We all know that the safest place for a cat to live is inside your home. However, sometimes that simply isn’t possible. There are times when circumstances dictate that, no matter how much you love your cat(s), they must spend all or most of the their time outside.
For us, our inside cat (Alexa) simply could not and would not tolerate other cats coming inside. When our current outside babies came along, Alexa already had complete and total run of the house. To bring any inside would surely incite a riot. I honestly just don’t trust any of them not to fight and it would break my heart if any harm came to any of them.
Fortunately, Hannah, Jelly Bean, and Queen Fatima seem perfectly content with the arrangement. After all, their outdoor crib is the only one they know. We’re very lucky to live in a remote area with a garage they have access to 24/7 – as well as two abandoned barns they LOVE to hang out in. The garage and the barns have lofts that Jelly Bean and Fatima love to sleep in. Hannah prefers to sleep on the carport, so I keep a warm, elaborate tent for her during the cold months. When it gets super cold, she joins the others in the loft.
If your cat or cats also have to live outside, realize that there are steps you can take to protect them, keep them safe, and even help them live longer. Below are my own tricks and tips of the trade that I’ve adhered to through many years of being a cat mom:
- Like inside cats, make sure your outside cats eat primarily cat food. People tend to think of outside cats, often, like dogs. They’ll throw them scraps as they would a German Shepherd. Cats have very dainty, complex digestive tracts and cat food products are designed especially for them. It’s the food they should be given the majority of the time.
- I’ve never put collars of any sort on my outside cats. Some people do, and swear by it, but I’m scared by the thought of the collar getting caught on something. Again, we live in a remote area, so I don’t have to worry about name tags, dog catchers, or anything like that. If I did, I’d find a “break away” collar.
- Give your outside cat LOTS of escape opportunities. Not only is our yard full of trees, but my husband keeps the garage door open just large enough for our cats to slink into. Nothing larger can follow them into the garage.
- On the carport, I have tall black shelves that our cats can also jump onto if a skunk, possum, or raccoon spooks them.
- Keep all motor oil, weed killers, car wash, etc. put far away from nosy cats. Also, be sure to spray (with a hose) any residue left behind. These products can be poisonous to inquisitive cats.
- Outside cats need love and attention as much as indoor cats. Make sure to set aside certain times each day to visit with your outside babies – even during the winter. Bundle up and cuddle up!
- Outside cats generally get some exercise on most days – often by chasing feathered or furry prey! However, they need physical activity and play just like our inside cats do. We tend to think they get all of the entertainment and exercise they need by living outdoors, but think about it: They pretty much see and do the same things over and over again. Mix things up for them by buying special cat toys, cat nip, scratching posts, and so on. Give them new things to see, smell, and do.
- I’ve always given our cats a combination of dry and wet cat food. I also give them food/treats that are good for their teeth.
- Always, always, always provide fresh, clean water and lots of it. In the winter, be sure to check on their water throughout the day.
- Make sure your cats have a safe, dry, warm, and comfortable bed. Cats love their beds as much as we humans do! Their beds are very important to them. Make certain that your cats have soft beds that are always dry. Place the cat bed where your cat likes to sleep or hang out. Realize that cats, generally, don’t want their bed in high-traffic areas. The thing a cat hates more than anything is feeling vulnerable. Put the bed in a safe, out of the way spot – preferable off the ground – or under a table or tent! See Cat Beds.
There’s no reason your outside cat can’t live a long and wonderful life. Our outside cats are beautifully healthy and happy and always live for many years. We’ve always had at least one inside diva cat (Prissy, and then Alexa) who refuses to allow feline company – so we’ve always had outside babies as well as the inside “spoiled” girls!
Love your cats, whether they’re inside cats or outside, with all you have and think about them and their happiness throughout the day – not just when it’s time to feed them. Remember, they need attention and affection as much as they need water and food.
Finally, I wanted to make sure you knew about Pet Health Insurance. This is a UK based business and can be a great, great service to cat parents.