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Hey Everyone –
I’m privileged enough to have written several books on the subject of cats and my life with them. I often get questions about certain topics and realize that there’s no better way to answer them than to reference what I’ve already written. This is one of those times.
This excerpt is from my latest book, Total Cat Mojo.
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Keeping Cats Indoors
By Jackson Galaxy
If there’s one topic that causes fights to break out (and I mean of the human variety), it’s whether or not cats should be allowed outdoors. The indoor/outdoor debate centers on the concept of quality versus quantity—the idea that cats’ lives are of a better Mojo quality when given access to their original stomping grounds, and that cats love being outside and it goes against nature to restrict their movements. At the same time, if they are given that free access, dangers abound and their lifespan can be shortened.
To be fair, both sides of the fence here make very strong arguments. Are cats innately “happier” when allowed access to the outdoors? I believe so. Are there problem-solving opportunities and challenges from both their environment and through practicing the Raw Cat HCKE that are difficult to replicate? Again, yes. Some say they need to be outside, and by denying that, we’re making their lives miserable. In the same breath, people acknowledge that the threats outside are numerous and can be fatal. Between the transmission of diseases like FIV that come from the inevitable fights with other community cats, and the usual suspects of cars, people, and predators from both air and ground . . . it’s rough out there.
Where do I fall in the debate? I believe that cats should be kept indoors. I don’t believe that we should even be getting into the debate about quality versus quantity of life. We can replace the perceived loss of quality by involving ourselves in our cats’ lives more. My personal model of parenting dictates that I want my animal children around for the full natural duration of their lives. Do they love being out there? No debate. But I loved riding the subway around New York City as a teenager. I still had a curfew.
That said . . . it’s a personal choice whether you’re going to let your cat be indoor or outdoor. But if you do fall on the outdoor side of things, consider at the least these additions to you and your cats’ lives, which will give them access to the outdoors but keep them safe at the same time:
Catio: This is a real game changer. A catio is basically a space that you can make for cats (which of course you can share with them) by enclosing your existing patio or creating an enclosure. There, you can offer great vertical spaces, wooden objects that they can scratch on, different grasses including catnip that you can plant and they can enjoy—even hunting that can happen when critters make their way inside.
Harness Training: Enjoying the great outdoors via a leash isn’t just a“dog” thing. If your cat demonstrates that he really, really wants to get outside(not just because you think he should get out there), he can be trained to a harness and leash, and you can spend quality time every day cruising around the neighborhood with your cat.
Window Boxes: Sometimes you can’t even take them outside because of your schedule or your apartment lifestyle, or you determine that they didn’t want to go out badly enough to train to a harness. Or perhaps once they were trained, the outdoors just wasn’t for them. There are kits that fit in your window just like an air conditioner that allow your cats to enjoy the view. Getting in the window box can become a wonderful hangout spot with a front row seat to Cat TV.
Fencing in Backyard: There are more and more companies offering different versions of the existing, fairly foolproof method of fencing in your backyard. You can attach toppers to your existing fences or purchase a free-standing system. Either way, your cats won’t get out, and just as important, nobody else can get in.
Still want to let them out? At least make sure your bases are covered just in case. Consider the following:
Letting Cats Outside Responsibly
- Please make sure your cats are micro chipped and have their ID tag and a breakaway collar.
- Make sure they’re up on their vaccines.
- Let your cat out only when you are home, so if your cat needs you, he can find you.
- When the sun goes down, your cat comes in.
- Stop free feeding. Have mealtimes so your cats will come home at certain times, and, again, you retain a measure of control about when they are out and when they are in.
- Take the most amazing pictures of your cats, in color, black and white, all angles. If they get lost, you will want those pictures for the flyers you hand out around your neighborhood.
- Be aware of how your cat might affect other cats. If your neighbors have a Napoleon cat who’s indoors only, and your cat poops in their yard, that can drive that Napoleon so berserk that he will paint their house with pee. In that case, if you want to be a good neighbor, take your cat out on a harness, or keep your cat indoors.
- Grab your copy of Total Cat Mojo here:(Link)