This week, we’re delighted to welcome guest writer Lucy Hoile, MSc CCAB, feline behaviourist. Lucy gives us five ways safe access to the outside can benefit your cat and their behaviour...
"As part of my job as a cat behaviourist, I see plenty of cats kept exclusively inside or those with free access outside, many of which are very happy and are suited to the lifestyle they find themselves in. However, it is not uncommon for me to see a cat kept exclusively inside for their own safety, who would be happier with some safe outside space. ProtectaPet supply some fantastic cat friendly fencing and I have seen first-hand the direct improvement this has had on a cat’s wellbeing. Here are five ways in which safe access outside can hope improve behaviour problems.
1. Multi-cat households: the additional physical space available expands the cat’s territory and reduces tension and aggression between cats in a multi cat household. They then have more opportunity to avoid each other, reducing the social pressure inside the home and helping them get along the rest of the time.
2. Enrichment: the outside world often provides a huge amount of stimulation and opportunities for cats to display their natural behaviours such as climbing, jumping, object play and hunting. This can help reduce the occurrence of aggression towards people who can often become targets for cats with excess energy. It also takes the pressure off the owner trying to meet 100% of their cats’ natural needs inside the home.
3. Territory: having the option to leave home for a while can help cats cope with sources of stress. Changes to the home such as renovations, redecorating, new people or pets joining the household can be extremely stressful and contribute to the development of stress related problems such as urine marking, toileting in unwanted places, aggression, excessive grooming and more. With an opportunity to access a safe outside space, the changes are not so stressful, reducing the development of these problem behaviours.
4. Safety: a safe outside space provides cats with an additional toileting area. All cats are different, and many are happy to consistently use a litter tray. However, others can find this problematic and find their own toiling areas, often at the disappointment of the owner. Outside, the cat can choose their own place to go that is not going to upset their owners, and ProtectaPet fencing will ensure they don’t upset the neighbours too.
5. Reduced stress: furniture scratching is a common problem among cat owners as it is an essential part of feline behaviour. However, there are plenty of natural substrates cats can use outside the home to mark their territory and maintain their claws such as fence posts and tree stumps. Having this option makes it a lot easier to channel this behaviour into a more appropriate outlet than the sofa or carpet."
Lucy Hoile MSc CCAB is a feline behaviourist helping owners overcome their cat’s problem behaviours. If you would like help with your cat, please see www.lucyhoile.co.uk. Follow Lucy on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lucyhoilefelinebehaviourist/ for more advice and helpful information.