Cat in the garden! Do you know how to secure your garden, as well as your pet cat?
With the summer and warm days approaching, we are moving to gardens and cottages together with our cats. We should be particularly careful in the case of a kitten or a cat that is visiting our garden and the outdoor areas of our house or cottage for the very first time.
For the cat, being in the garden is undoubtedly a big event. On the one hand, we can enjoy the cat’s playing, discovering, exploring, first hunting and the joy of the animal, on the other hand, a cat being in the garden can present many risks. Do you know how to eliminate any possible danger, how to prepare your garden for the arrival of a cat resident and what to keep in mind?
Allowing a cat into a garden, particularly for the first time, is not easy and it is often necessary to prepare the garden for the cat’s stay more than it may seem at first glance. And because breeders often make mistakes in this area, we have prepared a small itinerary of what not to forget for all cat owners.
Securing the place
First of all, we have to secure our garden with fencing. The cat must be aware of what is its territory and where it can move safely from the first moment outside. We should walk through the whole garden and check for any hidden places which may present a danger for our cat. These may include any crevices or uncovered space, such as wells or pits. We should also check the fencing to make sure the cat cannot squeeze under it and that there is, for example, no opening between the gate and the fence, allowing the cat to get outside. It is also advisable to choose higher netting, rattan screen or reed mat that the cat practically cannot get over. If we do not want to invest into this type of fencing, it is advisable to choose higher wire fencing over which the cat cannot jump. While it is possible that the cat will learn to climb over the netting using its loops, this should happen at a time when it is fully socialised in the garden, aware of its territory and the place where it belongs.
Outdoor cat scratcher
The cat needs entertainment and the option to use a scratcher outside as well. The outside world will keep our cat entertained, in particular by having the option to jump on butterflies, beetles and flies, chase birds and hide in the grass. We should, however, provide our cat with an outdoor scratcher. In this regard, we can choose from several options. If we have trees in our garden, the problem is practically solved as the cat will use those to scratch. During its first days outside, however, it is advisable to guide the cat. For instance, we can hang one of its toys on the tree, a mouse on a string, a stuffed toy or a ribbon blowing in the wind, attracting the cat’s attention.
If we don’t have any trees in our garden, we basically have two ways of providing our cat with the chance to scratch and sharpen its claws. The first option is to buy and firmly place a classic scratcher which is available in many pet shops. The other option is to prepare a so-called “cat tree” for our cat. All you have to do is get stronger tree branches left over as waste from pruning and assemble them into a fake tree for the cat, which we anchor securely. Again, it is advisable to hang the cat’s favourite toys, or ribbons or ropes on the tree which will attract its attention.
We must not forget about the outdoor toilet. While many cat owners do not care about it, they risk the possibility that the cat will establish its own toilet, for instance, on a maintained flower bed, or will go to the toilet inside the house. We can use classical cat toilets and litter, as well as a wider, solid, non-absorbent crate or a washtub with a layer of coarse sand. And we are done. It is also advisable to place the toilet as far from the flower bed as possible so that the cat clearly understands that it should go to the toilet in a different place from the first moment.
While the cat is a natural hunter, we have to think of feeding it when it stays outside. The first thing should be to provide it with clean water. It is ideal to place it close to the entrance to our house in a solid, for example earthenware bowl which the cat cannot knock over and the water will not spill even in stronger wind. Apart from water, we can provide the cat with a bowl of its favourite granules. It is even recommended to incorporate a sort of ritual into feeding the cat, for which we always call it. We can do it, for example, by clinking a spoon on the bowl, the sound of opening a bag of granules or a can or pocket. It is advisable to train this reflex and call from the first moment when the cat is outside. It can also be useful when we need to leave and do not see the cat anywhere.
Cats also love grass and greenery. Therefore we can often see it nibbling classic grass in the garden; it can also eat our herb bed. It is therefore not a bad thing to prepare its own small flower bed for the cat or provide it with a flowerpot with cat grass, valerian or catnip, which cats love, placed close to the entrance. These also help the cat with digestion so it will only benefit from it.
If it is possible in our house or cottage, it is advisable to install a so-called cat door in the door leading to the garden. The cat will be able to freely go outside and back home without limiting us by meowing or scratching on the door. Of course it is possible to firmly close the cat door, allowing us to control the time when the cat can freely go outside, as well as to prevent cold air from getting into the house through it during cold months or on rainy days.
What else to keep in mind? In the first days, it is advisable to allow the cat to the garden for one or two hours and to always be with it and around it. Show it everything, go through the whole garden with it and keep close to it. On one hand, the cat gains more confidence, and on the other, we are also calmer if we know what the cat explores and what it is interested in.
We also have to think about outdoor parasites, such as ticks. It is therefore advisable to start by taking the cat to a veterinarian who will most likely advise you to apply anti-parasitic pipettes which are dropped at the back of the neck to repel parasites. A special collar against ticks is another option, however, it is often not as effective and the cat may untie, tear or lose it when moving through a crevice.
We should also be careful about the flora which we grow in our garden. These include plants such as the oleander, or various toxic weeds which would not do the cat any good.
A cat staying in the garden is really not a problem. It is enough to keep following several basic rules and the cat can enjoy the cottage and the garden together with you, while you can enjoy its joy and hunter’s nature which it can fully manifest outside. If it brings you home a mouse or other prey, it is appropriate to always praise it, not to tell it off. It brings it to us out of a true cat love which nothing in this world can replace!