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- Get your cat microchipped by a vet or animal care professional before allowing him or her outside, and ensure that you update the microchip registration details when you move home or change phone numbers. In some cases, lost cats have been reunited with their owners many years after going missing, all thanks to their microchip.
- Neuter your cat before allowing him or her outside. Unneutered cats are prone to wandering long distances in search of a mate, particularly males, and many never find their way home. They are also prone to fighting and to contracting viruses such as FIV; read more here.
- Buy a safety (breakaway) collar and ID tag for your cat. For cats prone to loosing collars, purchase several so that you always have a back up collar.
- Install a cat-flap so that your cat has free access to your home, and is never left waiting outside for someone to let him or her in. This can be particularly important if your cat is running away from a threat.
- Allow your cat access to your back, rather than front, garden, as it usually far safer for a cat to stay within a network of gardens, rather than walk the streets.
- Purchase window protectors to allow fresh air into your home, whilst preventing escape and accidental falls. Install safety netting on balconies and roof terraces.
- Bring your cat inside at night, after his or her evening meal. If you are in bed, you may not notice that your cat is missing or hurt until morning, and road accidents involving cats often happen at night.
- Keep your cat inside with the cat-flap locked if you are going to be out of the house for a long period.
- If your cat is being visited daily in your home by a cat-sitter whilst you are away on holiday, keep the cat inside with the cat-flap locked for the duration of your absence. Cats are more prone to wander if they have no-one to return home to for much of the day.
- Introduce cats to a new garden very gradually, after 1-3 months in their new home and under supervision at first. Cats should be at least six months old, neutered, microchipped, and fully vaccinated before venturing outside for the first time.
- Always transport your cat in a sturdy cat carrier, ensuring that doors and fastenings are secure and not damaged or broken.
- Keep your cat inside during holidays involving fireworks, such as Firework Night, Chinese New Year, and New Year’s Eve. Fireworks may startle your cats into busy roads or cause them to hide, or to become disorientated and lost. Black cats in particular may be at risk in the month of October and on Halloween.
- Ensure you have clear, high-quality photos of your cat to circulate if he or she ever goes missing.
- If possible, check on your cat periodically – at least once every few hours – whilst he or she is outside.
If you live near a busy road –
- Consider cat-proofing your garden with specialised fencing, or creating an outdoor cat enclosure. Also useful for pedigree cats who are at particular risk of theft.
- Consider adopting a particularly street savvy, adult cat (such as an ex-stray).
- Consider adopting an indoor-only cat. Older cats, cats with special needs or a laid back temperament are often well suited to the indoor life.