How to Keep Your Cat Road Safe
Some cats are natural explorers with busy schedules, others rarely stray a few metres from home. Periods of absence are not necessarily a reflection of your cat’s affection for you, things such as breed and personality can play a role, or even what neighbourhood cats are around forming an invisible barrier. Although some factors may be out of an owners control, do follow our advice on how best to encourage them to stay close to home - it is certainly achievable.
Keep Your Cat to a Set Schedule
Try to keep your cat to a schedule whereby they are inside when traffic is at its heaviest. To help encourage them to adhere to this, you can coordinate their meal times with rush hour. Also, make yourself visible to them every so often, give them a call every half hour/hour. Leaving your cat to fend for themselves all day whilst you are out could result in them going for a wander looking for food, shelter or out of boredom. Cats left to their own devices all day/night in cold weather, tend to seek warmth in car engines. This has led to countless cats being displaced miles from home...or worse!
Also, when you go to bed, so should your cats. Though many think that it's safer to let cats out at night when it's quieter, statistically, this is the most dangerous time for cats to be outside. Additionally, headlights are very confusing for cats. For all their strengths, cats are poor at measuring distance and speed, and may make a dash for safety once the headlights have passed, only to run into (or under) the rest of the vehicle. Cats' eyes also do not adjust to light as quickly as ours do, which means sudden bright lights can dazzle them and make them disorientated.
Motivate Your Cat to Stay Close
Cats are curious... as the saying goes. While they will most likely want to leave the garden, you can convince them not to stray too far with the right strategy.
If you cannot have a cat flap fitted, leave a door open or an accessible window when your cat is outside so (s)he can easily get back inside when desired. Also, make sure to feed and water cats regularly. Cats are less likely to wander if they are onto a good thing, so make sure that their needs are being met. If you suspect your cat has a 'second home', find out where this is and ask they do not feed your cat. Many cats cross busy roads to get to their 'second home'.
Turn your garden into a cat friendly space. Providing a safe and enriching environment will encourage them to stay close to home. Provide shelter from rain and comfy sunbathing spots for them. Large bare spaces can make cats feel vulnerable so provide hiding places and vantage points. Cats love anything new (if only for a week) so continuously provide more stimulation and entertainment for them to keep them interested. This could be something as simple as getting them a new cardboard box and placing it in a new spot in the garden.
Plant cat favourites such as Catnip, cat thyme and cat grass. Avoid temptation to encourage neighbourhood cats as they may appear as a threat to your cat. Your garden is your cat's territory, and it is important your cat feels safe and secure. However, if you suspect a cat might be a stray never hesitate from contacting your local rescue/shelter. Details of all your surrounding one's can be found here.
Consider a Compromise
Want to let your cat explore the sights and sounds of the great outdoors but just can't bring yourself to let them roam free?
Why not consider some of the middle of the road options available such as catios, roller bars and other cat containment fencing systems available - giving cats the best of both worlds where they can roam free outside, yet are less open to the dangers of the outside world. See the options available from the UKs leading enclosure company, ProtectaPet, here.
Outdoor cat checklist
Microchip your cat! Microchips are their only voice when outside your home. Cats are disposed of by vets/councils or re-homed because an owner could not be identified. Also, vets may refuse to treat a cat, beyond basic pain relief, should an owner not be traced.
Neuter/spay your cat. In tact cats are at much greater risk as they are more motivated to stray.
A collar with your details on. Based on extensive research, we cannot recommend reflective collars. While this *may* help with some drivers, statistics have shown that there is a good portion of drivers who intentionally aim for a cat and a reflective collar could make them a target. Only ever use quick release collars.
Fit a cat flap, a microchipped-operated one preferably. Allowing your cat to have quick easy access to their home will discourage the need to wander for food and shelter in bad weather.
A harness. New adult cats should stay indoors for 2-6 weeks so they can familiarise themselves with, and be comfortable in their new surroundings. In this period, walk them around their garden with the safety of a harness on. Go at their pace and let them investigate their new territory in preparation for going it alone.
Get in the habit of bringing your cat inside at bed times, and when you go out, early on. If you're not home, your cat should be.