Showing posts with label confinement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label confinement. Show all posts

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Should you let your Bengal cat outside? Answer: it depends!

I have just visited my doctor's surgery. I walked down to the clinic (about 25 minutes) and on the way back I saw a beautiful Bengal cat on the sidewalk and then crossing the road before entering the grounds of his home through the grille of a fence where he marked his territory against an object in the front garden. It got me thinking. Why was this Bengal cat outside wandering freely? Should you let your Bengal cat outside? And the answer is, it depends.

Here is the cat I describe. It is a poor quality picture I am afraid:

Bengal cat wandering outside in Kingston Upon Thames
Bengal cat wandering outside in Kingston Upon Thames. Image: MikeB

I do not believe that you can let your Bengal cat go outside in the way that I saw today, to roam freely at will wherever they want to. Bengals are too glamorous and too enticing to steal. The cat I saw was beautiful and stood out.

Supervision

However, I do believe that Bengal cats should be allowed outside under supervision. This means that if, in the instance I refer to above, you live in a city, it must mean on a lead and harness. You can teach your Bengal cat to accept a lead and harness. This is much easier if you do it when they are young and ideally a kitten.

Most domestic cats need training to accept a harness and lead. Once you do they will generally walk with you although not like a dog. You are going to need a lot of patience and going nowhere for a while they investigate their immediate surroundings. Taking a smart phone with you to surf the internet will help with your patience 😃✔️. But keep a look out for dangers such as dogs.

Also, you can allow a Bengal cat outside if you have a backyard without trees and around which you can place a cat confinement fence. This may be very effective. I think, however, that it will be less effective than a harness and lead.

The reason is that a Bengal cat might be able to escape a cat confinement fence even if it is customised and cleverly constructed. Bengal cats are very athletic, inquisitive and determined. Of all the domestic cats the Bengal is the most likely to escape a cat confinement fence around a backyard.

A third option is a catio which allows a Bengal cat to smell the air and perhaps feel some grass under their feet. Catios are a good compromise between keeping a domestic cat indoors full-time and allowing them to have some sense of nature and stimulation from nature.

Stimulation

The need to stimulate a domestic cat is particularly important with Bengals because they are wildcat hybrids. Wildcat hybrids are generally slightly more intelligent than your typical domestic cat because they inherit their intelligence from their wild cat counterpart which for the Bengal cat is the Asiatic leopard cat.

And because they are confined to the indoors full-time they are likely to get bored and they might become a bit difficult. Plenty of stimulation which means playing with them and customising the interior of your home with, for example, a catio, and climbers is the way forward.

Harness and lead

Personally, I would go for adopting a Bengal kitten and immediately train them to accept a harness and lead from the get go and take them out. The harness should be a thick and secure one. You do not want your Bengal cat wriggling free. Some of the earlier harnesses and the cheaper ones are not, in my opinion, secure enough to stop an anxious Bengal cat wriggling out and running away.

Sometimes domestic cats become anxious and excitable when in a harness on a lead. This can make them do stupid things and in the wrong environment those stupid actions can lead to harm.

Good training when young and sensible supervision when on a lead is the answer.

Dr Bruce Fogle

Dr. Bruce Fogle, the UK's number one veterinarian/author, boldly and confidently states that training your cat is logical. Domestic cats train themselves very often and they sometimes train their owner as well. It is a mutual form of training.

In one of his books, Complete Cat Care he says that when cat owners come into his veterinary clinic it is pretty normal for them to feel guilty about not letting their cats go outdoors. And he recommends what I recommend by saying that:

"If you want to give your cat the option of going outdoors, and it too dangerous for it to do so on its own, training it to walk on a lead is an option for any relaxed cat that's not fearful of the outdoors."

Bengal cats are normally pretty confident and therefore should not be fearful of the outdoors. You can go online, I would suggest Amazon, to find a thoroughly sound harness and lead. Some harnesses are much easier to get into than others. I would pick one of those because it can be difficult to get a cat into a harness! But there again if they are trained from kittenhood it shouldn't be a problem.

