by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Confining a cat without making your home a fortress can seem an almost impossible task. Cats are intelligent, curious, agile, and fast enough to make the most of any small opportunity to do something different or go somewhere new. A scare, fright or fear can also cause cats to look for alternative places of security.
All cats, including indoor cats, should be microchipped. Collars with tags are good too, although many cats reject collars or manage to lose them. Collars should be tight enough not to come off but loose enough for the cat to move comfortably; the gap between skin and collar should allow for two (adult) fingers to be inserted – any tighter is too tight and any looser is too loose. Check the collar fitting on a regular basis, especially for kittens and young adults.
Catios, enclosed outdoor spaces, are great for cats to enjoy themselves, learn and experience natural surroundings. These can be as small as an enclosed window box or balcony, or encompass a large area of the garden.
Reducing the likelihood of roaming or deliberately running away is the key to keeping most cats at home. There are always those cats who need bigger territory and more exciting adventures.
Does your cat need more territory? How can you create this for him – look to vertical spaces as a way of increasing space.
Are there sufficient resources for him? These include litter trays, food, water, bed, etc. that are not used by other cats.
Does he need a safe quite space to snooze in comfort? Create a place at home where he can rest without being disturbed.
Stimulation, or things to do, is important to combat boredom and keep him physically and mentally active. Scratchposts, boxes, toys, puzzle or interactive feeders, are good starting points. A bird feeder at safe range provides a certain amount of interest.
Movement is an essential part of stimulation. Create places to climb, jump, run and scratch. Dedicated play time each day is good for your relationship too!
Does he need company? Leave items that smell of his favourite family member for him to sleep on during the day. Music or DVD’s can help cats who feel the need for company. Maybe get him a companion.
If none of these ideas appeal to him, a tracking device on a collar may be the best option. Investigate which will be best for him, small, light-weight, and waterproof is essential. Some tracking devices use cellular data and others wifi; ensure that there is sufficient coverage in your area, or where you might take him, and that the range offered is large enough to find him.