Our Kitten is getting older and he sure wants to explore! He is about 9 months now and Hershey is becoming more and more active then ever before. As a black tabby he want to explore the outside world and claim his territory. Unfortunately, letting your cat out unsupervised is always a risk. If you can keep them indoors or othewise safe your feline can live closer to 20 years. An indoor/outdoor cat has a much short life expectancy depending on the neighborhood and frequency.
There are a few ways to handle it if your cat begins to yearn for more of the outside world.
Find a way to satisfy those cravings in doors. That could be anything to adding more pet grass around to chew, putting lots of plants and hanging toys in a favorite window to allow for cat TV in a nice soothing space with a little stimulation, making sure you play with them enough to satisfy their hunt, kill, eat, sleep cycle, or a mixture of all of that together.
Find a window that you could easily install a cat door into, or at least won’t mind doing so, and build from there. My husband and I live in a two story house, so we put a cat door in the window below the 2nd floor balcony, then used a nice wire fencing to enclose the area and used 2×4’s for support and so we didn’t have to actually attach anything to the house, which is not preferred when you have siding or plaster.
Next he used built posts for a personalized cat tree with multiple levels and some elements he added rope for Hershey to scratch and climb! It is not uncommon for cat to actually like to climb as much as they can jump!. For the landings he bought outdoor mats and stapled them to some plywood which worked brilliantly to give the cat a sturdy but soft place to land, sit, and survey from.
The project tools needed was a fairly inexpensive table saw and table, a staple gun, and a drill. You could do this with an electric screw driver, but it may just take longer. All in all it took about $600 INCLUDING buying table saw, horse, and a few other small tools.
3. Training your cat for walks!
If nothing else works, you can always try to train your cat to walk on a leash. Most cats actually will figure it out eventually. I trained my last cat when he was 4 years old. Basically curiosity and the desire to get outside gets the best of them and eventually they will get it.
First start with training them to get use to their harness. Have them wear it indoors for some time during the day. If they wear a collar already, this may be pretty easy. Some will take longer and may even fight it. Just help them calm down until they get more used to it.
Once they are okay with the harness you can start using the leash. There are often two reactions to the leash. A complete flip out or once they feel a tug they will lay down and just refuse to walk, to the point where they will just drag. Again, let them get use to it in their own time. Some will have no issue with it as going outside will be more important and distracting, others you will have to just wait for them to be okay with it and slowly let them explore. Eventually they will get to understand the limitations of the leash but at the same time enjoy their time outside enough that they will work with it. Still not as easy as a dog, but it can still be just as fun!
4. Indoor/Outdoor Cats
So while there are many ways to satisfy your feline’s need to be outside and hunt I can say I am not completely letting a cat be a cat to explore on their own but there are many risks involved. If they go out unsupervised they could get injured by another animal or by jumping or falling too far. They could pick up flees, ticks, or other parasites and the life expectancy of an indoor/outdoor cat is much shorter than and fully indoor cat.
With our kitten we only let him out during the day unsupervised, and only after we trusted that he would come back in when we call him, which he does now. He gets a treat when he does so typically it doesn’t take long since he really does not wander far. One of the advantages of the Pacific North West is our days are already getting pretty long for the spring time (up to 12 hours now) so he gets more outdoor time then he has. So the Indoor/Outdoor option is always there, but try it only after you have exhausted other options and know the risks of your neighborhood. It still may not be worth it if you have predators, especially coyotes, around.
I hope to have a special page up soon dedicated to Catios in particular, so keep a watch out and I will update this post when I get that up and running!
Until then: Live, Love, and Cats!