I agree with most of Dr. Melissa Simpson's objections concerning making a cat an outdoor cat when faced with behavior problems (Letters: Questioning the great outdoors, January 2012), but I also very much appreciate Dr. Gary Norsworthy's response to her concerning these objections. I just wanted to mention another option.
My best friend used an invisible fence company to train her cat to remain in the yard when she was faced with euthanizing, re-homing, or putting the cat outdoors. I was a little skeptical this cat would learn to stay in the yard, but it has worked, and the cat is happy. The company worked with my friend several times until the cat seemed to be properly trained. The cat is happy enough that the behavior problem has been eliminated, and it spends only about half its time outside.
This option does not eliminate the risk to all wildlife, nor does it keep the cat safe from other animals entering the yard. But if you have an actual fence, adding an invisible fence to keep cats from climbing does keep them safe from dogs, cars, and possibly, most cats. Two strays have entered my friend's yard, but, fortunately, the cats all seemed to get along.
In a perfect world, we could solve all these problems well enough that the cat would be safe and happy in the home, but since we don't live in a perfect world, other less desirable options need to be considered. I hope this one might help someone out there.
Heather Smithson, DVM