrates for climbing and relaxing on.
Winter and Wullie (pictured in both catios, a year apart) also access their catio through a cat door in their family's window. This way they can go in and out as they please. However, if you don't have the ability to do so, you can always create a catio near the house, and walk your cat out there yourself. There is also a mesh tunnel that you can mount to your house! The internet is chock full of amazing things. You know your feline family best, and can figure out what's going to work for you!
Cat proof fencing
There are a few different websites out there selling cat proof fencing. While I know some wonderful women who have fenced in their yards for their cats, we have a pair of red tailed hawks that live nearby, so this wouldn't be the best fit for BCR headquarters. The premise is simple. If you have an existing fence, you add the cat proofing to the top of it, and keep them in. This way, your cat can free roam in your yard, and ~only~ your yard. Other cats can't get in, your cat can't get into fights, or get killed in the road.
The moral of the story?
Keep your cat safe. If you want to create a jungle for your tiny tiger, do it! There are so many options, and all of them are fun! You may find yourself feeling even closer to your cat, since you'll have more time to bond, and less time to worry. Its a win win.
Your responsibility as a pet parent is to be the best person you can be, so your cat can live the best life they can. They were once worshipped as gods. They deserve it.
The number of cats killed on the roads in the US every year is an approximation of 5.4 million!!!!
There is nothing more devastating than an avoidable death. We can't control everything we might want about our cats, like where they throw up, and what interesting little quirks their livers might decide to develop, but we can keep them safe, and entertained, and completely and utterly adored!
The Captain of Browncoat Cat is a self proclaimed crazy cat lady. Of course, we're all mad here...