Outdoor Cat Safety

LMK17

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I'm wondering how those of you with outdoor cats approach their safety? Do you take any particular precautions to keep them safe and at home?

We have 5 working cats. I consider them an absolute necessity as we had plenty of rodent problems beforehand we adopted the first cats three years ago. The cats definitely earn their keep. I know some people view the occasional disappearing kitty as an unavoidable hazard of country life, but I really don't see it that way. All our cats are hand-picked rescues from shelters or re-homed from families who couldn't keep them. They have names, collars, vet care, toys, treats, and all the accoutrements one would expect a beloved family pet to have. And we do love them! They're every bit a part of the family as the two fat house cats are; they just happen to have a job to do and sleep outside (either on the porch, in the barn, or in the outbuilding with the kitty door).

Unfortunately, one of our favorite cats disappeared last weekend. She came to dinner on Sat and was gone by the time I looked for her Sun morning. We've spent hours looking for her, talked to the neighbors, alerted the shelters, put up signs, etc, etc... Again, all that you'd do for a beloved pet. Although she *could* come sauntering home any time, I highly suspect she became a coyote snack. There are lots of coyotes here, it's quite rural, and both coyote sightings + reports of missing cats are up in our area. One neighboring farm reports they lost 10 cats over the past 3 weeks! We're all very sad over the loss of our dear kitty.

I absolutely understand that life for an outdoor cat is fraught with dangers, and we've tried to mitigate some of them. We have good fences, outdoor lights, and two large dogs who roam the yard at night. We try and keep the cats close to the house. On the few occasions I've caught cats well off our property, I locked them up overnight for a week or two, long enough to allow the urge to roam to pass. And right now, our remaining cats are being locked in overnight. However, we need working cats, and locking them in all night wipes out their prime hunting hours. I also happen to think that outdoor cats live more contented and healthier (dangers aside) lives then indoor cats do.

So again, if you have outdoor cats, what steps do you take to minimize the dangers? Have you been successful? If you lose one, do you look at it as an occupational hazard or something more? Have you lost (m)any?
 

Baymule

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I don’t have cats. Our son in law is allergic to them. I like cats, have had cats. Our female Great Pyrenees is a cat killer also, so no cats here. I understand your concern and trying to give your cats a good life and keep them safe. Unfortunately kitty snacks are a favorite of predators. I think you are doing an awesome job of keeping your kitties as safe as possible, you just can’t protect them from everything.
 

secuono

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If they stray or cross the road, nothing you can do. Desex, feed well, dote on them & hope for the best.
I feed mine very well in the barn & love on him to bits! He loves hanging out with the lambs & playing with them. Can only hope he doesn't wander too far where a fox or something could get him. His mom was killed late last year and his uncle only lasted 6mo....He's 2~ this year. No collar to get hung up on, no unnecessary drugs.
 

CntryBoy777

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We have found that there are many reasons for concern, but few can be "controlled" when it comes to felines....some, especially males...nuetered or not....are "territorial"....some are loners and some ya can't runoff if ya tried..... 🤣 .....the list of actual "predators" can certainly depend on "location", but a smaller cat can be gotten from the air, too....cats have super senses and are rarely "cornered"....providing areas of "shelter/escape" for them can help....if your area is known for "dropoffs", there will always be stray dogs....we have had cats wherever we have lived....they will usually hang close, to a "food source" on a routine....we have lost some to gators, snakebites, vehicles, shot, and health issues....a couple have been poisoned...but, there also is their health....some are more sickly than others....also, you don't get to "name the leader" they have to "work it out".....I will say....in all that we have had....I only had one that I could "call" and he would come from wherever he was....he made it to 9yrs old, but died with an infection from a wound.....oh, cats are nocturnal and closing them up at night could defeat the purpose of rodent control...cause that is when the rodents are "active".....if something "happens", then forgive yourself and know it was not in your control....ya "treasure" the memories and look to make more....there is another "furball" just waiting to remind ya, ya ain't no cat....we had some that worked together to get a squirrel....I had never seen that before....anyway, if predators are heavy then as spacious a space as ya got...barn or feed area....if there is "action" they'll be "on the job"....🤣
 

LMK17

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I think you are doing an awesome job of keeping your kitties as safe as possible, you just can’t protect them from everything.

Thanks, I appreciate the support. I'm just kicking myself because I had a hunch that if one of the cats was going to stray, it would be that one. Of the outdoor cats, 3 are fully happy to hang out in the yard, wouldn't want to come into the house, and never go out of the yard. But the missing kitty & her buddy slip through the fence occasionally for cat adventures over in the neighboring woods (300+ acres of wilderness & wildlife). Plus that cat occasionally comes inside. Two nights before she went missing, she spent the night sleeping on my daughter's bed, and my daughter had asked for her to come inside the night she disappeared. The house was already locked up for the night, so I said no. What I wouldn't give to go back in time and change that to a "yes!"