Bruce has some lead-training tips and here they are:

  • Training a cat to walk on a lead takes patience. It is designed for confident cats who are not frightened of the outdoors. Note: confidence can be built up and taking your cat for a walk on lead will get them used to the outside safely.
  • If you decide to train your cat to walk on a lead you should continue to do so because once they experience the outside on a lead they will possibly find the indoors boring and it would be unfair on your cat.
  • You should never apply tension to the lead as it is not designed to direct a cat but to simply keep them safe.
  • You should avoid parks with dogs or noisy frightening places. A quiet, possibly fenced area, is the best.
  • During a training session to walk on a lead, if your cat pulls on it wanting to go somewhere, go with the flow and don't pull back as your instincts might direct you. I think that this is where it is different between a dog and a cat. You can't really train a cat like a dog. Cats are trainable but there needs to be a little more flexibility in how you walk a cat on a lead compared to a dog.
  • While walking outside with your cat on a lead, if you don't want to go where your cat wants to go, instead of pulling back, just pick your cat up, move elsewhere and start lead walking again.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7"

NEWS AND COMMENT: The city administrators i.e. councillors of the City of Greater Bendigo, Australia have voted that domestic cats "must be contained to the property 24/7". One councillor, Julie Sloan, said that it is important to make a distinction between "restrict cats to indoors 24/7" and "contain to the property 24/7". That's a fine distinction which I had to think about for a while to work out the difference. The difference must be this: they have ordered that domestic cats should be kept within the bounds of the property which means inside the home and/or the front and back yards. 

Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7"
Greater Bendigo, Australia order cats to be "contained to the property 24/7". Image: MikeB

The cats don't have to be confined to the indoors i.e. inside the home. They can wander into the back garden front garden but clearly if they do those areas must be fenced in a way which prevents domestic cats escaping to the outside. That is my interpretation.

It's a progression for this city from an earlier curfew which required cats to be kept inside the owner's property between sunset and sunrise. So the screws are gradually being turned tighter on cat owners in terms of restrictions. This is one of the few total curfews that I know about in the world of domestic cat ownership. It's about as restrictive as you can get. Although, there have been lots of discussions about confining cats to the boundaries of the owner's property 24/7 in many jurisdictions on the planet, primarily in America and Australia.

These countries lead the world in terms of legislation to control cat ownership. What is the purpose of the curfew? The usual reasons: to prevent predation on wildlife and, in their words, "less fighting and transfer of diseases and breeding between cats and would reduce nuisance issues between neighbours".

The councillors surveyed the residents of the area. The feedback was 80% in favour of confining domestic cats to their homes. Under the legislation, cat owners have to pay up to AU$120 to reclaim their cat if it is held between five and eight days by the local authority.

The residents will be given time to get themselves organised to comply with the new restrictions. It'll take a bit of work. The cat confinement fence manufacturers will do a roaring trade 😅.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

The only place on the planet were domestic cats have to stay in the home?

You may have noticed, there is one place (?) on this planet where domestic cats will have to stay in the home under the law which commences in October 1, 2021. That place is Knox in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I know of no other place in the world where the local administrators have decided to bite the bullet and do something very big which is a 24/7 curfew on domestic cats under the law which forces cat owners to keep their cats either in their home or the backyard (but see below).

Knox council wants their citizens to build these. This catio in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Evelyn Lau - The National.

There is a website for Knox which succinctly tells us, away from the glare of social media, about the cat curfew. It states that cat owners will be required to keep their cats on their premises at all times from 1 October 2021. The curfew will be in place to protect local wildlife and cats and prevent a nuisance to neighbours. The curfew means that cats must be confined to the house, shed, garage, yard, or enclosure or something similar. Can your cat still go outside? Cats can go outside but it has to be on the property so it is not going outside in the conventional sense, meaning into public places.

The city administrators expect cat owners to build enclosures and cat proof fencing around their properties. It is something I've been promoting for a long time actually, which is cat enclosures. The catio is a small version of a cat enclosure. It's a great compromise between allowing your cat the opportunity to express natural behaviours while protecting the cat and wildlife. I believe that it is a compromise which will gradually be expanded into many metropolitan areas in various countries.

SOME PAGES ON CATIO CAT ENCLOSURES

It just took a very courageous decision by these administrators to do it now. Of course, there's been a big backlash by resident cat owners within the jurisdiction. Social media describes it as "outrage". However, the council run a survey of 720 residents, 50% of which are cat owners. A large 86% supported some kind of curfew with apparently the majority referring a 24-hour curfew. This indicates that there is consent. I have interviewed an Australian lady and she is for destroying feral cats - the same objective.

