Friday, October 5, 2012

Keeping Cats Indoors

When you adopt a cat from the Humane Society, we strongly suggest in most cases that you keep your new feline friend indoors. Sometimes, potential adopters are puzzled by that requirement – after all, aren’t cats just fine, or even happier, outdoors?

It’s a cold, cruel world out there for cats, and indoor cats have been found to live as much as twice as long as their outdoor counterparts. Many dangers lurk, and although a cat may seem street-smart, that’s no guarantee against some of the common risks, such as being hit by a car or becoming prey to a coyote, hawk, or aggressive dog. Even the sweetest pet can get into a fight with another cat roaming the streets, risking injury or infection.  Regular immunizations will protect against rabies, but there is no vaccine that can protect 100% against FIV (feline immune virus) or FeLv (feline leukemia), two diseases commonly spread among outside cats, especially ferals.

Pet owners can experience tragedy when the cat is poisoned, either intentionally by a neighbor who hates cats and sees them as nuisances, or unintentionally by lawn chemicals or substances they may find when visiting a garage. Cats may be caught in animal traps, or abused by cruel and disturbed individuals. 

Visiting cats may also become problems in the neighborhood.  Mistaking a child’s sandbox for litter and leaving odors behind in favorite spots will probably not be appreciated. And the birds, chipmunks and squirrels that your cat may proudly present at your doorstep mean the unnecessary death of wildlife in your area. Cats are a major predator of small birds, mammals, and reptiles, and can even accelerate extinction in at-risk species.

Last, but not least, cats may bring along wildlife of another kind – fleas!  Outdoor cats can become infested, putting your carpet, upholstered furniture and bedding at risk.  Not a pleasant experience for you or your cat.

Indoor cats can be perfectly happy perched by a window or door, watching the world and all its dangers go by. Read our post for tips on how to keep them from getting bored.

A good pet owner needs to be educated about the risks of allowing a cat to access the outdoors. These risks can in some cases be minimized, but they can never be eliminated and should not be ignored. There is no doubt that the safest place for your kitty is indoors.

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