NEW Prevention

What can you do to prevent another escape?

Bells. Bells. And MORE bells. Plus a secure and safe collar with ID tags. While an extremely skittish cat may not allow a stranger to come close enough to read the tag, at least anyone spotting a hungry looking kitty would know for sure it was someone's animal. Pet detective MoniQue would not have been able to retrieve her cat, Puppet, that had been maliciously trapped and relocated (along with 2 of her kitty mates) 3.5 miles away, if it hadn't been for the collar and ID tag spotted by a good Samaritan cat feeder.

Microchip your pets. If it weren't for a microchip, kitty Katka may not have gotten reunited with pet detective Jenne, after a three month adventure in drainage pipes.

Secure all windows, screens, and doors.

In addition to secure ID, make sure all guests, pet sitters, and hired workers at your house are aware that you have an animal and understand all the house rules concerning your pet.

Remind Rocky that doors are bad, bad, bad!

If your cat is an intrepid and enthusiastic door dasher, you might want to try a little negative association so your cat has bad feelings about going out:

1) Lock up the other cats in another room.

2) Have someone with an air horn (or some other very loud obnoxious thing) stand outside the door your cat commonly tries to escape out of.

3) Put a secure harness and lead on kitty. Hang on to the lead while kitty explores the house.

4) Have the person outside open the door, then stay at a location that is hidden from kitty, but with a good view of the door opening.

5) The moment kitty sneaks out the door and crosses the threshold, the person outside should let the air horn go off. Your cat should (if it is like most cats) run back inside. The harness and lead are a precaution. Repeat this every month or so to reinforce the negative associations.

Air horns are available in most sporting goods departments of discount stores (near boating and camping equipment). Some cats don't mind the feeling of a harness while others will try to roll around, attempting to get out. Simply put the harness on a few minutes each day before mealtimes. Cat will eventually associate harness with yummy food and walk around as normal.

Get a Remote Pet Locator Collar

MoniQue discovered a product called Innotek Remote Cat Locator. This device can be used on cats or small dogs and works similarly to key chain beepers that help you locate misplaced keys. When you press the remote transmitter on the Remote Cat Locator, the collar unit will flash a light and beep, helping you find that missing or hiding animal within a 100 yard range. The device also has a clicker sound option, if you want to integrate clicker training with the use of the locator.

Barbara, Sunshine's mom, recently purchased the Remote Cat Locator. In her evaluation, this device works as stated, but the collar is on the heavy side and if there is any distance between the pet and the locater, you must be in direct line of sight for the beeper to go off. So it's not perfect, but will do in a pinch.

NEW Product Next Year

The product I am anxiously awaiting is from Steve Wozniak's new company World of Zeus. It is an object locater that is based on brand new technology. At this time, August 2003, it still looks like another year away before it hits the store shelves...waaaah. The cool thing though is that they are expecting production costs for the wireless tags to be only $25 so maybe $100 retail is my guess, though the production cost of the base station wasn't stated. The radius of single station is up to 1 mile or 2! If you connect up a lot of other stations the range could be infinte (well maybe not over the ocean). But heck a mile is good enough for me. I just have to wait a whole year

"Reports describe the first of wOz products as location-monitoring technology designed to help users track children, animals and property using a combination of radio signals and global positioning satellite (GPS) technology, to keep track of things within a one or two-mile radius of a home base station. The base stations will be able to track dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of devices at once using wireless tags that cost less than US$25 each. The tags will be able to generate alerts that can then be relayed by phone or e-mail to let the wOzNet user known when kids, pets or property go on the move or out of a specific vicinity." — Infoworld

Secure your backyard

Allow your pet access to the exciting outdoors with the safety of a backyard enclosure. Humane Society of the United States has compiled a list of resources for a variety different products. MoniQue has had great success using a fencing product called Cat Fence-In for her multi-cat family of pet cats and feral rescues. If you decide to go with this manufacturer, she highly recommends the Combination Barrier, rather than the Strato Barrier for the urban or suburban house, moderate weather, and better eye appeal. Out in a rural area, with harsh weather, she recommends Affordable Cat Fence.

Should I leash train my indoor-only cat?

Skittish indoor-only cat should not be taken out — either on a leash or with supervision. The more skittish the cat, the more strongly I would caution against taking the pet outside.

Some people hope that by familiarizing a pet with the outdoors, it may not have the same panic stricken response as it would if the outdoors were virgin territory. In some cases, this may work, when the indoor-only has a calmer temperament. But for extremely skittish cats, even if you may be able to familiarize them with the outdoors in one set of conditions (supervised, on a leash, in the daytime, on a warm dry day, etc.), there is NO guarantee that another set of conditions (unsupervised, at night, rainy, and cold) would elicit the same calm response. There will always be the chance of automobile backfire, honking horn, dog, rain, lightning, etc. — perhaps to the point of complete cover.

In my experience the taste of the outdoors only whets the cat's appetite for more adventure outside and familiarizes your kitty to the entry and exit points of your house. The more familiar a cat is with the door, the more brave it may become about doing a door dash. The reason many people keep their cats indoor-only is because they know indoor cats live much longer and healthier lives, typically 12-18 years vs 4-5 years for an outdoor-access cat. Why expose your cats to the same dangers as an outdoor-access?

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