Maybe you caught this local Global News story about Epsy: two years ago, a curious little Calgarian cat escaped her fenced-in backyard and hadn’t been seen since … until recently. Early this September, she was spotted and reunited with her relieved owner, Wendy Syvret. Though it’s hard to believe, microchip identification positively confirmed that after 715 days on the prowl, Epsy is now back at home where she belongs.
This story is particularly heartwarming because Epsy is a special needs cat who isn’t used to being outside of her backyard. She frequently enjoyed afternoons on the deck or exploring within her fenced parameters, but depth perception vision issues have always kept her close to home. A gap in the fence – set for repairs upon her arrival back home – led to an unexpected escape.
It’s tricky business, deciding whether or not to let your cat outside. The topic is actually quite controversial. Despite their domesticity, our pets are still genetically similar to their ancestors and retain many of their wild instincts. This means indoor cats might be bored or unhappy without access to the outdoors. Being kept inside can also increase the chance of them developing health issues like diabetes and obesity.
That said, most wildlife experts don’t like the idea of letting house cats go outside freely. Birds and small mammals are often targeted, leading to higher wildlife mortality. Cats can also be exposed to pathogens or parasites and are susceptible to being injured by traffic.
Epsy’s backyard lair may have provided the best of both worlds, despite her accidental escape. Offering your cat an enriched environment can keep them engaged and happy while also ensuring their safety. (Just make sure that they aren’t able to slip out of their enclosed space.)
Try attaching your pet to a harness or leash. Not all cats like to be walked like a dog, but many enjoy the opportunity. Others may prefer to be attached to a long line in a yard that offers them both independence and safety. If you can’t fence your yard or use a line, a ’catio’ can provide cats with a small outdoor patio specifically designed for their enjoyment.
Giving your cat opportunities to climb inside is another way to keep them stimulated. Cats tend to enjoy vertical spaces, so consider adding a cat tree or a designated perch with a window view. They’ll love having a safe escape off the ground where they can take in the scenery outside.
If you allow your pet outside, always make sure they’re microchipped and collared. They should also be up to date on all flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventives.
Luckily, Epsy was microchipped and could be positively identified when she was found. She may have spent a few of her nine lives in her two years on the loose, but she’ll now be able to live out the rest of them happily in her newly repaired fenced yard.