House cats to join the Big Wide World….eek!

Midas and Lulu are house cats, apart from a very brief period when they frequently escaped out of the kitchen window.  I’ve had them for 4 years now and most of that time I have lived in inner London, which is just not safe for cats as it is all roads and no gardens.  They are likely to have been stolen too as they are pedigree cats and theft is rife for expensive animals – they are quite clearly bred from a Siamese bloodline (they are Tonkinese).  For a short while I lived in Surrey and had a garden so gave them a chance outside, but whilst Lulu was fine to go off, explore and return home, Midas would go as far as he could and then sit under a bush and cry until you came to fetch him.  More than once I climbed through brambles and was covered in mud.  I kept them in after that.

I now live in Melville, which by all accounts is quite a nice place for a cat.  The rest of the neighbourhood cats certainly seem to think so.  We have an amazing garden and it seems wrong somehow to keep the cats in.  I took them out into the garden a few days ago to see if they would like it and they didn’t seem that interested.  Since I bought them back in they sit forlornly at the window or patio doors staring out at the freedom that they have been denied.  I feel terrible.

Lulu gazing out onto the deck longingly!

I read a great post about a cat owners perspective of indoor/outdoor cats.  Some valid points are made, and if you read 2Summers response she has a very similar perspective as I do.  I mostly kept them in because I lived in a concrete jungle, but that’s no longer the case.  There is the argument that for their own safety I shouldn’t let them out, and whilst that was certainly true for us for a while, our circumstances have changed and it feels like the right time to take the plunge.   The cats have not ever really been too bothered about going out either, but they seem ready now too.  I’ve been reading lots of forums about letting your cats out, and there are so many scary stories about the cats being run over, or never coming back that my nerves are shredded!  This was exactly the same with moving to Joburg though so maybe the benefits outweigh the risks? (Actually, if I’m honest, I’m terrified of letting the cats out, whereas I was only mildly nervous about moving to Joburg!!)

So I’ve decided to let them out, with the intention of them staying in overnight.  How I am going to police this is anyone’s guess.  I’m so nervous it is unreal.  They have never really been out before so how will they handle it?  Lulu’s a tough cookie and I’m not worried as much about her, but Midas is all looks so I’m worried how he will cope outside of our garden.  I’m quite worried about the chemicals that some people use in their garden to control pests/weeds – Midas eats plants!  I’m also worried about the many electric fence’s around.  Everyone that I have spoken to has said that somehow the cats know not to go near them, or if they do they soon learn their lesson.  I’m still worried that I am going to find a crispy cat on the floor though!

So the first stop is going to be the pet shop for a collar and id tag.  I’m having a really hard time finding any cat stuff in pet shops in Joburg – there are so many dog products it’s unbelievable but cats are not as popular here as they are in the UK.  I miss Pets At Home so much it hurts!   If anyone knows of any really well stocked pet shops let me know!  My best find so far is in the mall at Cresta, but their cat selection is also very small.

They are both neutered, micro-chipped and have had all of their vaccinations so nothing to worry about there.  Now to find out how to train a cat to come home, thanks to Midas’s inability to be cat-like and do it naturally (seriously, he doesn’t even land on his feet every time!).  Our landlord had a great idea to create a document with their picture and our contact details.  We then take copies to the local vets and all of the surrounding neighbours so that they all know who to call if there are any problems.  I’m definitely going to do this.

Watch this space to see if it all works out.  I’m definitely way more worked up about this than they are.

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13 thoughts on “House cats to join the Big Wide World….eek!

  1. Hi Martina! Thanks for the mention of our (my and 2Summers) posts. I don’t know how to allay your fears – I still worry about Lucy (our cat) when she’s outdoors. She was still a kitten when I first started letting her out, and it was fairly nerve-wracking at first. Although most of the time when she out for an extended period, I’d find her asleep in one of the flower beds.

    We keep Lucy inside at night. The way we taught her to come in at a certain time, is to make late afternoon/early evening treat or feeding time. Now it’s become a habit. Once she comes in, we shut all the windows and doors. She got used to it quite quickly. I have also always taught my cats to come when I whistle for them. So if I start to panic, I can at least get them to come back for “roll call”.

    It’s great that your cats have been micro-chipped. And also a good idea to have all their details on a flyer which you can distribute if there is a problem. The fact that you have two cats is also a bonus. We’ve found that since we got our dog (who has become Lucy’s buddy), Lucy has become much more of a homebody.

    Anyway, good luck! I’ll be checking back to see how it’s going.

    • Hi Lisa, Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I came across your post via 2Summers at just the perfect time! Yes, I think it is going to be a big fright for me when they start wandering. I do feed them at around 6pm so hopefully they will come home for that feed! Midas comes when I call him, but Lulu ignores me so I am going to have to find a way to train her. This is certainly going to be an interesting experience!

  2. Good luck! I’ll keep an eye out for Midas in Lulu, in the (very unlikely) event that they decide to wander this far. I’m sure they’ll probably just check out the garden and come back in. Not like our little problem child down here!

    • Hey, there is a really nice pet shop in Greenside, in the little shopping mall where Woolworths is. It’s expensive but the people there are really nice and they have nice stuff. There is also a nice little place on Beyers Naude Dr. in Northcliff, next to Impala Fruiterers and Fish Citi.

      • Somehow this comment slipped through the net and I missed it! I have visited that pet shop in Northcliff as I am quite the regular at Fish Citi and the Impala Fruiterers! I will definitely check out the one in Greenside though. I have found that there are a couple of big veterinary surgeries that are well stocked – one in Craighall and one in Greenside

  3. Have you checked Catbox pet hyper http://www.pethypers.co.za/? I find their prices very reasonable and they have everything. I can relate to your worries. We got our kitty here and at first I didn’t let her outside at all, then only briefly, then only during the day. But lately with the warm weather she’s taken to leaving right at dusk and going out so far she doesn’t hear us when we call her, and then my kids get very worried when she doesn’t come home to spend the night. She almost always does, but we’ve already had calls from security twice when they picked her up far from home and thought she was lost. By the way, the thunderstorm yesterday and today messed her up. She was never using her litter box inside anymore but rather the flower bed outside, so I took the litter box away. But with all this rain I think she didn’t want to use the flower bed for fear of getting dirty feet, so tonight she put a nasty present into my son’s bed, where I just caught her as she was scratching at the blanket to cover it up. I was SO mad at her and threw her outside, where she is now spending the night on the patio longingly peering into the windows…

    • I went to the Catbox in Linden and found it to not have much at all. Maybe it was bad luck and it was just low stock or something. I have found the most stuff at the pet shop in Rosebank Mall or at the vet, but it is astronomically expensive! Getting used to the prices here is something we are working on! We also feed them wet and dry food and it is the wet food I have struggled to find. We use Hills Science Plan so may have to think about changing to a cheaper brand! I’m not surprosed your kitty was freaked out by the thunderstorms – I was too! My poor cats spent most of the time under the bed. I wish I could have fit there too! I’ve not experienced anything like it before, but pretty sure I’m going to learn to live with it

  4. oh yes, I forgot, that was your very first thunderstorm here! They are spectacular, aren’t they? Also, make sure you unplug your TV and modem and even phones – it’s easy to get everything fried!

  5. Don’t get a collar!!! I have had so many collar related incidents in the surgery and the quick break collars don’t always break! Microchip if it’s used in the vets over there? So glad they are going out. Understand peoples fears but I’d rather a cat be free for a time than in captivity for 17 years. People. Stop being selfish! No more anthropomorphism! Release your pussy!!!!

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