Longingly, the house cat sits on the windowsill and pines after the bird flying by. Of course, he would love to go outside, too. But how dangerous is outdoor access? And: What you should consider before you let your cat go outside.
Prancing through the grass, chasing mice and climbing trees – the life of an outdoor cat has many advantages. But in addition to a lot of fun, the outdoor life also brings dangers that you, as the owner, should be prepared for.
After all, a cat with outdoor access has a much lower life expectancy than a pure apartment cat. This is due, among other things, to the fact that it is exposed to dangers such as territorial fights with conspecifics, encounters with martens and foxes, the temptation to nibble on a poisonous plant or even the busy road.
These things cannot be avoided – but other risks can. Read here how to protect your cat in the best possible way.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
Is my place of residence suitable for free-roaming cats?
This is the first and most important question to ask before letting your cat roam outside. Risk factors near the house are
- Roads with heavy traffic
- hunted woods
- and neighbors who don’t like cats.
The last one may be hard to gauge, but if it’s known anyway: better keep your cat indoors. You will do your velvet paw and the neighborly peace no favor if suddenly koi carp disappear from the neighbor’s pond.
From what age can the cat go out?
The most important thing before your cat leaves the house for the first time is that she has fully settled in with you. Only then is the probability high enough that she will also return to you.
Therefore, it is recommended not to let cats out younger than eight months. Some cat owners even follow the rule that the cat should have had its first birthday before being let out the door. Others make it dependent on whether the cat has already been neutered: This can only be done when she is sexually mature.
Neutered free-roaming cat – an important decision
Whether you have your cat neutered or not is up to you. However, you should consider that a female, an unneutered cat, can quickly become pregnant – and you will then have to take care of the little fur balls.
Neutering a male cat before he leaves the house for the first time can also make sense: He’s much less likely to get into turf wars and get hurt if he’s neutered.
The Microchip that saves Cat Lives
You wait at your front door in the evening for days, weeks and even months, calling your outdoor cat – but he doesn’t come. And suddenly, one day, he is standing in front of you as if nothing had happened.
This happens, but it is not the rule. If a free-roaming cat suddenly doesn’t come home, it can mean that something has happened to it. At best, someone has found it and taken it to the vet. But how should the vet recognize that it is your cat?
That’s where the transponder chip comes in: it’s a ten-millimeter-long, two-millimeter-wide microchip implanted under the skin at the back of the cat’s neck.
The procedure is about as painful as injecting the cat with a syringe – but it has a significant advantage for you and your outdoor cat. Because if you register your animal afterward with the transponder chip number and your data in the animal register under 24Petwatch or “Free Pet Chip Registry,” it can be assigned to you at any time.
To read the number of the chip, veterinarians and animal shelters have a special device that reveals the number of the animal. Chipping usually costs between $30 and $50. Registration in the animal register is free of charge. Dogs can also be chipped and thus be found again if they have run away.
Tattooing in the ear of the cat
Since everyone does not immediately see the implanted chip, an additional ear tattoo with an individual number can be helpful. It signals to the finder: this cat has an owner. So your outdoor cat can be returned to you.
If her cat carries a chip, it could be a cat flap with microchip recognition. The flap reads the animal’s chip and does not let other animals into the house.
Something similar is possible with an address capsule attached to a collar. However, this solution has a considerable disadvantage: cats can get caught on it and get life-threatening injuries. This can also happen with collars that have a predetermined breaking point. This should be taken into account when buying a collar.