This article is republished from my column on Examiner.com, with minor alterations
Catios are a great way to allow your cat to experience some of the great outdoors, while still keeping him safe from predators, cars, poisons, and more. Another thing for which catios are great is keeping wildlife from becoming your cat’s prey; an issue that’s drawn increasing attention in recent years. If you want to let your cat outdoors, but worry about both your cat’s safety and the safety of his possible prey, catios are the way to go.
Why the Audubon Society supports catios
The Audubon Society of Portland, in cooperation with the Feral Cat Coalition, sponsors tours of specific catios in and around the Portland area, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about how to keep both cats and wildlife safe outdoors. The Audubon Society has discussed the studies that show how free-ranging cats can damage the environment, and it’s quite refreshing to see them working towards productive solutions, instead of caving to those who demonize cats and want to see them exterminated.
One of the catios on the tour belongs to Joei and Jim Lattz, who became nervous about letting their cats outside several years ago when one was hit by a car. Their backyard is also an Audubon Society gold-level certified habitat, and that, too, has made them more aware of the problems between cats and wildlife.
TNR, catios, and special collars can all address problems with free-ranging cats
There are many things that various groups are working on in order to address these problems. Catios are one way. Another way has to do with brightly colored, “scrunchie” type collars. Earlier this year, a study in Australia showed that these collars can scare away wildlife before cats are able to get near enough for the kill.
Feral cat colonies under the care of trap-neuter-return groups shrink slowly, without creating the vacuum effect that catch and kill does. If a colony is completely eliminated too quickly, while there’s still prey available, it just encourages growth of a new colony, and any efforts to sterilize the colony have to start over. Towns have been trying this for more than 30 years without success. If catch and kill was going to work, it would have worked by now.
The catio tours around Portland have featured 31 catios over the last three years. Part of their purpose is to give people inspiration for their own catios, which can be as simple or complex as people would like them to be. There are also plans on the Internet for catios, if you’d like to build your own.
The bottom line is that catios are a great way to protect your cats and protect wildlife, while still allowing your cats to enjoy the great outdoors. The Audubon Society and the Feral Cat Coalition should be praised for their efforts to raise awareness of this idea.