This post is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, a research-driven pharmaceutical company that stands for innovative healthcare products for people and animals for more than 130 years, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.

We're contemplating adopting another cat, since Ajax and Ulysses decided to carry on their residency at Oma and Opa's house when we moved to our own place. They're old kitties who are rather set in their ways, and it was just too much to uproot them when they stubbornly decided that Nate's family home was where they belonged. We still see them several times a week, but I miss having a playful feline jumping around my windowsill and fetching the occasional creepy-crawly who dares to run across my living room late at night!

Keeping indoor-outdoor cats safe when they're outside Even as a compulsive collector of creatures, I say we're “contemplating” instead of “we went ahead and got one” because I know that a cat is a pretty big commitment. Ulysses actually had fleas when he came into our home. Ajax had worms. Don't get me started on the number of times they've managed to nick themselves on some rogue shed nail or get attacked by a predator on the acreage out here. Our vet really lucked out the day she met us! The fact is, companion pets are rather different from our grazing animals. They've been bred with needs that are in direct conflict with nature.

In the countryside town where we live, owners generally let cats wander their farms as opposed to keeping them indoors. We all have to be mindful, however, because cats are threatened by coyotes, foxes, skunks, opossums, hawks and even swooping owls. Most worrisome of all, cats can get infected with rabies from a bite or scratch by an infected animal outdoors.1 That freaks me out most, I think, because it puts our entire family at risk. Fortunately, there are preventative measures that we can take to keep most of these risks at bay.

Here are some of the steps we've taken with our cats in the past, and plan to continue with any of our future cats!

Keeping indoor-outdoor cats safe when they're outsideVaccinate

We've partnered with PUREVAX® Feline Rabies vaccines to help educate pet owners about how to help protext their cats. PUREVAX Feline Rabies vaccines are the only rabies vaccines made specifically for cats, and they're pure, safe and proven to provide effective protection against this deadly viral disease. Rabies causes severe inflammation in the brain and spinal cord,2 and there’s no cure or treatment once an animal starts showing clinical signs of the disease. The vaccine works on kittens as young as 12 weeks of age, and it’s made without any adjuvants.

Offer a safe outdoor space

If your cats don't have easy in-and-out access to your home, consider providing a shed or cat house so they have a safe place to hide outdoors if another animal threatens them. This works particularly well against birds of prey, who typically won't wing their way under an overhang or otherwise-enclosed space.

Keeping indoor-outdoor cats safe when they're outside

Minimize appeal to predators

Keep food and water bowls inside and use animal-resistant trash cans. You should also trim bushes to minimize hiding spaces for would-be cat-snatching animals. You also won't find any birdfeeders in our neighborhood, either; those things are like a welcome mat for all the gnarly creatures who live in the area. If you want to give your cat a treat, do it inside!

Good fences make good neighbors

Many predators can jump up to six feet, so it's a good idea to have a perimeter fence at least that high. For added protection, coyote rollers or wire along the top and bottom can help keep coyotes from scaling the fence or digging underneath.

Keeping indoor-outdoor cats safe when they're outside

Light it up

Nothing makes predators scurry away from our backyard faster than the insanely bright set of motion-detection lights I put back there (thank goodness none of our neighbors are close enough to be blinded by them!).

Take care with your cat

Bring them indoors at night whenever possible, and don't put any loud bells on their collar that might draw attention from predators. It's also a good idea to keep their claws intact if they'll be going outside, so that they have a way of defending themselves. Remember, you are your cat's first line of defense against the wild, so you should always be mindful of prioritizing their safety. You can also help ward predators off by yelling, clapping or waving to indicate to them that they are not welcome to harass your family.

How to help protect your outdoor cats

What steps have you taken to keep your cats safe? I'd love to hear your tips!

As part of this collaboration, I received compensation for my time. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim. The opinions are all mine. 1 Birhane MG, Cleaton JM, Monroe BP, et al. Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2015. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2017;250(10):1117-1130. 2 Rabies. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/. Updated March 2017. Accessed May 11, 2017. ®PUREVAX is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2017 Merial, Inc. Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. [PV17_Social4-B] (7/17)