A reader is concerned that a roaming fox nearby could cause harm to both her outdoor cats. Celia Haddon answers...
Q) I saw a fox trotting down a nearby street. I have two cats that have free access to outside by a cat flap. I am now worried that my cats, Charlie and Chocolate, may be at risk. Do foxes attack cats?
Your Cat reader
A) CELIA SAYS: Yes, foxes do occasionally attack cats, especially if they are particularly hungry. Fox lovers claim that cats can see off foxes, but this only applies to some healthy, bigger cats that stand their ground. Kittens, elderly cats, cats that are small in size, or cats limping home from an accident are the most likely victims of foxes.
That said, most animal bites on a cat come from fights between two cats. The only way to keep your cats completely safe from both foxes and road traffic injuries is to keep them as indoor cats.
However, because both Charlie and Chocolate have been used to roaming, they will hate being confined and it may take several weeks before they adjust. You will have to be strong minded if you make this choice.
You can reduce the risk though by closing their cat flap at night. Foxes hunt more often at twilight and night. Call your cats in at a set time each evening and offer treats and an evening meal. Make sure there is nothing to attract foxes to your garden — no hedgehog food or bread for birds. Security lights that are triggered by movement will also be a deterrent. It will also help if you train both cats, using treats, to come to you when you call them using a specific command word. Start the training inside the house, then do it in the garden.
Finally, during the day, call them in from the garden, reward them and then let them back out again. This ensures that they do not associate your call with always being immediately shut in.