Domestic cats are furry family members to millions of Canadians, all of whom want to make sure their feline friends can exercise their natural behaviours and be happy. But allowing cats to roam outdoors exposes them to serious dangers – and creates a measurable risk to local wildlife.
Fortunately, there are solutions to ensure that cats can be both exploratory hunters and protected from these hazards, keeping everyone safe. Here’s a few of our favourites:
- Going for walks. Not all cats enjoy this, but it’s a great way to let them explore and engage their senses outdoors while remaining safely under the control of a family member. Harnesses and leashes are available at most pet stores, and with a little bit of positive reinforcement, it can be a great daily treat for a cat!
- Interactive toys. Cats have incredible hunting instincts, and there are toys specifically designed to exercise those skills. What makes them even more fun, of course, is making it a game for two: pick out a couple of new toys and spend time every day making little fluff balls, cardboard, or other playthings act like the prey cats want to track and hunt.
- Create more space. Whether you’re in a five-bedroom home or a bachelor apartment, giving cats more space to jump and explore is as easy as installing a few shelves. You’ll want to make sure they’re reinforced to take the weight of a cat landing on them. This is also great for multi cat homes as it really does create more space for lounging, snoozing, and playing.
- Build a catio. A lot of cats love to be outside, but it can be dangerous for them: other cats, vehicles, disease, weather, and animals of various species. They can also cause a great deal of harm to ecosystems and wildlife populations through their innate hunting skills. But a catio gives cats an opportunity to engage with the outdoors while remaining safely protected from dangers (and protecting wildlife from cats). The BC SPCA has a web page that details a few basic designs (click here) and you can also hear them talk about catios on this episode of our Defender Radio podcast.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out these incredible photos from the Konrad family who have created a cat-centric living area for the felines they rescue! The fenced backyard with nice long grass for play and exploration is also designed to keep the cats in with (difficult to see in photos and the video) netting that the cats can’t get over.
What are your solutions? Let us know on social media or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org!