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Cat Confinement

Authored by Mia McKenzie Dr. Michael Moyer October, 2013 The subject of cat confinement within the No Kill paradigm, like mandatory desexing, is greatly misunderstood. We define cat confinement as confining your pet cat to the boundaries of your property or within an outdoor cat run. The word 'confinement' does convey a negative connotation, but there are varied points that need to be explored. No Kill does not support cat confinement laws. Pet laws, like mandatory desexing, punish pet owners by fining them for not complying with the legislation. If the pet owner refuses to pay or cannot do so, the pet is seized and taken to a shelter. Pet laws increase a shelters intake unnecessarily, and given that Australia is dominated by shelters who do not implement life saving strategies, a higher intake equates to a higher kill rate. Pet laws provide no benefits to pets and they exacerbate the already contentious relationship between councils and pet owners. The PAW Project supports cat confinement where the pet cat has indoor and outdoor access. The outdoor access can be achieved by a fencing system, like the system provided by the Australian company, 'Oscillot' (see image below). A cat confinement solution that can be installed onto existing Colourbond, Good Neighbour, Post and Rail, Timber and Masonary fencing, and disables the ability of the cat to scale a fence. Outdoor access can also be achieved with closed circuit cat runs and enclosures. They allow the pet cat to have perpetual access to the outdoors and fresh air.
Catnip tunnel

In Australia, a company called 'Catnip' provide awesome modules, tunnels and accessories for your pet cat to access the outdoors.

Catnip Wall Module & London Bridge

Mia was fortunate to visit Michael Linke's home, CEO of RSPCA ACT in 2012, that consisted of an intricate cat run to entertain and enrich his seven cats. The cat run began at the back door and wrapped around half the house. It consisted of tunnels, an enclosure and the design enabled the cats to peep through the windows. The cat run provided fresh air, enrichment, safety, exercise and a solitary place to chill out from the dog, Dahlia.

It is essential for a pet cats health, both physical and mental, that they have access to both indoor and outdoor environments.

Dr. Michael Moyer is a shelter medicine expert and a practising veterinarian. In his clinical experience, while there are very clear benefits of indoor-only lifestyles for cats with respect to disease and injury avoidance, there is a tendency for indoor cats to develop diabetes mellitus, likely related to a sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Michael Moyer states that it is only very recently, twenty to thirty years, that animal advocates have taken up the argument of a strictly indoor lifestyle for the cat, even though it is accompanied with a potential increased health risk. He believes that indoor only for pet cats, with enrichment, is much safer on average than indoor-outdoor or exclusively free-roaming lifestyles. But, with indoor confinement, there can be a lack of stimulation and physical movement, resulting in an increase risk for diabetes and obesity. To counter that tendency, use of play structures, cat-safe fencing, and other methods of enrichment for the cats' environment are highly encouraged. There is more impoundment of cats than dogs across the nation, and as a consquence, more cats are killed than dogs. So the adoption (and even fostering) obstacles that relate to confinement, need to be explored to enable more cats to be saved and to be placed into home environments that are suited to the cats needs. More and more people are moving into high density living arrangements due to the increasing cost of living, like apartments that have no outside access. Given that we support indoor and outdoor living for cats, as No Kill advocates we also must explore adoptions to indoor only environments. We are becoming more imaginative in providing a substantially enriched life for indoor only cats. The 'Catnip' apartment outdoor wall module is a great idea to allow outdoor access for pet cats.

Owners are providing their pet cats with interactive toys, perches and elaborate obstacle courses. People are also walking their pet cat on a lead for exercise and enrichment.

The RSPCA ACT acknowledge the shift to higher density living and provide information on their website to assist people who wish to adopt a cat, but are living in an apartment. Click here: http://rspca-act.org.au/files/view/?id=234

Michael Linke states “We do not advocate that the cat is locked in confined space like a laundry, cat welfare is a priority. We want to ensure that cat welfare is looked after and we need to also consider the ramifications of excluding indoor only adoptions from our criteria.” The No Kill paradigm advocates for any options that increase life saving and animal welfare. No Kill shelters like Nevada Humane Society, who has a 94% save rate for all cats, supports cat confinement. They also have an idea to keep an indoor cat happy , “provide him with a playmate and companion—namely, another cat.” You got to love their marketing!