Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 15, 2001


A happy cat like Oscar can live completely indoors,
safe from the hazards of the outdoor world.

Kitty’s safer when
kept indoors

By Hawaiian Humane Society

WE know that cats live three times longer when kept indoors. They are protected from the hazards of cars, poisons, dogs and even other cats. Yet, some people claim cats are "free spirits" and must be allowed to come and go as they please. They say it's not natural for a cat to be walked on a leash or confined to the house.

Others say it is impossible to keep their cat indoors; that they'll bolt through any open door or slip through holes created in the screen. Now we have new ideas on keeping our cats safe yet allowing them to live a bit on the wild side.

Provide your cat an outdoor enclosure or run with access through a window or pet door. She or he can still take advantage of being outside while minimizing the dangers. Building an outdoor window cattery is simple and pre-designed drawings are available at the Hawaiian Humane Society.

A new product on the market is a "cat fence." It is a unique style of enclosing your yard to make it cat-proof. This non-electric fence is a polypropylene netting barrier with mesh that won't rot or corrode. The netting attaches to the top of a traditional fence and forms a barrier that angles into your yard, providing an overhang that cats will not climb. The vertical component also inhibits animals from the outside entering your yard.

Believe it or not, cats can be trained to walk on a leash. Actually, it is called a cat harness and it fits around the cat's chest. To get your cat used to wearing a harness, let him or her wear it around the house.

Don't be alarmed if they start walking close to the ground. It's a new sensation that they have to get used to. Then after he or she seems to be more comfortable wearing the harness, attach a leash to it, and by using treats, you can teach your cat to come and go.

Before you know it, he or she will be lounging and laying while you read a book under a shady tree.

To help transition your outdoor cat to living primarily indoors, consider the following tips:

>> Bring the cat indoors gradually, by increasing longer stays inside the house. Make the time indoors especially fun with extra attention and tasty treats. Over time, the cat may adjust to longer periods indoors.

>> Provide a kitty condo or climbing tree. Some models extend from floor to ceiling, making use of vertical space in your home and adding to a cat's sense of adventure.

>> Install perches and shelves near windows to offer your cat opportunities to look outside. Place a bird feeder near the window to attract wildlife for your cat's visual entertainment.

>> Don't give up. While some cats may adjust quickly to life indoors, others may not. You may wind up with a few torn screens, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Special deals available for Love-A-Cat month

Each cat adopted from the Hawaiian Humane Society this month comes with a free three-pound bag of cat or kitten food from Nutro, a collar, ID tag, microchip ID and a cat carrier.

The cats are already sterilized and vaccinated. A certificate gets your new cat a free exam courtesy of the veterinarians at one of 45 Oahu clinics.

In addition, the regular $50 adoption fee for one cat will allow you to double your fun by picking two cats or kittens.

You can also get a coupon for a free microchip ID with purchase of a new Adopt-a-Cat T-shirt from Crazy Shirts at Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge or Haleiwa this month.

For more information, call the Humane Society at 946-2187.

Pet Ohana, written by the staff of the Hawaiian Humane Society, runs the first and third Fridays of the month. The society is a nonprofit agency dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals.

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