I keep going back and forth on whether or not to let my cats outside. Cole doesn’t have much interest, but Chrestomanci certainly does. I know he’d be happiest as an indoor-outdoor cat, but I don’t know that I’d be happiest with him as one, and I don’t know that it’s worth the stress. One day in the summer when we let him out with us, he wandered off. He came back a few hours later, just as my husband said he would, but by then it was dark and I was very upset until he showed up again.
Another big reason why I’m not certain about letting my cats outside is that there are already a number of other cats that call our yard theirs. I know that two of them are definitely our next-door neighbor’s cats. They always run away when I try to go make friends with them, but if no one is around, I’ve seen them saunter into our yard and stretch out for a nap in a sunny patch of grass. The previous owners of our house never had cats, so it makes sense that the neighbor’s cats claimed our yard. Yesterday morning my husband said he even saw one of them on the deck right by the door, crying back and forth through the window with Cole.
Sometimes I also see some unidentified cats running through our yard, usually in the far back. Last spring a few of them even went back there to mate; I chased them away, because I didn’t want the mother cat thinking our yard was a safe place for kittens. If she had her litter in our yard, I might have wanted to keep them all.
I know how territorial cats can be, and although Chresti has never struck me as the aggressive type, I don’t claim to fully understand feline dynamics, either. I just don’t want any fights to break out. So what do you do if there are neighbor pets in your yard, and you don’t want them there? Vet Street has some suggestions.
If you’re feeding or in any other way encouraging the cat to be in your yard, stop. I want to be friendly with my neighbor’s cats, but if I didn’t want them in my yard, I should stop attempting that (although so far they’ve never taken to any of my overtures). You can look into cat-proof fencing, though that’s rather expensive unless you’re skilled at DIY.
You could also set up motion-activated sprinkles in your yard, though that would only work if you don’t want any critters in your yard. If you want your own cats (or in my case, my dog) to make use of your yard, the sprinklers would be unpopular.
Beyond that, there’s not a lot to do. Unfortunately, as I’ve learned myself, cats go where they will, and there’s not a lot to be done to stop them. However, if you want to let your cat outside and there are other cats in the neighborhood, I wouldn’t worry too much: animals tend to work things out among themselves.
*(The above image by Doug Bowman is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)