Good Reasons to Keep Your Cat Indoors

For many cat owners, the choice of whether to keep their cat indoors or to let it roam free at least part of the time is difficult. Some cat lovers believe keeping your cat cooped up indoors all of the time amounts to cruelty. Other cat lovers argue that the dangers of allowing domesticated cats to run in the streets far outweighs any potential benefits for the cat. From the title of this piece, you can probably guess which side of the issue I’m going to side with. But I think it’s important for people to realize how dangerous things can be for cats on the streets.

The Disease Factor

Cats that spend even part of the time outside are at a significantly higher risk of catching one of the common feline diseases than those who live indoors. And don’t assume your cat is not at risk because he or she has been vaccinated. According to the Community Animal Welfare Society, most vaccines only provide up to 85% protection against these diseases so your cat is still a risk of becoming gravely ill.

Feline Leukemia is one of the most common diseases in cats and is transmitted through cat saliva, which means a stray cat that licks your roaming pet or a water source used by multiple cats can be a source of the disease. A second serious disease is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This disease is transmitted through cat blood so if your pet becomes involved in a fight with another cat while roaming outdoors he could contract the disease. Unfortunately, FIV is fatal and no cure is available at this time.

The Human Element

While cats do run a serious risk of catching disease from other felines outdoors, that’s not the only risk they face. Not everyone in your community is going to appreciate the activity of these free-roaming cats. A neighbor fed up with the cat's visits to their yard, might deliberately leave out poisoned
cat food or other dangerous things for cats. In other cases, toxic chemicals, such as those in antifreeze, are located in places where cats like to end up and can result in their death.

Humans can also be cruel. Around Halloween every year, hundreds of black cats are killed around the country in pranks. Cats that roam the streets are a very likely target for this type of behavior, especially since most owners let them out for the night when pranksters are most often on the prowl. They can also be caught and sold to research facilities, or taken to a shelter, where they will be euthanized in as little as 2 days if you don't know he is lost.

Other Risks

Besides disease and human cruelty, roaming cats have other reasons to be afraid. They are an easy victim for dogs and other predators, and traffic. Who knows how many pets can be found flattened on the pavement every night. Cats can also be killed by cars in other ways since they like to sleep under them.

Cats that run in the neighborhood are also much more likely to contribute to the out-of-control cat population. Unless you have spayed or neutered your free roaming feline, you are undoubtedly adding to the problem. Too many cats are already euthanized daily because they do not have a proper home.

In some cases, very cruel owners will have their cats de-clawed but still allow them to roam the streets at night. This leaves the cat defenseless in the face of an attack. Not only can the cat not fight back against predators or other cats, but he or she cannot even scale a tree or a fence for protection from the attackers or from other threats.

The bottom line is that letting your cat outside provides no real benefits – only very real risks – to your cat’s health and safety.

Don’t do it.

If you feel your cat is missing out, provide him with a good
cat condo, if you lack the space you can always buy cheap Ikea shelves, glue on pieces of carpet that you can get as scrap at carpet places, and put them on the wall so your cat can climb up on the wall. They even look cool!

Give him or her a nice window seat to look out.

Teach them to walk on a leash. Yes they can be trained. They will initially feel confined by the harness, and their first attempts at walking on a leash might look uncomfortable and a waste of time, but with love and patience on your part, most cats will enjoy leash walking.

Build them an outdoor condo where they can come out and enjoy the sunshine if you have the space. You don't have to spend a fortune.

Get them a mesh front carrier. Most are for dogs, but they can be used for cats as well. You can take them with you and go for walks, or get them a kitty stroller. You can get them at good prices online.

The point is, you can keep them safe and satisfied, and exercised, and they will never miss the great outdoors.

By: Rebeca Rambal | 30/05/2009 | Pets

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