July has been designated as the Pet Lost Prevention Month. As we end July, now is the time to remind ourselves to take the proper steps to prevent losing our pets. Prevention is definitely the best medicine!
Get your cat a cat collar with ID tag
There are advantages to getting a collar and an identification tag for your feline friend. There’s always the possibility that kitty could accidentally escape the house. The collar will prevent people from misidentifying your lost cat as a stray and it makes it clear that your cat has a home. The collar will also help with identification when you engaged other people to help you search for your missing cat.
When it comes to choosing a collar for your cat, look for a quick-release, breakaway collar like this Zee.Cat Candy Quick-Release Cat Collar. These cat collars have a special quick-release safety buckle that breaks open if it is pulled with force. They protect kitty from potential dangers like neck strain, strangulation, or even death should her collar gets snagged on her daily adventures.
Some quick-release cat collar comes with a bell, like this FuzzYard Blitz Cat Collar. A belled collar ensures that your cat will always be heard, no matter how well it is hiding. However, if your cat is a nervous and reactive individual, a bell may not be a good idea. The constant tinkling of the bell could cause stress and anxiety. You know your cat best. So, choose accordingly.
Adding an identification tag on the collar with vital information like your phone number will increase the chances of having kitty returned to you when she’s found. You can get custom cat tags online and have your details engraved on the cat tags.
Microchip your cat
Microchips significantly increase the chance of a lost pet finding its way back to its rightful owner. The rescuer can quickly identify your cat’s name and your own contact details, and they can return your cat to you. Every veterinary clinic has a scanner, and any person that finds your missing cat can go to the nearest vet clinic to have the microchip scanned.
The rice-sized microchip is placed directly under the skin. The procedure is a quick injection, and the microchip is completely painless. Another advantage of having your pet microchip - if someone steals your cat, the microchip will prove that you are their rightful parent.
Secure your home
Indoor cats can easily become lost, as they’re unfamiliar with their outdoor environment. So, cat-proof your home – secure the doors, windows, and other possible escape route. Cat-proofing is not a new topic with cat parents. It is something that all cat parents will do for the safety of their feline kids.
However, wear-and-tear happens. During this Pet Lost Prevention month, do take some time to check the window screens, gates, and fences that you installed a while back. Make sure that they are secure, with no rips/tears, loose panels, or holes that your cat can squeeze through and escape. Cats are very flexible and can squeeze through pretty much anything.
If you want your indoor cats to have time outside, set up a playpen, or catio enclosure that will allow your cats to experience the outdoors while staying safe. Be aware of where your cat is, and do not leave her unattended.
Keep your cat happy
Stress, neglect, and abandonment are some common reasons why cats run away from home. The constant moving of furniture around, the arrival of a new pet or family member, or even just loud noises; these things can cause stress and anxiety in kitty. A stressed cat is more likely to seek refuge elsewhere. On the topic of neglect, if you are always leaving your cat home alone, or don’t provide them with the necessities that they need to survive, like food and fresh water, they may seek shelter elsewhere.
For busy cat parents, here are some things that you can do to keep your cat happy.
Set up a window perch. Cats love window perches. They’re the perfect option for homes without wide window sills. These perches allow our cats to sit back, relax and enjoy the entertainment outside the window. You can DIY, make your own window perches or place a cat tree next to the window.
Play with your cat. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. Switch the toys from time to time so that they seem "new" and more interesting to your cat. When you are busy or need to leave home for a few hours, leave out some interactive, self-play toys like the Kong Cat Active Chase Craze Cat Toy. A multi-functional toy like the PETKIT Corrugated Board Refill for 4-In-1 Cat Scratcher will help to keep things “fresh”.
Clean house (and toilet!). Cats can be neat freaks, so clean the litter box regularly. If you have multiple cats at home, set up multiple litter boxes if necessary to avoid conflicts and stress.
Food and fresh water. These are necessities that a cat needs to survive. Feed the cat and provide ample fresh water daily.
Spaying and neutering cats not only prevents overpopulation, but it significantly reduces the chances of them escaping and getting lost. Non-neutered cats, especially male cats, are more likely to try and leave the house, go wandering off to find a mate. Female cats who aren’t spayed will try to put their scent in as many places as possible for male cats to find, which increases the likelihood of them escaping and roaming the neighborhood. This can be problematic because they may continually try to escape. Neutering and spaying will relax your cats, preventing them from escaping and getting lost.
Train your cat to come when called
Many cat parents have proven that it’s possible to teach your cat to come when called. This is definitely a great way to get your cat to come to you and possibly, even prevent them from wandering off should you catch them escaping the house.
But how do you train a cat? Some people recommend using a cat clicker to train your cat. Whichever method you use, clicker or no clicker, at its core, cat training is teaching your cat to associate a desirable behaviour with a reward. If you know what motivates your cat, then you can train them.
If your cat recognises the sound of a treat bag, you can associate that sound with her name. You can shake the bag of her favourite cat treats while calling out her name. As you repeat this action – shake the bag of treats and call out her name - the association will become stronger over time. Eventually, when you call her name, she should come to you, with or without the bag of treats.
Do you have any other tips that may help fellow cat parents to prevent their cats from getting lost? Please do share and leave a comment. And, if your pet does go missing, check out this AVS (Animal Veterinary Service) webpage on What To Do If Your Pet Goes Missing.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.