Would you let your dog roam around outside alone? In towns and cities most would not, however this is different with cats. People think that these independant minded creatures are somehow immune from cars, wild animals, people, and disease. This counts as neglect and I hope to raise a little awareness about it. I cannot count the times I have seen cats hurt, uncollared, and lost. If I know where the cat lives I bring it home. Usually the people tell me, “Huh, I thought it could take care of itself”. My own cats were victims of neglect, from which I saved them.
Keep Your Cats Indoors
Your cats need shelter. Sounds simple? You’d think so. You should never just put your cats outside and leave them. Cats can’t protect themselves from everything. Things like Feline Aids and Leukimia run rampant in stray communities. Cars hit cats daily around here. These are only some of the dangers.
But my cats destroy my furniture!
Hrm…inanimate objects or live creatures? For some this is an eternal question. You can always declaw but there are other options as well. We train our cats by water squirts on things we don’t want them to scratch and treats on things we do. Get a scratching post, tall enough for the cat to stretch on. Check your furniture, does it itch your palms when you rub it? If so, you cats may want to scratch it. White vingar or lemon juice washes may keep the cats away and brighten the fabric.
So no outside time for kitties at all?
Not so. There are many options to give them a little sunshine. For inside there are “cat shelves” you can buy to let your cats sit beside a window with a small sill. Some cats can be leash trained. This requires a harness and leash made out of non-catching fabric. Usually siamese and blue shorthair variaties take a shine to this. If you have backyard with a sound high fence you can let them out there. Some fabric around the edge will help keep them in. A harness and leash staked to the ground can be nice for an older or lame cat that would like to sit in the grass now and again. A pen or run can be bought or built to let the cats have some outside time but these must be cleaned. In most of the US it is against the law to let your cats roam free! Don’t forget a little food and water for those outdoor kitties. On walks, a small bag of treats and thermos with a cup lid could do you both some good.
Collar those cats!
Regardless of how you do it, collar those cats! If on a leash they should always have a harness, but if in your backyard or pen a collar will do. On the collar you should have current rabies tags, and license at least. My cats also have a name tag with our current phone number. This is a law in Colorado and most other states as well. In other countries I suggest you check your local laws. You should never leave the cat alone outside, especially leashed. They could get tangled, attacked or otherwise hurt without your supervision.
But I’m a breeder/in need of mouser.
Yes, there is such a thing as a work cat. Show, breeder, and entertainment cats are usually not outdoor cats. However, Farmers and Ranchers sometimes need barn cats to help with pest problems. Still these cats still need warm places to sleep, regular vet vists and care. My own mascot cat was an example of rancher neglect. Her mother, pregnant had never had a vet visit, was never allowed inside of the house. So in the fall she found the warmest place she could…in a horse stall. The rancher notices his horse acting weird and called the vet immediately. The vet found the trampled litter, dying mother, and one week old kitten barely alive. The vet rescued the kitten. Tests found she had syphillis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, upper respitory infection and various other diseases. She was suffering from dehydration, and malnutrition. By some miracle she lived. We got her at 1 month and a half old directly from the vet. She was hairless and on medication till she was 5 months old, but she turned into small but pretty cat with thick fur.
Strays and Uncollared Cats should be taken to the local Animal Shelter. Some will come pick up the cats and patrol. Others require you catch the cat yourself. If possible, bring it to a no kill center.
If your cat is having an unwanted(by you) pregnancy take the weaned kittens to the animal shelter, or put up signs for people to adopt them. Most pet stores will let you put up a flier as well. We were warned by the man who sold us our house to take walks on trash day to make sure no one was throwing out kittens in the trash! My secound youngest cat was almost a victim of kitten drowning, I’m happy to say that my friend and I saved her and her brother from it in time.
Are you having a baby? That is no reason to get rid of your cats! Your cats are smart creatures and can be taught not to go in the baby’s room, and to respect the baby(it will take the child longer to respect the cat.) The simplest way to get the cat to respect the baby is to play with it while the baby is in room. Teach the child to play games with the cat. Our own 9month old already understands how to play ball with one of our cats. Most cats learn after the first hug to stay away from children. Do not leave your child alone with the cat until he or she can walk. Simple. Only in extreme cases, you may need to look for another home. A home! Do not take your cat to the shelter, find a loving family or even a foster care for a year till your child is older. In our case, Tylar would pee on all the baby’s things. We found her a loving home, because the behavior problem was territorial and could only be dealt with by separation of the baby and the cat. This would make poor Tylar’s life miserable. Instead we decided to find her a home where she could be free to do as she wished. This was an extreme case. Our other four cats love Aia and either get along or stay out of her way as needed.
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