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8 Smart Steps to Keep Your Indoor-Outdoor Cat Safe in India

by Vetic Editorial
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Who are The Mythical Indoor Outdoor Cats?

Let’s get the bitter truth out of the way – if you have a cat who visits your home during meal time and naptime, you have an outdoor cat who likes to spend some time indoors. 

At the max, you can call them indoor-outdoor cats. They are, in no way, an indoor pet and they will never feel 100% comfortable or happy staying indoors. 

However, if you have a kitten (younger than 6 months) who visits you often, you might still have time to get them adjusted to a completely indoor environment. 

Just like some people prefer working from home and others prefer office environments, cats have their own preferences when it comes to their own “work-life” balance. Restricting them indoors is not advisable despite the dangers they face every day while living outside your home. 

Keeping Your Indoor-Outdoor Cats Safe in India

Now that you know you have an indoor-outdoor cat, we come to the biggest question all cat lovers keep asking again and again – “How do I keep my indoor-outdoor cats safe?”

As the care provider of 8 indoor-outdoor cats, I have some personalised tips for you to keep your cat(s) safe as well –

Provide Fresh Food and Water

a grey-white medium-long haired cat with yellow eyes mewing at the photographer. There are three bowls (pink, blue and red) of different sizes but all are empty. Indoor-outdoor cats require multiple bowls for food and water since they are often territorial and possessive about their food.

Replenish their food and water bowls at least twice a day. Make sure they have access to fresh food whenever they have the time to stop by! Will other outdoor cats eat “their” cat food? Yes! Is that bad? No! I believe in the simple motto when it comes to feeding outdoor cats – The more the merrier!

Put their feeding and water bowls in a no-conflict zone. This would include avoiding your neighbour’s doorstep, the shared garage space and the main entrance of an apartment building. 

If you have your own building/house, keep the bowls in an easy to access place where refilling and clean-ups are a no-hassle. 

Keep multiple bowls with at least 2 feet distance between each to avoid cat-on-cat conflict. 

Complete Their Vaccination

I understand how difficult it is to vaccinate cats, especially outdoor cats. However, it is A MUST if you want to keep your cat community healthy and protect yourself from unwarranted heartbreaks. 

To get your cats to trust you enough, it might take you between 6 months and 1 year! But it’s worth every second. Take it from the self-proclaimed cat lady! And once they begin to trust you, you can deworm your cats and treat their wounds as well. 

Protect your community cats from feline parvo, calicivirus and herpesvirus infections by repeating their CRP vaccines annually. Give them their annual anti-rabies as well at the same time to protect them from rabies and keep your neighbours relieved. 

Invest in Neutering and Spaying of Indoor Outdoor Cats

TNR (Trap Neuter and Release) is again another challenge for outdoor cat caregivers. However, to keep the number of your outdoor or indoor-outdoor from growing exponentially, you will need to focus on cat birth control

Neutering male cats will reduce fights and you will have happily roaming, and coexisting tom cats for years to come. 

Spaying will prevent unwanted pregnancies in kittens and cats. It will also prevent diseases and complications including UTIs, pyometra and false pregnancies. 

Preventing diseases in streetie cats is much easier than treating them.

Take Flea Protection Seriously

A male ginger cat standing on the grass and scratching the back of their left ear with their left back paw. Indoor outdoor cats often have fleas which call for flea treatment such as spot-ons.

I find it much easier to use spot-ons on all my outdoor and indoor-outdoor cats. One of the biggest reasons I rely on spot-ons is because they get rid of all fleas and ticks, which can hop onto my indoor cats and give them diseases as well!

Another reason you might want to rely on spot-ons is because they are cost-effective and super easy to apply! You can apply the spot-on solution while petting your cat and they typically do not understand a thing. 

One spot-on provides at least 28-days of protection unless there’s a deluge!

Get Them Breakaway Collars and Tags

A breakaway collar with a tag might seem a bit much, but this is necessary for multiple reasons –

  1. Your furball may be receiving food from multiple houses and if you are thinking of starting a particular diet or prescription food, you need to know where they are going. 
  2. If they leave the area (which male cats often do during the mating season) you have the chance of locating them. 
  3. If they fall sick or meet with an accident, you will receive the information and have the time to treat them. 

Use easy BREAKAWAY collars only since our feline gods love finding themselves in the most impossible places and if their collars get snagged, it can simply break off instead of choking them. 

I do not recommend giving cats pretty glow-in-the-dark or reflective collars unless they have an “Easy Breakaway” guarantee. 

PS: Include your contact information in their tag instead of putting the cute name you call them!

Keep Activated Charcoal and First-Aid Handy

Outdoor cats can get up to all kinds of antics. Although it’s quite impossible for a cat to poison themselves, they may accidentally consume something toxic!

If you know the signs of toxicity in cats, you can give them the first dose of activated charcoal after asking the vet about the correct quantity. 

The same goes for emergency situations where you need to stop bleeding or stabilise a fracture before you can take feisty kitty to the vet. 

Which also reminds me, do keep a cat carrier handy for these situations. There’s no way you are transporting a cat to the vet on your lap!

Take Photos and Videos of Your Cats!

In case you cannot find your indoor-outdoor cat, you will need a photo reference to ask your neighbours. Not everyone will remember the “Cute white chubby cat with the black spot on the head”. 

And, honestly, God kind of ran out of options while printing cats, so we have to work with a very limited repertoire of adjectives. Take clear photos and videos whenever possible. Use them to locate your cat in case they don’t show up for lunch or dinner. 

Set Up Easy Access Routes for Your Cats

A black, indoor-outdoor cat, with green eyes coming through a cat flap.

While you don’t need to construct a stairway for your indoor-outdoor cats, you should clear a path for easy access to the resources they need. 

Some people use step stools near their windows, while others install two or three wooden planks for their cats’ easy access to the indoors. 

In India, the concept of cat flaps isn’t as common, but you can find options on online e-commerce sites. Or, you can create your own version of cat flaps on your door or window for your feline friends. 

Additional Tip: Want more cats to visit your home? Grow a bunch of cat grass and catnip. You will find the entire community of cats at your doorstep at all hours of the day!

While I understand and acknowledge that these are not enough to keep any cat 100% safe if they are roaming outside without your supervision, these 8 steps will weed out most of the health and wellbeing risks that plague our indoor-outdoor cat population in India. 

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