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Cat Enrichment - Preventing Escape & Walking a Cat on a Leash

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As a volunteer at a local shelter, I overhear conversations pet parents have with members of the staff on a regular basis. Considering the high volume of cats and kittens that are in the shelter, particularly in the warmer months, it's common to overhear conversations about a family cat going missing because it's referred to as an indoor/outdoor cat. While not all the time, a statement along the lines of "we simply can't keep our cat indoors, it's not in his nature," is something staff members and volunteers have heard frequently enough to anticipate it.

I remember my own childhood and the cat we cared for that my dad believed shouldn’t be “held back” by staying inside. She would roam, being gone for days at a time. Eventually, she’d find her way back to us, rub her chin against our legs, find the bowl of dry food, and be off on her next adventure. Her name was Tia, a bright eyed calico with the sweetest mew and even sweeter personality.

One day, she was gone. Poof, no longer swinging by for a visit and chin scritch. We waited and waited, days turned into weeks and the family resigned itself to the conclusion that she probably wouldn’t be coming back. Her sweet personality lended itself to us believing she had been snatched by another family but, we could have easily convinced ourselves of that reality because it was easier than considering the outcome that she had been harmed by an animal or been hit by a car.

Since then, TONS of research about feline family members has been conducted by veterinarians, shelters, and behaviorists. This research has helped many have a better understanding of ways we can enrich the lives of our cats, allowing them to be happy while also allowing them to comfortably stay as indoor only felines.

In light of the PetHub mission to keep pets happy, safe and HOME for the rest of their lives, we recognize the value in providing an enrichment-filled lifestyle for cats. There are resources for doing so on many shelter sites, including Best Friends Animal Society. It’s also great to know that many of these resources list options that are low-cost to pet parents.

Our friends at PetSafe helped to put together two different articles on their own site that we think you’d like to read. The first, 5 Ways to Keep your Cat from Escaping shares information about toys, tactics and considerations about spay and neuter to help ensure a family cat stays home and safe. We recommend you take a look and also consider some of their enrichment toys, like an interactive laser toy that I know Tia would have loved if it were an option when she was in our family.

I know many folks have heard of “catios,” an enclosed structure that allows cats to explore the sights and sounds of being outdoors without the risk of escape or injury. While an amazing option for cats, it may not be feasible for pet parents to create for financial reasons, structural restrictions, or their living environment (if a person is renting, for example, they may not be able to build a catio).

Have you ever considered taking your cat for a walk instead of building a catio or in addition to having an outside structure? It’s a great alternative to having an indoor/outdoor cat and there are lots of ways to ensure a cat stroll is done safely for all involved. Hop over to PetSafe’s article “Can Cats be Walked on a Leash? (Yes, and it’s Not Weird)” for tips on how to bring a leash into your cat’s life smoothly and stress free!

We want to thank PetSafe for helping pet parents to consider safe ways to ensure our pets stay happy, safe and HOME for the rest of their lives. Their site has plenty of other helpful articles for you to review when you have some free time, too.

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