The only thing I’d do different is lose the collars. They can get hung up and can cause a strangulation hazard especially on cats.

Our cats only wear safety collars, either the ones with the big breakaway clasp or fully elastic collars. Considering how often they slip their collars, I'd say they're pretty safe.

I like the collars because they carry ID & rabies tags. Most folks around here aren't going to pay much attention to a stray cat and are even less likely to take it to be scanned for a microchip (which all of mine do have). In the event someone finds one of my cats, I hope the collar & tags are still with the kitty and facilitate a quick return. Plus, the tags jingle and make it easy for me to keep track of the cats on my own property.
 

LMK17

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I will say....in all that we have had....I only had one that I could "call" and he would come from wherever he was....he made it to 9yrs old, but died with an infection from a wound...

I actually managed to train all of my outdoor cats to come when I call. Just hardly ever call them in without a tasty treat. That's one reason I'm so sure this cat is gone for good; even when I caught her on the other side of the fence, she never went more than maybe 30 yards in, and she always came as soon as I called.

I do feel pretty good about the lives we give our animals. And in the case of the cats, every one of them came from a less than ideal situation into a loving home. So there's that. Still sucks to lose one though.
 

Beekissed

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I lose cats to my neighbors. My two best cats are now~I'm pretty sure~prisoners of the neighbors. First the tom kept disappearing for long periods~which toms generally do, but mine didn't for 4 yrs of his life~and when he would come back he was no longer him...his personality had changed, he was no longer friendly and full of life. I'd love on him, calm him down and then he'd be gone for a long while...we suspected he was being kept indoors(MUCH too fat when he'd make it back home) and would slip out the door and escape now and again and come back to us....haven't seen him all winter long now. Then my mother went to visit the neighbor and came back to say they had a cat that looked exactly like our tom, living in their house. He's pretty distinctive...he's all white, short hair, with a funny displacement of his thumb on his front paws.

Then, his mate, a nice tabby and an excellent mouser, disappeared soon after we got her spayed. Four years she lived here, unaltered, and she was perfectly fine, always came home every day, etc. Soon as she was spayed, she disappeared and never came home again. I have a feeling the neighbors just got themselves another indoors cat. Some folks can't bear to see a cat living outdoors and feel no cat should have to live out there, so they "rescue" them. Very convenient that she was only rescued after she could no longer have kits.

So, I have no idea how to keep the neighbors from "rescuing" my outdoor cats. My cats are well fed, well cared for, healthy as horses and have a good home to come to where they are loved on....but since they are outdoors, I guess folks think they need "rescued".

I could go and ask for our cats back, but how do you prove a cat is yours if they live outdoors and roam the countryside? You can't unless you chip them.
 

OneFineAcre

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I currently have 2 cats. Both just kind of showed up here and after a while decided to stay.
First was Callie a young female who showed up as a kitten. After a couple of months she finally decided I was safe and let me pet her. So, after a couple of weeks she started staying around more and letting us pet her, we made her an appointment and got her fixed and shots. She really doesn't like to come in the house and still goes off for long periods. She is still a standoffish cat, not overly friendly. Sometimes we don't know if she will come back. She is a first route mouse killer.
The 2nd cat is Church a big grey male. I named him Church after the cat in the book/movie Pet Cemetary. A blue boy as a friend called him. There's a breed called Russian blue and I guess that's what he is mostly. He hung around for probably 2 years eating food off of the deck before one day just out of the blue he decided he wanted to be friends. And when he became friends he was really friendly. He spends most of his days in the house now. We took him and got him neutered an all of his shots and they said he was about 5 years old, and he is FIV positive. One of his ears is kind of messed up and he's got this permanent tilt to his neck. and when they had him sedated I asked them to check his mouth because he chewed food funny and they said his teeth were missing on one side. Pretty sure Church had tangled with a vehicle at some point. That's kind of how he got the name Church. He is a sweeet boy now. Loves everyone here in the house. He's about 50/50 indoors outdoors.

But, to your question, I don't know how much I can do to keep these 2 strays safe. Just try to take care of them as best I can.
 

chickens really

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You mentioned liking to hear the jingle from the cats collars. That's actually like ringing the dinner bell to any predator. They have fantastic hearing.
My Cat will be 9 years old and strictly outdoors. We have a cat door into my attached garage that stores all my goats feed and gardening stuff. She has a heated cat house and is fed nightly. We have coyotes and Fox around here and she is still alive. We have lots of trees for her to climb if she needs to escape from something.
 
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