When I moved 2 years ago I wanted to make sure that Eclipse was as safe as possible in the new house. As described in this post about cat walking, I decided to try him with a jacket and lead. This was very successful, and for quite a long time we did take him out in the garden with the jacket and lead, and also for a walk around the close at the front of the house.
After a while it became apparent that he could be trusted to not try and escape the garden so I let him roam around the garden without a jacket and lead. But after a while he did start jumping over the fence. So the jacket went back on again, and to start with didn’t want to jump with the jacket on, but he soon realised he could jump the fence with the jacket on as well. I did put his lead back on in the garden, but he once jumped the fence with the lead on as well. That was extremely scary, fortunately the jacket wasn’t on very tight and he slid out of the jacket, otherwise he would have been hanging from the top of the fence on the lead. So I don’t take him in the garden on the long lead anymore. Fortunately he is well behaved if he does jump over the fence, and comes back when he has had a look around the garden. I have made various attempts to block the fence so he can’t jump, but this isn’t entirely successful. Generally he can let me know he wants to go round the front, and if we do that he doesn’t bother trying to get over the fence. Sometimes he goes for it without warning, and most of the time I can outrun him, but occasionally he gets the better of me! He can be taken out on the short lead though, and that isn’t a problem.
After a while of taking him for walks around the front of the house I started to let him off the lead to wander around with supervision. This is mostly successful, but there are a couple of potential risks. Mostly he just walks around the close sticking to the front gardens of the houses, which is fine. It gives him an opportunity to explore the sights and smells, and a bit of exercise. There are two routes he can take to get to the road, which is obviously a bad thing. One way is to walk directly to the road, but he has to walk past our house to do that, and the other is to slip through the neighbours fence across the close, and use their back garden to get out to the road. Through the neighbour’s garden is the biggest problem because he can choose a couple of different routes, and it’s a lot easier to dodge me if he wants to be awkward. I’ve found that having the jacket on him has a few advantages for exploring out the front. The first is that it is much harder for him to slip through the neighbours gate with it on, because it makes him wider, and recently he has only gotten through when a visitor has left the gate open. The second advantage is that if he does get near the road and decide to make a run for it, he’s a lot easier to grab with the jacket on. He is still less confident with it on, so he doesn’t try jumping over other fences, but he can still run back to the house quickly if he is spooked by something.
Because this time last year he was on the lead, there was no concern about whether he was visible outside, but with the winter evenings drawing in quite early, it was apparent in his pink jacket that he was invisible outside of the areas lit by the street lamps, and also through the garden and garage! We’ve done well with the one jacket, but I expected that I’d want to buy a second jacket at some point for practical reasons. With the dark evenings starting to be a problem, it was obvious that it would be a good idea to get a jacket that would help improve his visibility. In our previous house I used a flashing LED on his collar to help his visibility in the winter. Because he is black, he is invisible to cars, so this was to keep him safe during the winter mornings when he liked to go out as part of his routine. This worked ok for spotting him, which was helpful for me, as I always worried about him when he was out. I thought of getting another, but it isn’t the ideal solution, because you can’t see the light unless you have line of sight to his collar. Checking out the Maria of Mynwood’s new website I saw that there was a jacket made of high visibility material. As well as the fluorescent material, there were options to add a reflective strip (or two) and also a removable band of LEDs to the jacket. This was an ideal solution, and I’m very pleased with the result shown in the pictures below. In the twilight and during the day the jacket is very bright and visible. The reflective strip is very bright with light shining on it, and so ideal for any cars pulling into the close. Finally the LEDs are very bright lights, which again adds to the visibility, especially when no light is on. This means I can see exactly where he is, even if I don’t have line of sight to the lights it generates enough light to shine of the floor or other objects he is near, so I can even see if he is hiding out underneath one of the cars on the drive ways!
Jack from above, showing the LED band and the reflective strip.
From the side, you can get a sense of how bright it is during the day.
And again from the side.
And at night. You can see the brightness of the reflective strip. The LED band is also reflective. The LEDs are on, you can see the red light at the top, but they are much more obvious in conditions with no light. The LEDs can be flashing or static. I usually use the static lights, but just because I find it easier to see him when he moves around.