Belling the cats

I used to “bell the cats” on a regular basis.  Each morning when I opened the cat door, each kitty would get his or her little collar with name tag and bell and off they could go to play in the enclosure.  I felt at the time, and still do to some extent, that although all of my cats are microchipped, should one get out, or some disaster occur (i.e. a car stray through the fence – don’t laugh, it’s happened to two of my neighbors), my little one would have a better chance of finding her way back to me if she had her collar and tag on.  Back then I also brought all of the cats in before dark.  I have since gotten much less cautious.  Weighing the pros and cons, I now keep a bell only on Simba Kahn so I can track his movements because the collars were wreaking havoc with their neck fur.  I also allow them access to the enclosure 24/7 due to the increased number of my pride as I hope that it reduces the stress for them to have more territory to roam.  By-the-way some literature recommends that you keep your cats in a collar with name tag in addition to microchipping even when they are indoor only.  I don’t disagree.  I just don’t do it.  Sometimes we just takes our chances, as they say, and hope the meteor will not choose our house to land on.

All of the above because I just read an interesting study.  You may or may not be aware that the whole KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS thing is not universal around the world and in fact in some areas of the world even pedigreed cats are allowed to roam outside.  For areas such as these, there’s the controversy over cats killing the local wild life, so in New Zealand they conducted a study on “belling the cats!” I thought this was very interesting.

I subscribe to “Cat Health News from the Winn Foundation” where I pick up a lot of great tid bits of information such as the New Zealand study.  Be sure to check out this second link.  It’s a fabulous resource on feline health and care.


18 responses to “Belling the cats

  1. In my experience, a bell makes no difference. A skilled huntress can still take down a bird just by stealth and quickness; she just gets used to the impediment and takes care not to ring the bell when hunting.

    And Molly, I can see how a car might drive through your fence someday. You live next to a very busy street!

  2. I was told by some at, I think, the Humane Society, that actually having your cat’s name on the tag, is not a good idea – that if someone “finds” your cat, they are more likely to keep it if they know it’s name. Don’t know if that’s true, but I assume they have some kind of study to back that up. Lily kept her collar on till the day I glanced over and saw Tiger on top of the scratching post, lying on the shelf on top, with Lily dangling by a few threads of her collar, from his claw. Both were NOT happy! I so wanted to get a picture of that, but she appeared to be in distress, so I grabbed her quick. Bye-bye, collar!

    Wish I had an enclosure like yours. They love to go outside, but now only go out in my arms (only time they let me pick them up and carry them!). I used to let them walk around inside my tiny fenced yard while watching them closely, but one day Tiger zipped under the fence into my neighbor’s yard, and that was the end of that. He also figured out how to open the screen door on the slider, so I can’t even leave the patio door open. He is a really smart cat! I haven’t pursued the enclosure, mostly because I can’t afford to do anything right now, but not sure my HOA would allow it. They’ve been after me to join the board – maybe that could be my condition of joining!

    • That must have freaked you out to see Lily hanging by her collar! Phoebe & Zoey have never worn a collar…

      • Yes, it was pretty wild! As soon as the collar was unhooked from Tiger’s claw, Lily’s collar was OFF! (She came home from the humane society with it.) That’s not her only scary adventure – when she was still small, she managed to climb into the fridge without my seeing her. Fortunately, I could hear her calling and then Tiger walked right over to it so she wasn’t in there for more than a couple of minutes.

      • OMG! the fridge is a scary one…. no matter how careful you are, stuff still happens … I had a kitten slip off the dining table while his head was through the rungs of the chair … he slid down and would have strangled except I was sitting near by and heard him cry. The chairs now all have cloth caps on them when kittens are afoot.

      • Wow! Thank goodness she was only in the fridge for a short time! Zoey spent a night in the basement (not finished…full of boxes and other crap) once…she didn’t make any noise and Phoebe didn’t let me know. I had gone down there (3 floors down) before bed. She ALWAYS joins me in the bathroom in the morning, so when she wasn’t there I started searching. I found her curled up in a corner in the basement looking so pathetic…I felt SO bad! Since then, if I go down to the basement I make sure I can see both cats after I come back up!

  3. Thanks for the info, Molly! I subscribed to the “Cat Health News as that’s something I’m always interested in. I definitely plan to have Phoebe & Zoey microchipped at their upcoming physical. My parents get a lot of visitors and are also in & out a lot more than I am, so there will be more danger of them getting out. It’s unlikely, but I’d rather be safe! Luckily, they have no “bolting” issues as I trained them from 8 weeks old to stay away from the front door. They will literally sit in front of my open front door and watch me bring groceries in. I would love for them to be able to have a safe place to go outside, but at my condo it’s not possible and once I move to my parents’ I don’t have the means to create one for them. They don’t know any different, so being inside is not something they complain about. I’m going to get them the same cat tree as Austin’s and put it in front of a window, which I know they will love!

  4. Molly, you’re right – keeping cats indoors isn’t universal. Here in the UK cats are usually allowed to roam unless it isn’t practical, if the owners live in a flat (apartment) or on a very busy road for instance. This can hold true even for pedigrees. Our two Persian Colourpoints (Himalayans) are now 16 and have been allowed to roam freely – between the hours of 9.30am and dusk. Ok, we live in a small village, so it’s not quite the same as living in a busy town, but at least 3 other neighbouring pedigree cat owners do the same. And yes, we’re all probably waiting for the meteor to land…
    As for belling cats – the one-eyed polydactyl cat over the road has a very large bell, but during one week this summer managed to bring in 16 – yes, 16 – birds. I suppose an ornithologist would think that keeping that particular cat inside would be a really good idea.

  5. Thanks Molly, I’ve been pondering lately about keeping a cat indoors. As Anita says, most people do let their cats roam outside here in the UK. I’m in two minds what to do when I get another cat. I remember worrying so much if ever one our cats didn’t turn up for hours, (stupid I know ’cause that’s what cats do). One cat jumped in my car one night as I was getting out, I didn’t see him do it so he was shut in there all night with me tossing and turning and worrying where he was. I was so relieved to see his little face looking at me through the car window the next morning.
    I’ve thought about an outdoor enclosure but not sure it would work in my garden.
    As you say, what are the chances of the meteor hitting and at the back of my mind I can still hear my father saying ‘ Cats should be allowed their freedom, it’s in their nature’ but there are so many great cat toys available now, I assume these compensate. Oh, what to do!

  6. I am waiting for Molly to get round to the idea of ‘belling’ the more troublesom visitors to the website chat…

    I am sure that Bea and Maggie would put me down as the first to be done!

  7. Bobin!!!! Never 😀

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