There are numerous cat fence options and outside cat enclosure options available to pet caregivers without using shock collars and invisible electrical containment fences. Cat Fence-In and Purr-fect Fence provide effective cat fence options. There are also DIY cat fence options using propylene deer fencing or chicken wire, not to mention the smaller outside cat enclosure and catio options that are growing in number each year.
In fact there are many reasons not to use shock techniques to contain your cats.
First, shock training is a form of punishment that creates fear and distrust because it inflicts pain. The e-collars are often uncomfortable as they must be fitted tightly for electrical prongs to make contact with the skin. When used improperly they cause painful burns. The collars can be a hazard for cats as they do not have release mechanisms in the case that the collar gets caught on something.
Second, the shock can sometimes be associated with the individual putting their collar on, instead of the electrical boundary. Some studies indicate that it induces more behavioural problems such as generalized fear or aggression as well as other responses indicating stress.
Third and very important, the invisible fence does not keep out animals that could be a threat to your pet, such as neighbourhood dogs, stray cats, and other wild animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes… It also means that your collared pet is restricted to the electrical boundaries and cannot escape via routes out of the electrical boundary, while the other animals can. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
Protecting cats from hazards involves keeping potential dangers out of their territory, not just keeping them within a boundary. There are numerous fence options made of various materials that can easily provide cats with a safe environment and keep threatening animals and humans out of their territory.
There are also contingency situations to consider in which the training does not work for some reason or the batteries run out, or the devices malfunction, etc. I remember seeing some heart wrenching videos where cats experienced the shock for the first time. It was obvious to me that they were traumatized in that moment. Perhaps the techniques for shocking have been refined to travel through rubber contacts instead of metal prongs on a collar, and to be a lesser voltage if easily dissuaded, but it is still what it is, an electrical shock. Cats are extremely sensitive creatures. I really can’t imagine delivering this form of negative reinforcement = punishment training to condition a cat to their new boundaries. It certainly does not nurture trust with their environment or their trainers.
Punishment based behaviour training has been decreasing as more positive reward training techniques have been emerging for the past 15 years in the area of pet training, especially dog training. There are many Animal Behaviourist groups and trainers who favour reward training techniques that use positive reinforcement. Electrical Fencing for domestic animals seems to be taking us in the wrong direction.
Some veterinarians and animal advocate organizations are standing up and questioning the ethical use of electrical pet containment, which was considered controversial due to insufficient research. Wales took the initiative to ban shock collars in 2010. More domestic animal advocates are stating that an electrical cat /dog fence is unnecessary when other options and better options are available to keep our pets safe. More studies are proving that e-collars or shock collars are overall more detrimental than helpful.
Electric wire has been used to reinforce fencing for cattle by farmers for many years, but I think invisible electrical fences have additional negative psychological affects. Have you ever seen a person try to walk into a glass door because they thought it was open? I’ve seen two people break the glass and have to recover from the physical and mostly emotional shock. It’s very unnerving, to say the least, because it defies the senses (even when the glass does not break); one thinks they are walking into space but they hit glass. Are not invisible electrical fences similar to this? Here is a situation where an unsuspecting young lady walks into an invisible electric fence with an activated dog collar. Electrical shocks inflict pain. Consider the fact that a human has 10 times more mass than an average cat and in that video the shock was intended for a dog about half her mass.
In conclusion, there are other simpler and safer cat fences and enclosures that will effectively contain your pets and also protect them from harm, which do not induce fear, distrust and pain the way that electric fences do. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that emerging cases of animal abuse using shock collars shows that many humans are not able to manage e-collars humanely.