How to Keep your Cat Safe and Healthy
Health benefits of using a cat enclosure/catio for my pet cat
Much discussion can be found in the Australian media regarding keeping Australian native wildlife safe from escaped, roaming domestic and/or feral cats. That said, however little is often mentioned about how to keep your pet cat safe, happy and healthy.
Is it good for your cat to keep them in a cat enclosure or catio?
Increasingly, pet owners and experts are seeing the benefits of keeping cats in catios/cat enclosures. TV’s ‘Bondi Vet’, Dr Chris Brown, says: “indoor cats are often healthier, live longer, and are more comfortable than outdoor cats.” He goes on to say: “the average lifespan for a cat that is kept indoors alone is 14 years and for a cat to be let outside as much as it likes the average lifespan is just four years.”
This statistic would suggest that there are clear health and safety advantages to having a confined cat, in it’s lifespan alone. Confining your pet cat may- in fact, prove to be very good for them!
Containment of cats
Cat containment can help to protect cats from disease and injuries that occur through fighting and accidents (eg road accidents). Containment can also reduce disturbance to neighbours, remove the risk of animals getting lost/stolen, allow increased opportunity for owners and cats to interact and reduce the impact of hunting by cats on the local environment.
Dangers facing pet cats
Some of the key dangers facing outdoor Cats include:
- Road incidents/accidents
- Fights with other cats/feral animals
- Snake and other predators
- Going missing (lost or stolen)
- Fertilisers – if ingested can cause illness if ingested by your pet/s.
- Rat/Rodent Poisions and Mouse Baits- kill your cat if ingested
- Snail and slug bait – is also harmful to your cats and could even cause death.
- Insecticides – are highly toxic to pets and may be fatal.
- Plants and Some mulches – many plants can be toxic to pets, for example: Easter lily, Day lily, Tiger lily, Japanese show lily and the Rubrum lily can all cause acute kidney failure in cats.
- Fallen seeds/stones or fruit from trees and plants if ingested can cause blockages and be fatal.
- Household chemicals are dangerous to animals, if you have an indoor cat secure these out of reach and site as you would if you had a small child in the house.
There is a push from Australian government officials for a 24hr Cat Curfew to be put into place to protect native animals from domestic cats. Already, in the ACT cat containment measures in some suburbs require cats to be kept indoors- If allowed outside, they must be on a leash or in an enclosure.
RSPCA Australia encourages the containment of cats in an enclosed area, at a minimum from dusk until dawn. On a related note, TV’s ‘Bondi Vet’, Dr Chris Brown, says 24-hour cat confinement is worth considering.
Cat Enclosure/ Catio
Cat Enclosure Recommendations
For cats kept in a Cat Enclosure/ Catio, the RSPCA recommends that your cats have access to:
- windows to look outside;
- access to adequate exercise;
- plenty of horizontal and vertical space;
- safe places for hiding and sleeping;
- scratching posts and toys to play with;
- fresh drinking water and food ;
- easy access to appropriate litter trays;
- an outdoor escape-proof enclosure as it “greatly increases the opportunity for activity and stimulation for contained cats”;
Benefits of a Catio/Cat Enclosure:
Cat Run/Enclosure Extension
- An enclosed area or Catio safely allows your pet cat access to fresh air and sunshine.
- Provides a protected area for them to sleep or hide
- Provide space for a cat to play safely, inside or outside
- Protects your cat from indoor/outdoor risks such as poisonous plants, electrical cables etc.
- A good Cat Enclosure will be escape-proof, so you can secure doors and sleep areas with latches and locks
- If possible, position your cat enclosure so the cats can see outside
- Consider positioning your cat enclosure in an area you frequent or have easy access to so they are still part of the family.
- Cats are territorial, so are very happy to have their own special space, make sure each cat has access to it’s own bedding/sleep area (eg cat bed, hammock).
- Consider adding a cat run to your outdoor enclosure to encourage exercise.
“Cats cope a lot better than what we think when it comes to being confined, they certainly need their outdoor time and cats do enjoy that but if you set up your indoors in the right way then certainly cats can be happy as indoor cats.”… “at the very least you should be keeping your cat indoors at night”Dr Brown says.
It is essential for their well-being that a confined cat have access to scratching trees, marking, exploring and mental stimulation. All of this is possible within a cat enclosure. Also keep in mind, cats that are contained to the owner’s property do not have to live totally indoors.
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