Thursday, July 29, 2010

Safe Outdoor Cats

Safe Outdoor Cats
I'm sorry to hear that you might have give up your babies.  I'm so glad that you are trying to keep them safe.  Please consider a safe, cat-friendly outdoor/indoor enclosure before giving them up. 
You can put up a chainlink fence outside around a window in the house (put a top on the chainlink fence). Inside the house, put an enclosure around that window that extends into part of the room. That indoor enclosure should also have a top. The put a little cat door around the window.   So that way, the cats can come in and out, but not be mixed with the other pets. And the cat door will keep some of the heat/cold from getting into the house. 
Or if you have or can create a  spare room, then close off that room. That way the cats can come in and out of that room.
The indoor and outdoor enclosures and/or room can be set up to be cat friendly - scratching posts, carpeted "cat trees" to climb, some pet friendly grasses, etc.. Maybe some nice pando music * piped in.
I've even seen some really fancy indoor enclosures with little fountains and streams.  Will see if I can find some examples on youtube when I get home.  Can't really get on there at work.
But in the mean time, here are some examples you can ponder.
Here is a house in San AntonioHouse with outdoor enclosure. This is probably made for birds and you won't need anything this fancy, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
Other ideas here:  Safe Outdoor Cats
Some people might think this is crazy, but think about it:  Get your cats used to a harness. Take them for  walks. Yes, people will look at you like you are crazy, but why not?  Most puppies hate a leash at first but once they learn how much fun it is to go for walks, they won't leave you alone.  Yes, your cats are already grown, but I've taught many adults dogs who have never been on leash before (including my own) to learn to like the leash.
Something else to consider if the harness idea just doesn't work for you - Musical rooms.  Lots of folks do it.  Put the other pets in a room or a couple of rooms or crates (I don't know the size of your house), then bring in the outdoor cats and spend time with them.  Then put the outdoor cats back out, bring out the other pets and spend time with them.  Do this about 3 times a day.  Might require you to get up a little earlier because you'll want to do this before work, but it might be worth it.  See what other activities you can cut back on to make this work.
Also talk to a behaviorist to see how you can integrate the two cats into the household.  It appears that your dogs are already cat friendly.  Maybe if you take baby steps - starting with the indoor enclosure, maybe the cats can eventually get along with the rest of the family.  Or at least perhaps they can all be out together when you are home to supervise, then separated when you are not at home.
Outdoor enclosures, behaviorists, etc.. - all very expensive, and times are tight for everyone.  But look at things you can sell or cut back on.  Try to find used chain link fencing, see what you can do yourself.  Depending on how determined the kitties are, you might be able to get by with 50 dollars worth of goat fencing and 30 dollars worth of posts to put something together yourself.  You can ask the customer service folks at Lowes or Home Depot to help with a plan
Or Google "How to Build a Cat Enclosure to see what you can come up with
Here is one example: How to Build a Cat Enclosure
* Pando Music - Dr Dan Kirby mentioned this product on his radio show.  He endorsed it.