‘Contained’ – it’s not a word cat-lovers want to contemplate, yet a wide sector of society believe that cats are such a threat to our native wildlife they should not be allowed to roam off their owner’s property. As a result, just as dog owners are required to keep their pets under control at all times, the day may be coming when cat owners are faced with complying with the same regulations. If it happens – are you (and your pet) ready? We offer some helpful hints about how you can prepare for this eventuality.
Starting from ‘scratch’
If you’re not already a cat owner, or if you plan to adopt a cat in the future, it pays to know that some breeds are much happier to live in a contained environment than others. Ragdolls, for instance, are adored for their deep, soft coats, and for a temperament which means they’re more likely to choose lazing on a cushion to stepping into the big outdoors. If shedding is a problem for you, however, it may pay to steer clear of these big softies.
Persians are also ‘lazy’ loungers. With quiet personalities, they are unlikely to demand the outdoors but they do like company so if you’re working away from home, budget for two of these felines, and make time to give them the daily brush their long coats require.
Despite their big, muscular shoulders, the British Shorthair is actually a laid-back pussy cat at heart. Gentle, playful and friendly, it soon adapts to life inside the house, and can be happy with just the occasional visit into the ‘wilds’ of your backyard.
An undemanding cat is likely to be happy wherever you train it to live, and the Russian Blue fits this bill. Quiet and obliging, and very affectionate, it also sports a shorter coat, and when it does decide to voice an opinion, its meow is on the quiet side!
If a designer cat is beyond your means, don’t despair. By the time a cat reaches the age of three, its temperament is likely to be fully developed. Visit a cat refuge and take the time to become acquainted with some of the mature feline residents. Observe their behaviour, groom those that will let you near them, and pick out a puss that seems quiet and friendly. Cats kept indoors appreciate compan, so while you’re at it, look for a friend to bring home as well.
Already ‘kitted out’
If you already have a cat, it’s still possible to contain it while being kind, but think carefully before you embark on this expensive exercise. Although your fence may keep your cat in, it may not keep the neighbour’s dog out! Instead, consider a ready-made and roofed cat enclosure (think shade house but without so much shade). Stock it with the sort of entertainments your pet will enjoy such as a tree to climb and walk along, dangling toys, a bush of cat nip, a sandy scratch area, and a soft sleeping possie such as a sunny tussock.
Your cat can also enjoy the big outdoors if you teach it to walk while harnessed (but you will need to be on the lookout for roaming dogs and aggressive free-ranging cats).
If a backyard cat enclosure is beyond your means, bring the outdoors in with a cat tree-house positioned close to a window so your pet to gaze out. Surrounded the tree-house with cat-friendly pot plants including catnip and cat grass (grow-your-own cat grass kits are available from retail outlets). And don’t stint on the catnip mice!