Set against this apparent consent, there is an online petition requesting that the council reviews their decision. Detractors say that the science does not support a curfew and that the cats will be stressed by being confined.

I've just discovered that the Yarra Ranges Council introduced a 24/7 cat curfew earlier. So. the Knox Council curfew is the second in Australia and I would argue that makes them the second in the world because no other country has done this. It's been discussed in America but no action has been taken. Americans love their freedoms under the constitution. They are very vocal about it understandably.

Australia's citizens are perhaps more compliant. Also, Australia's administrators are more concerned about wildlife predation by domestic and feral cats than in America. The balance has shifted between allowing cats the freedom to roam, which they've enjoyed for centuries, towards protection of wildlife. That is the main reason why this curfew is in place. They say that it also protects the cats but 90% of this is to do with stopping domestic cat preying on wildlife.

There is enormous pressure on wildlife in Australia mainly because of human behaviour which destroys habitat and causes climate change. People can't change their behaviour so they change the behaviour of cats instead. It's much easier and it looks like politicians are doing something positive. A much greater positive impact on the protection of wildlife would take place if people changed their ways.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Residents of Knox City, Melbourne ordered to keep cats inside 24/7

KNOX CITY, MELBOURNE - NEWS AND COMMENT: This might be a world first but if not, it is one of the very few city councils to order that their citizens keep their domestic cat companions inside the home 24/7. And it seems that the order to do this will go on indefinitely unless somebody changes the ordinance or local law. The mayor of the city council disagrees with it as you can see in the Facebook post below.

Knox City
Knox City. Pic in public domain.

The reason is to protect wildlife and that is always the reason in Australia for confining cats. The authorities across the continent, to varying degrees, have become somewhat obsessed with protecting native species and I can understand that because humankind is destroying native species with global warming and other human activities. They have to do something about it and as they can't change themselves, they force change upon the cat.

Note: the embedded FB post below may stop working one day. If so, I am sorry.

Dear Residents, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write to me and express your views in relation to the new...

Posted by Mayor Lisa Cooper - Knox City Council on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

I have read that the owl kills more wildlife than the cat! I'm not sure that that is true but it's a thought. The cat is cast as the culprit in the decimation of native wild species as the Australian authorities see it. But the feral cat does more damage than the domestic cat and you can't confine feral cats but you can shoot them, poison them and kill them in any way you want, which is exactly what happens in Australia according to the news media.

The 24/7 cat confinement in Knox City which is a suburb of Melbourne begins on October 1, 2021. It will no doubt result in some cat owners building enclosures in their backyards for their cats as a substitute which I think is a good idea. It is perhaps the beginning of the end of allowing cats to roam freely. There will probably come a time, in Australia initially, but in other countries eventually when the concept of 24/7 cat confinement becomes a norm in society.

The council rules state that cats can still go outside as long as they remain on the property of their owner. From October 1 there will be a transition period during which time owners will receive a warning if their cat is found in someone else's property. After the transition period cat owners will be fined AU$91 if their cat is found away from the property. Repeated breaches of the rule will result in a fine of more than AU$500.

The Mayor of Knox City would have preferred a compromise solution namely a 7 PM to 7 AM overnight cat curfew but it did not get the council vote. The mayor is disappointed and it is her who said that on her understanding owls are the biggest predators of wildlife and yet domestic cats are continually blamed.

Her argument is that as cats do most of their hunting at night a night-time curfew would do the job to protect animals. Although many non-cat owning residents of the suburb are happy with the 24/7 confinement order.

Saturday 19 June 2021

Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats

NEWS ANALYSIS-NORTHERN RIVERS, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: I am unable to read this news item because I have to subscribe to the newspaper and I don't want to. But I can work out what it is about by reading an extract which is available to me on Microsoft Bing. I also know that Australia, in general, leads the way in attempts to regulate cat ownership with the objective of minimising domestic cat predation on native species. The Australian authorities are incredibly sensitive about the conservation of native species and they are very worried about feral and stray cats killing their small marsupials and mammals.

Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats
 Northern Rivers citizens are ambivalent about laws confining and supervising cats. Photo: Daily Telegraph (Australia).

