Spring is in the air again, and many cats will be looking to go back outside or spend more time outdoors. While going outside is a great source of stimulation and activity, it can also hold a lot of potential dangers for our feline friends. Outdoor hazards such as rival cats, hostile wildlife, speeding cars, unkind humans, poisonous plants and toxic substances lurk around every corner. The risks don’t have to outweigh the rewards, so here are some handy tips for keeping your cat safe this season!
If your cat goes outside and roams freely, make sure that he is kept up–to–date on vaccines and deworming. This is very important! Recommended vaccines include a rabies and distemper combination every three years (after the kitten series and first annual booster) and a feline leukemia vaccine annually.
We also recommend that ALL cats be microchipped. Even indoor-only cats periodically make it outside, and even if your kitty isn’t “lost”, a Good Samaritan may still pick them up and take them to a shelter. Collars with identification tags are good, but many cats end up losing them (as most cat collars are made to be break-away so that cats won’t get strangled if the collar gets caught on something). A microchip is a permanent ID that will never be lost.
If your cat really wants to go outside, but you are worried that they may get lost or run into trouble, then a “catio“ is a great option. A catio—a portmanteau of the words cat and patio–is an outdoor enclosure that attaches to your house, and your cat can go in and out on its own while remaining out of trouble. There are many pre-made catios available for purchase. If you are a handy do-it-yourselfer, there are even lots of plans online and examples of homemade catios on YouTube.
Another option, if you want to spend time with your cat outside, is to train them to walk on a leash and harness. It’s actually easier than it sounds! As with anything new, you want to make the experience a positive one. Most cats are food-motivated, so a favorite treat can go a long way. For others, simply being able to go outside is reward enough for having to put on the harness.
In fact, we recently tried a new Kitty Holster harness for our clinic cat, Buster, with very positive results. It’s fairly easy to put on him but isn’t easy for him to escape. Now, Buster goes outside almost daily and loves his Kitty Holster (pictured above). We liked it so much that we now carry them in stock at Cats on Broadway Veterinary Hospital! To see the Kitty Holster in action, look here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3pZV-vbiE8
Until next time, we hope all of you have a safe and splendid Springtime! =^_^=