Indoors or Outdoors? Hazards for Cats In and Out of the Home
Cats are curious creatures who love hunting wildlife outdoors just as much as exploring every nook and cranny indoors. However, there are quite a few hazards for your cat in and out of the home. Whether Mr Whiskers is an outdoor kitty or an indoor one, it’s always good to know what to look for. Below, Cat in a Flat explains the harmful hazards your cat can encounter inside and outside the home.
Should you let your cat outside?
There are many benefits to keeping your fur friend indoors. Not only will your cat avoid certain hazards, but indoor cats also live longer than their outdoor counterparts. However, while some kitties might be happy indoors all of the time, others may enjoy spending time outside. Here are a few of the benefits of letting your furry friend experience the great outdoors:
- More physical activity. Outside the home, your cat can climb trees, hunt, and run around. Because they get more exercise, your kitty is also less likely to put on unneeded weight.
- Good mental health. The many distractions outside the home can keep your kitty entertained and have a positive effect on their mental well-being.
- More balanced behaviour. When bored, indoor cats can act out by scratching the furniture or behaving aggressively. Time outdoors can help decrease this type of behaviour.
Tip: You can offer all of these benefits to your fur friend, even if they are indoor cats. A regular feeding schedule, daily playtime, and essential cat care can keep your indoor kitty just as happy and healthy!
Avoid cat hazards: How to let your cat outdoors safely
It’s important to respect your feline’s personality and needs. If you think your fur friend might benefit from some time outdoors, here are a few tips for letting your cat out safely.
- Make sure your cat is microchipped. If your kitty gets lost, a stranger may pick them up and turn them over to a shelter. Shelters or veterinarians can scan microchips to find out who a cat’s owner is. Check with your vet to make sure the address and phone number tied to your feline’s microchip are up to date.
- Also check with your vet to ensure your cat has the proper vaccinations. Encounters with animals such as foxes, dogs, and other felines can pose hazards to your cat. Make sure Mr Whiskers has proper protection against potential diseases these animals may carry.
- If you have a garden, cat-proof it so your kitty can spend time outdoors in a safe area. Install mesh along the top parts of fences, as cats can jump very high. Also repair holes and other potential escape routes, and making sure there aren’t any poisonous plants around.
- A ‘break free’ safe collar with an ID disc is another way to ensure your kitty finds their way home if lost. DO NOT put regular collars on your cat as these don’t snap open when caught on something and may lead to strangulation.
- If possible, always bring your cat in at night. Cars are the biggest outdoor hazard to cats—both during the day and at night. However, the risk greatly increases at night when drivers have less visibility. Busy roads are dangerous, but cars can surprise your cat on a quiet roads, too.
Cat Sitters: If a cat owner does not have a cat flap and you are asked to lock a cat indoors every night please make sure they understand that should the cat not be home on time it is not your responsibility to wait around. Please read here and discuss alternative plans with your client.
Can my cat find hazards indoors?
The simple answer is, yes. One of the most endearing things about our felines is that they love to follow us everywhere—this can include sleeping on your bed and following you to the bathroom too! However, this also means our fur friends can sneak into place they don’t belong and may encounter some cat hazards.
Here are some of the most common indoor hazards for cats:
- Open windows. Our fur friends may be agile creatures, but that doesn’t make cats immune to the hazards of falling out of windows. When not around, keep your windows closed to avoid potential accidents. Also watch out for ’tilted-windows’ as your kitty can get stuck in them, if you need to leave a tilted window open consider using window protectors.
Cat sitters: You may be asked by some fur parents to open windows to air out their home while they are away. Keep an eye on open windows and always take care to close them at the end of your visit. Cats can become anxious when there’s a change in their routine and do things they usually might not—like jump out of a window.
- Toys. They may provide hours of fun for our furry friends, but some toys can also be dangerous for cats. Always put toys out of reach after playing with your kitty. Don’t let him play with household items like string, plastic bags, or elastic bands as these can all pose hazards to your cat.
Cat sitters: Never leave toys out after your visits. Kitties can become tangled in feather fishing rods or swallow parts of toys. Make sure they only play while under your supervision and check in with Mr Whiskers’ owners if you have any concerns.
- Cleaners, laundry detergent, and insecticides. Detergent, cleaning products and insecticides like rat poison can be huge cat hazards. If swallowed, these products may cause life-threatening issues. Keep cleaning products and pest poisons stored high out of your fur friend’s paws. Call a vet immediately if you suspect your kitty has ingested any of it, as the effects can be fatal.
Cat sitters: Make sure you’re prepared for any sort of feline emergency by knowing the signs of an unwell kitty, basic first aid, and how to help an injured or sick cat.
- Poisonous plants. Check all the plants in your house to make sure they are pet-friendly and not a hazard to your cat. Not sure which plants are okay for Mr Whiskers? Here is a handy guide for plants to avoid!
How do you create a safe environment for your cat?
At this point, you may be feeling like your home is a minefield of potential cat hazards. But don’t despair! It’s not hard to make your home a safe and happy place for your furry friend. Here are a few tips for turning your indoor space into a cat pawadise:
- Provide horizontal and vertical climbing spaces. Cats love sitting up high. Cat ladders, trees, and window hammocks are all great ways to give Mr Whiskers that extra height.
- Provide hiding areas. It’s no secret that cats love boxes. Cut holes in a cardboard box to transform it into a play area as well as a place your kitty can retreat to if they feel scared or anxious.
- Provide scratching posts. Cats scratch not just to sharpen their claws but to leave their scent behind. Scratching posts are a must around the home.
- Provide plenty of safe toys. Make sure your kitty has a variety of toys to play with on different days.
- Provide quality time with your cat. This can be by playing with them, cuddling them, or hiding treats around the home for them to find.
- Or…get another cat! Cats can be social animals and, if done properly, introducing your cat to a new kitty can have many positive benefits.
Whether indoors or outdoors, it’s always great to know more about how to keep your cat safe and healthy. Check out these blog posts on how to know if your cat is freezing and how to tell if your cat is happy.