Sometimes when I see my cats gazing raptly out the window, I wonder if they long for the freedom their ancestors had. In the past, many people believed that cats needed independence and should be allowed to roam freely outdoors, but opinions have changed over time. Cats that are allowed to spend unsupervised time outside face dangers such as ever-increasing traffic, exposure to poisons like antifreeze and pesticides, and may come in contact with infectious diseases spread by other animals. They may also become prey for wild animals, or get injured in fights with other cats. Outdoor cats are also more likely to pick up pests such as fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites.
Nowadays, most pet guardians feel that it is safest to keep their cats inside, and most veterinarians and humane organizations concur. In fact, the single biggest factor influencing life expectancy in cats is whether the cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, with cats allowed to roam outdoors having a significantly shorter life expectancy.
If you have a cat that yearns for the great outdoors, a portable cat enclosure is one option that allows your cat to enjoy being outside while still remaining safe from outside dangers and from becoming lost. Cat enclosures come in lots of different sizes and styles, and allow your cat to experience the sights, smells and sounds of being outdoors from a safe, confined area. Portable enclosures are very versatile and can be placed in yards or on patios and balconies, and most can be folded for easy storage when not in use.
Some tips for using an outdoor cat enclosure:
- If the portable enclosure is small enough, set it up inside your home first, and allow your cat to become familiar with it.
- Familiarize yourself with how the enclosure door opens and closes before you are outside trying to hold a squirming cat and open the enclosure door at the same time.
- Until you know how your cat will react to being in the enclosure, start off with short, supervised outings.
- If your cat enjoys and is comfortable being outside in the enclosure, gradually increase the amount of time you allow your cat to spend outside.
- If you place the enclosure in a sunny area, make sure your cat has a shady area to move into in case he or she becomes too hot, as well as access to water.
- Remember that cats should be monitored while in a cat enclosure, and of course, never leave your cats overnight in the enclosure.
I would never risk allowing my beloved cats to roam freely outside, but providing them with a cat enclosure is one way to enrich their lives by allowing them to safely experience the pleasure of being outside.