One strategy is to confine all domestic cats to the home and enclosures attached to the home and if they go outside, it would have to be on a leash. In short, to prevent domestic cats going out into nature unsupervised and killing these endangered species. 

And the news tells me that the local government of Northern Rivers is considering a law which makes it mandatory to keep cats do these things. The problem is that the residents are ambivalent about it. No doubt there are some who are for it but a substantial percentage (and I don't have the numbers) are against it. 

There is a mixed reaction to the proposal to enact this legislation and under these circumstances I would expect it to fail as a proposal. Laws don't work well if the citizens to whom it applies disagree with it. There'll be enforcement difficulties.

Other potential methods of controlling cat ownership and encouraging cat owners to be more responsible vis-à-vis wildlife is to introduce obligatory licensing like dogs or obligatory micro-chipping. These sorts of ideas have been mooted before in Australia and in other countries. In general, the pressure to take action is gradually mounting as the population of domestic cats is growing in line with the population of humans.

As humans put more pressure on nature, more pressure is put on the authorities to do something about protecting the animals that live in nature. It's a straightforward equation: more people, more cats, more predation on wildlife and more angst among the politicians and administrators who feel they have a duty to conserve and protect precious native species in Australia. 

And you can't control human procreation. Look at China. Their one child policy has left them with a shrinking workforce. There has to be economic growth. This by the way is a failed idea in my view but that's another story.

Ironically and sadly more native species are lost through Australia's huge wildfires which occurred last year which have been put down to global warming which in turn can be put down to human activity. If it's not global warming it's increased commercial activity as businesses expand resulting in the destruction of nature through deforestation and therefore the loss of habitat for these precious species.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, it boils down to human activity as the cause of the consistent decrease in population sizes of these wild animals.

Sunday 30 May 2021

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) residents will have to confine their cats to their homes

The ACT government has plans to confine domestic cat to their homes from July 1, 2022 regardless of the suburban where they live. It's called the ACT Cat Plan 2021-2031. It's a policy which has been developed in consultation with others including environmental groups and cat owners which is designed to "help cats live longer and healthier lives while better protecting native wildlife."

ACT Legislative Assembly
ACT Legislative Assembly. Photo in public domain.


There are already cat containment regulations with respect to 'containment suburbs' in Canberra. Outside of "declared suburbs, cat containment will only apply to new cats, because we understand that existing cats and their owners may not be prepared or used to containment", said ACT Minister for Transport and Silly Services Chris Steel.

The new rules will also allow owners in cat containment suburbs to take their cat for a walk on a lead. This is currently prohibited. At the moment there are 17 cat containment suburbs in the ACT.

The maximum penalty for breaching the new local laws will be AU$1600. Steel said that the ACT is a leader in introducing cat containment. This is certainly correct. I do not know of any other country where these concepts are in place and being expanded. It is certainly part of Australia's desire to protect native species. It comes with a package of procedures including the destruction of feral cats designed to protect, primarily, small Australian native ground dwelling mammals but birds and reptiles too.

There are other plans to encourage responsible cat ownership. They say that there are seven other strategies to be rolled out over the next 10 years, one of which is a compulsory requirement for new cat owners to register their cats in the way that dog owners do currently. And from July 1, 2022 new cat owners will have to pay a fee when they register their cat for the first time. Registration will need to be updated annually. Existing cat owners will also have to register but there will be no fee.

The authorities say that they estimate free roaming cats kill 61,000 native birds, 2000 native mammals and 30,000 native reptiles together with 6000 native frogs annually, on my understanding.

They believe that domestic cats confined to the home can still live happy and contented lives. This is true but there are more demands upon cat owners to ensure that their cats are stimulated for obvious reasons. Confined domestic cats live in an artificial world and there has to be some substitutes to nature within that world to which domestic cats are attuned. They need the sights, sounds stimulation of nature.

I do not believe that the average cat owner will be able to satisfactorily substitute what their cats will be missing once they are confined to the home.

The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomed the plan but said that they could go further and also that they could introduce it sooner. They say that it is wrong to allow one more year of newly-acquired cat be free to roam and hunt.

Australian citizens can have their say online. If you are interested you can read about the government's vision and the ACT Plan 2021-31 by clicking on this link.

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