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October 4, 2022

Top tips for feline friends this International Cat Day

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Henry lives a happy life as an inside cat. Photo Tree Faerie.

Some silly humans think that it’s money that makes the world go around – we all know it’s cats! (Just ask Instagram).

In honour of International Cat Day today, RSPCA NSW is sharing some tips and tricks on how to keep your feline friend happy, healthy and safe at home.

Earlier this year, RSPCA NSW launched Keeping Cats Safe at Home; a project assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.

The RSPCA have partnered with 11 local councils and will work closely with veterinarians, wildlife groups, and animal welfare organisations over the next three years to encourage pet owners to keep their cats safe at home.

The project aims to shift community behaviours and attitudes about what it means to be a responsible cat owner and to protect our native wildlife.

Roaming can be very dangerous

‘Darrrrrrrrling – there is no roaming for this feline fella,’ says Henry. With food, entertainment and even a pot of indoor grass to chew on – he knows who rules the world. Photo Tree Faerie.

RSPCA NSW Keeping Cats Safe at Home Project Manager, Dr Gemma Ma says we know that roaming can be very dangerous for cats. ‘Unfortunately, we see this daily through our RSPCA NSW shelters and veterinary clinics, and we want to support, encourage and equip cat owners to successfully transition their cats to a safe-at-home lifestyle.’

While the project’s initial research showed that at least 50 per cent of people contain their cats indoors or through outdoor enclosures, there is still a long way to go.

‘A cat kept safe at home will live on average 10 years longer than a cat that is allowed to roam. It’s vital that we see the figure of people keeping their cats contained increase, to improve the lives of our cats and our wildlife,’ said Dr Ma.

Kitty tips and tricks

If you’re on the fence about keeping your cat inside, or want to make the transition but don’t know where to start – the below tips and tricks are for you.

Timing is everything – Transitioning to staying at home will take time, so remember to take it slow and be patient. Allowing your cat plenty of time to get used to a new routine can help minimise frustration and increase your chance of success.  It can help to start by keeping your cat inside at night, and gradually increasing the time they spend at home during the day. Taking advantage of times when your cat will naturally prefer to be inside can also make the transition easier, such as moving house, feeding time or when it’s cold outside.

Microchip your cat – Whether your cat already lives inside or you’re beginning the transition process, it is vital to register and microchip them, should they escape or become lost. Cats can often go unclaimed from shelters and pounds, as there is no way to contact their owner if they have no form of identification.

Responsible outdoor time – Being an indoor cat does not mean that your furry friend can’t ever go outside again! Outdoor time can be provided using cat enclosures or cat-proof fencing so that they can get some fresh air and soak up some sun, all while being safe from danger and disease. Some cats can even be trained to explore outside on a harness.

Cats need to scratch – If you don’t provide your cat with scratching surfaces they will find their own (most likely your furniture!). Some cats prefer horizontal scratching surfaces,  others prefer vertical, and some like both.

Henry loves a good game of hide-and-seek. Photo Tree Faerie.

Provide environments to hide and explore – Cats are middle-order predators, which means they can be both predator and prey. This explains a lot of their behaviour – they need to hunt, but they also need to feel safe and are always prepared to run, hide, get up high and fight to defend themselves if required.

Provide opportunities for predatory play – Cats evolved to hunt and eat small prey throughout the day, so eating one or two large meals out of a bowl can be unsatisfying. You can provide an enriching hunting experience by hiding or scattering food, using puzzle feeder toys, and feeding small amounts throughout the day.

Keep cuddle times short and gentle  Cat skin is much more sensitive than ours, so pats can be overwhelming at times. Felines prefer gentle interactions and it’s important to build your cat’s trust by allowing them to initiate and control physical contact.  Consent for cat cuddles is important!

Ensure your cat is desexed – As the temperature rises, feline intake at RSPCA NSW increases by eight times, and up to 500 kittens can come through our doors each week. In just two years, a pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 kittens. Desexing is vitally important to prevent unwanted pregnancies and keeps your beloved feline friend healthy.

As cat owners, we can make changes that not only have a paws-itive impact on their wellbeing and safety, but for our wider community too.

‘Ok, enough of this meow – contact the RSPCA for more information. I need a nap’. Photo Tree Faerie

More information and tips on how to keep your cat safe at home can be found via the RSPCA NSW website and by signing up to The Cat-ch Up! for regular cat behaviour and enrichment segments from RSPCA Behaviour Veterinarian Dr. Findy Wills.

Thinking of adopting a cat this International Cat Day? All cats available for adoption at RSPCA NSW shelters can be found online at www.rspcansw.org.au/adopt.

 


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Humans scratrch around, to coin a phrase, looking hard, looking for money while cats scratch around looking for love so so softly. Ahh, peeerrrrrrrfect.

    • Looking for the money to pay for the food, heat, shelter, etc that our cats enjoy. If we all laid around like cats, we would have our communist utopia final.

  2. By and large cat owners don’t have a lot of regard for the effect their pet has on wildlife. Otherwise they wouldn’t have a pet cat in the first place. It’s very unlikely their pet does not kill wildlife, unless kept inside or in a cat enclosure at all times. Best outcome for wildlife would be a nation wide, intense feral cat cull, in conjunction with a ban on domestic cat sales and breeding.

  3. We have been very lucky to have over the years 6 wonderful rescued cats. Only after having cats did i realise what diverse personalities they have. Once when family members were overseas I had 4 cats and 2 terriers here. Most of them had lived together at various times. Anyhow they got on together really well, often snuggling up together to sleep, especially with the male dog.

    Occasionally my cat goes outside with me in the morning and eats grass. But under my watchful eye, he soon goes back inside with me. He was once very shy but is very affectionate and smart, and is now 19 yrs old. In warmer weather I don’t let him out in case he chases a lizard or snake.

    Cats can be wonderful companions for people, so John, you should not be ‘so hasty’ in your condemnation.

  4. Just want to tell everyone how good pumpkin can be for cats. We rescued an overweight, arthritic, lovely natured Burmese cat. He suffered from constipation, but for many years he was fine from just having cooked pumpkin in his diet. His owners had surrendered him to be euthenased.

    He lost weight here, and became so agile he could jump onto the bed where of course he would snuggle up. Often he would just run through the house like a race track.

    Some cats like well cooked mushed/ground peas or corn.

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