How to secure against cats

Felis catus, the domestic cat is one of the most effective predators on the planet earth. Single adult males have been more effective than trapping and poisons at controlling pest rodents on small farms and have done more to help humanity achieve agrarian civilization than any other "domesticated" animal. It is estimated that up to 10% of all human foods are destroyed by rats not including what is just contaminated with disease. Little fluffy is built to kill and this why he is with us, not because he sits on mum's lap and purrs.

We love our chameleons, but our cat provides us an indispensable service. Anyone who has ever woken to a rat on their bed knows what I mean...

But we absolutely need to find a way to keep this predator away from our cute little ambush predators. Having kept cats most of my life, and also having had small animals most of my life I have never lost a small animal to a cat (came close a few times) and thought I would share some of what works for me.

First and most important is the enclosure.

It absolutely needs to be escape proof, not very difficult with a chameleon. It also needs to be situated in a place where a cat can't knock it over. I use piano wire to secure enclosures to the wall. For commercial cages you can unscrew the structural screws enough to wrap some wire and tighten back down. Black wire looks decent here.

The latches for the cage should also be strong enough that a cat can't pop them open, if they watch you open it enough they will eventually figure it out. Cats are very smart they just don't listen. While on the topic of latches if it isn't actually latched it will do no good at all. This can be an easy thing to overlook, and it only takes once. I put colored masking tape on the latch so it is readily apparent if it is not latched.

Two of my cats can open doors in the house, so if you have a "safe" chameleon room make sure the handles are the knob type with no place for a clever claw to get purchase and turn.

The mesh for a cage where cats can potentially access should be aluminum screening less than 1/4" to keep errant paws out and to keep tails in. The above steps should keep a catastrophe from occurring.

Even if you're keeping Fluffy out and Rango in there is still the problem of cat induced stress. I had a cat who thought the top of the chameleon cage was an awesome place to sleep. It was warm and smelled like plants, heck it WAS an awesome place to sleep.

For this is is important to keep cats away from the enclosures altogether. The previous steps are fine for cats that aren't curious about the chameleon and stay away from the enclosure (the previous steps are still important because you never know when this might change).

In my experience chemical repellents are effective in as much as the cats aren't interested. Also I wouldn't trust most of them around a chameleon. The one's most likely to be effective probably cause brain damage in children ha! Citrus peels seem to work on some cats if they are just nosing around, but won't work on any cat who has made a decision to do something or go somewhere. If your cat hates ctrus peels just put some around the cham cage and swap them out every day or so. Oranges also make good gutloads and you should eat more fruit anyway.

Physical repellents work the best of which there three major types I highly recommend.

Scat Mat is a small pressure sensitive mat that gives a little electric zap when touched. Great for keeping cats (or other animals) away from the chameleon area. There are some disadvantages including the fact cats can jump it and go right to the top of the cage. Cats aren't stupid as many assume and some are quite capable of this kind of problem solving. But as with chemical repellents if they were only moderately interested it will work.

Ssscat and other similar products are motion activated compressed air cans with high pitched squeal. When a cat trips the motion sensor it gives them a squeal and air blast. Really fun to watch (I love cats but it is really funny) as they look confused and run in terror then sit to lick themselves like nothing happened. These are very effective but will need to be placed to not spray the cham and if you're creative you can position them to not go off when you approach to feed and mist. Most cats will soon learn to avoid the area as they seem to have a harder time figuring out the motion sensor than the shock mat.

For the outdoor enclosure and neighborhood cats motion activated sprinkler / water sprayers are available that are VERY effective. There are few things a cat hates more than getting squirted by a water jet. This will also keep away dogs, kids and other animals that might be a danger / stress to chams in their outdoor enclosures.

Some cats aren't very bright and can be quickly trained by their owners with a squirt bottle. Cat goes near the cage or anywhere it shouldn't be a quick squirt. Ideally you should be sneaky so the cat doesn't see you squirt it. Many cats will just take this to mean stay away when you're there and not learn to stay away period if they associate you with the water. I NEVER see a cat on the counter but know they are there by the occasional hair or cat print.

Other low tech physical repellents are reported successful by some people. Cats hate sticky and double sided tape is said to be effective. Cat's for some reason sometimes hate aluminium foil so slightly crumpled foil is sometimes an effective barrier. Some cats hate chicken wire, a little laid out especially outside around a cham enclosure sometimes keeps them from catting around.

I am sure there are many inhumane solutions, I have been given most of them and have no interest in hearing them. I feel it is wrong and strongly object. I would be glad to hear about any other humane solutions anyone has.

As a final note when a cat does to something to hurt another small animal or acts like a nuisance I hope that the response will not be inhumane. Cats have done much for humanity and while they can be a nuisance they do not deserve to be treated cruelly. There are several clear studies that point to the possibility cats being able to experience spiritual like experiences (from brain scans) and it is clear they feel pain much like a human does.

With a little caution and a few preventative steps there is no reason we can't all live together.

Comments

great blog!
I have 3 cats, and a baby cham and I plan on keeping everyone alive and healthy for a long time.
With a bit of effort, I see no real issues.
"you should eat more fruit anyway." love it :p
 
StreetMoggy;bt1747 said:
great blog!
I have 3 cats, and a baby cham and I plan on keeping everyone alive and healthy for a long time.
With a bit of effort, I see no real issues.
"you should eat more fruit anyway." love it :p

Thank you!

It really is a little work and you can't be careless and expect everything to be fine, but I would hope everyone who decides to take charge of another life understands some effort it involved!
 
Thank you for writing this! It's so sad when I hear that another cat killed a Cham. Hopefully a lot of people will read this! :)
 
Great post
About cats being efficient killers that is true but not in my case, because my cat is 16 years old and weighs 30 lbs, lol
But I'm sure it is true with other cats
 
Wonderful blog! Most kitties are definitely dangerous for our other critters and there have been so many sad stories.

I am very lucky that my kitty not only isn't a threat to my chams, she is a threat to anyone who tries to get too close to HER chams. :) I am allowed to take care of them but if visitors get too close, she goes on the defensive! And if hissing and threatening don't work, she has been know to attack!

Yesterday, this was very helpful. Prometheus went on a walk-about. When I got home from work, Kitty came running out to see me but kept going back toward the bedroom (where the chams are kept). I finally got the drift and went with her. I couldn't find Prometheus for about 15 minutes and was really starting to worry. I sat down on the bed and looked at Kitty Kora and she was looking at the laundry hamper. Sure enough, the little guy had fallen in and couldn't get out! He was mad and a little chilly so I put him back on his "cage" and gave him a good warm misting. Kitty went in too and laid down for a long nap.

So, I am very thankful that my chams have a guardian Kitty!

holytoledo-albums-misc-pics-picture15963-kitty-wishes-she-chameleon.jpg

This is the pic of Kitty Kora keeping watch in the old window arrangement when Twister was still with us.
 
Excellent blog! Thank you so much for your insight and GREAT ideas! Unfortunately, Molly is QUITE clever and she knows that I am the source of the water when she gets too close. I have my work cut out for me, hopefully some of your tips will work :)
 

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