Cats are notorious for being difficult to train, especially if they are living primarily outdoors. Some cats just want or need to be outside all the time, but how exactly do you keep an outdoor cat from running away?
Cats are great hunters and many actually prefer to live outdoors and they do tend to explore their surroundings.
Depending on the area, roaming too far can be extremely dangerous for a cat, even an outdoor one. Keeping a cat close to home is the best way to keep them safe from harm.
There are several things that can be done to deter outdoor cats from running away and possibly getting captured, injured, or simply finding a new home.
Here are some tried and true methods that will encourage your cat to stay close to home.
Get Them Spayed or Neutered
Getting a cat spayed or neutered is not only great for preventing procreation, but it also keeps them closer to home.
Male cats that are not fixed will constantly stray from their homes in search of females. When a female cat is in heat, she may stray multiple times a year in search of a male.
Being in heat or sensing a cat in heat close by will not only cause them to travel far from home, but it can be extremely dangerous for them as they may not find their way home.
Feral cats and other outdoor cats may be difficult to catch, but having this done is the best way to keep them close to home.
A cat that is fixed will not have the urge to leave in search of a mate ever again. They will be much friendlier and far less likely to run away.
Let Them Get Acclimated
Outdoor cats need to get acclimated to their surroundings before you set them free to roam about. When you get a new outdoor cat or move to a new location with an outdoor cat, it is important to keep them in an enclosure for a few days to a few weeks.
This acclimation area can be indoors, in a garage, or other enclosed area where they are fed and cared for daily. A large crate with room for daily food and a litter box will work if there are no other options.
This will teach them know where home is and they will be more inclined to come back after they are released.
A few days to a couple of weeks should do the trick, but the time needed will essentially depend on the cat.
Calm cats that are comfortable in their surroundings will be less likely to run away when released than a stressed-out cat that is looking for a way to escape. Continue to feed and water them in the same area so they come back to the same spot each day.
Feed Them Daily in the Same Area
It is true that if you feed a cat, they will probably never leave. Outdoor cats can hunt for their food, but they still will need daily rations of regular cat food for the bulk of their meals.
Most outdoor cats will find their way back home when they know it is supper time. You can also call for your outdoor cats the same way each day so they get used to coming back home to that specific sound.
Provide a Safe Shelter
Outdoor cats need a safe place to sleep at night as well as an area safe from bad weather.
To deter them from seeking shelter in other places, you can provide them a small cat house that they can hide in if needed. Put it close to where you feed them each day and make sure they have access to it 24 hours a day.
You can purchase a ready-made cat home, dog house, or you can create your own.
Many do-it-yourselfers cut cat-sized holes in the side of a large tote with lids to make a little home for their outdoor cats. You can even put bedding materials in the bottom to keep them comfortable and happy!
Provide a Warm Place in Winter
Outdoor cats will seek out warmth in cold weather, so their first option should be a warm place at home instead of somewhere else.
Give your outdoor cat enclosed area they will help keep them warm during the winter months. This will keep them from running away or ending up in someone else’s house or barn.
You can give them access to a barn, tack room, garage, shed, or other enclosure that will keep them warm.
Provide shavings, bedding, or warming blankets that will keep them from getting too cold. Move any outdoor cat homes you have bought or made inside the enclosed area for added warmth and safety.
Get More than One Cat
Cats enjoy being around other cats, so if you only have one outdoor cat, consider getting them a friend. Cats are social animals and they will be more likely to stay closer to home if they have a feline friend to keep them company.
Limit Loud Noises
Outdoor cats can get spooked by excessively loud noises. Fireworks, loud music, gun shots, or other exceptionally loud noises can scare off outdoor cats.
If loud noises are unavoidable, consider crating or putting the cat up during the activity to keep them safe.
Outdoor cats are great for keeping rodents at a minimum and even providing a level of protection for homes and farms. Some cats, including feral ones, are just meant to live outdoors, but that does not mean they will always run away.
If you do the things mentioned in this article, you will easily keep your outdoor cat close to home. Happy, spayed or neutered cats that know that they have a safe place to eat and sleep at will almost always come back home each day.
Keeping your outdoor cats safe is easier than you think, but it is important to do what you can to keep them close to home. Here are the sources used in this article.