Help! My Cat’s Gone Missing!

Today, I want to talk about cat’s disappearing. We all see signs and posters up on telephone poles and sign posts, especially this time of year, saying “Cat Missing,” or “Lost Cat.” Sometimes there’s a reward offered. Other times a plea to return Fluffy because, “we love and miss him.”

smokey-004So why do so many cats go missing and how can we protect our own cats? First and foremost, do as so many pet experts say, “Keep your cats inside.” I know, I know, some cats just won’t tolerate being cooped up, even in a spacious home. My mother’s cat—the cat I patterned Rags, the klepto cat in my story, Catnapped, after—is one of those. From day one, when Smokey was a wee kitten, he wanted to explore the out of doors. Even though he has a background as a relaxed Ragdoll cat, there’s something in his genes that makes him almost have to explore the outdoors—like he’s some Crocodile Dundee cat or something. The only time he’ll stay inside of his own volition is when it’s raining and then he pouts all day. (And since he lives in Southern California, there are not very many rainy days.)

What are some of the dangers for outside cats?
• Traffic.

• Poisoning—accidental as well as on purpose. (Folks, some of your neighbors hate cats.)

• Neighbors might be on a trapping rampage to get rid of the cats that roam into their yards.

• Cats get closed inside sheds, garages, barns and so forth.

• Cats have been known to climb into a truck, trailer or car and end up traveling for miles and miles.

• There are natural predators (coyotes, wolves, owls, eagles, hawks) and domesticated ones such as dogs and even larger cats protecting their own territories.

• And as in my story, cats are vulnerable to being catnapped for a variety of purposes—because they’re pretty or thought to be stray, to be used in experiments or as mousers where rodents are a huge problem, for example.

So what can you do to keep an outdoor cat safe? Ideally, you will force the issue of him staying indoors until he gets used to the idea. (Yeah, good luck with that one.) Cats can be extremely determined. I know one in my neighborhood whose human still can’t figure out how she was getting out. It’s as if the cat had the power to become liquid and ooze through the keyhole or under the door when no one was looking. This cat’s life ended at around five years when she was hit by a car.

Another great idea for giving in to the cat while keeping him safe is to build him an outdoor run with fenced in areas in the yard where he can romp in grass, chase butterflies and have other real cat-life experiences. This can be as simple or elaborate as you can manage. I’ve seen a couple of these wonderful “freedom” enclosures and have observed how much cats love them. Check these out:

If your cat really, absolutely MUST go out,
• Always, always bring him in before dusk.

• Feed at the same time each day so he’s more apt to be ready to come in at, say, 3:30 every afternoon.

• Offer playtime inside to help him use up some of that energy and maybe he won’t feel the need to go out so often or for so long.

• Provide lots of interesting things in your yard so he won’t wander. This might include cat toys, cat trees—jungle gyms, small trees he can climb, shrubs where he can hide out, flowers and other plants that attract lizards and butterflies. Always keep fresh water outside, but you may not want to feed him outside. If you do, he may be less eager to come in when he’s hungry.

• Install one strand of electric wire around the top of your 6-foot wood or rock fence. I’ve known cats to learn the benefits of staying in their own yards after just one mild electrical shock.

• Make sure he has an escape route in case of danger—a kitty door into the garage, for example.

Some argue that even inside cats are subjected to dangers. It’s true. And I will write a post about how to keep your inside cats safe. I also know that there are some cats you just can’t keep inside and keep your sanity and his. But if you allow your cat to enjoy the great out-of-doors, do consider some of these safety measures. Remember, you are the human in charge. Of course, you want to make your kitty happy. “Devoted Cat Person” is our name and spoiling is our game, right? But it is also your responsibility to keep your cat safe.

We’ve sold over 800 copies of Catnapped, A Klepto Cat Mystery in just a scant few months. If you haven’t downloaded your copy to your Kindle, you’re in for a surprise. We’ve just replaced the original version with an improved, updated, revised edition of the book. Read it now for only $2.99. Find out why cats in Hammond, CA were being catnapped. Get to know Rags, the charming klepto cat. You’ll gasp, you’ll laugh and you may shed a tear or two during some of the more touching chapters.

Reviews for this charming cozy mystery are coming in. We got another five-star review yesterday.

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