10 Reasons to Have an Indoor-Only Cat
The Dangers of Letting a Cat Outside
Did you know that the lifespan of an outdoor cat is shortened by three to five years compared to an indoor cat? It's true that many cats that live outdoors can live a lot longer than that, but every time a cat is put outside, his or her life is put at risk. Allowing a cat to go outside doesn't just put the animal at risk either, an unsupervised cat may also destroy gardens and ecosystems. A lot of people assume that it's natural for cats to be put outside, but in many areas, environmentalists are trying to make laws that forbid people from letting their cats outside. See 10 reasons why you should keep your cat indoors below.
1) They Can Get Hit by a Car
You might think that this only applies to busy roads, but you don’t need to live near a highway for your cat to run the risk of getting hit by a car. Anytime your cat crosses the street it runs the risk of being killed. Some people argue that their cat knows about street safety and is aware of the cars around them: but it only takes one mistake for a cat to get run over. Don’t assume that the car will always see your cat or that your pet is smart enough to avoid traffic.
Just yesterday evening, I was walking down the street with my dog. On my street is a house that always lets their cat outside. He’s a very sweet, good natured cat and when his owners go for walks, he always follows them on the side of the road. Yesterday, he was outside on his own, across the street at another house, when I happened to be walking by. It was at this moment that he decided that he wanted to cross the street and head home. Just as he was about to cross, a car was coming. The car slammed on its brakes and barely missed the cat. I have seen cats get run over by cars before, both in busy streets and in rural areas, and I am very happy that I didn’t see it happen to a cat that I know very well.
2) Other Animals Can Hurt Your Cat
Cats are in danger of being hurt or killed by other animals. Whenever you let your cat go outside, they are in danger because of other animals in the area. Depending on where you live, there are a variety of wild animals that will hurt or kill a cat; coyotes, wolves, foxes, hawks, owls, raccoons, and skunks, just to name a few. Your pet runs the risk of being attacked by dogs and even other cats.
3) Diseases and Health Issues
A cat can get sick from going outside. There are a lot of diseases that cats can get by going outside and coming in contact with other felines. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is the feline equivalent of HIV in humans, it spreads through bites and scratches by infected cats. A cat with FIV has a compromised immune system and is more susceptible to other illness.
Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV) is another serious illness that infected cats can transmit to healthy cats. It can be transmitted through saliva and close contact with sick cats. Cats that frequently come into contact with other cats run a high risk of becoming infected. FeLV is very serious due to the fact that it can be fatal.
By going outside, cats also run the risk of getting rabies, as well as parasites (such as fleas, ticks, lungworm, and tapeworm) and fungus (such has ringworm). Not all vaccinations protect felines from disease and health issues and they still run the risk of infection.
4) Cats Make a Mess
There are lots of risk factors for a cat when it goes outside, but that's not the only reason why cats shouldn't be allowed to roam the neighborhood. If you have a cat, you know how awful it can be to clean a stinky litter box. Now imagine that you are a neighbor that found cat poop in your tomato garden or in your flower bed. Every time you let your cat outside, there's a good chance that they are using the outdoors as their bathroom. It could be in someone’s garden, a child’s sandbox or even in carport or a shed. If your cat is going to the bathroom on your neighbors property they have probably noticed and aren’t too happy with it, which brings me to my next point.
5) Some People Hate Cats
Protect your feline from awful people. There are many people out in the world that don't like cats, and some of these people will try to hurt animals whenever given the chance. It’s heartbreaking to lose a pet, but it’s a thousand times worse if you lost them because someone intentionally hurt your pet. I work at an animal shelter, and have seen some cats that have been poisoned, tortured or killed by vengeful neighbors. When you put your cat outside you leave it at the mercy of these sick individuals.
6) Cats Can Get Trapped or Lost
Sometimes a feline doesn’t come back home because they have lost their way or they got trapped somewhere. Have you heard the song “the cat came back?” Well not every cat has amazing directional skills, and therefore they aren’t guaranteed to return if they wander too far from home. It’s also very common for cats to get trapped somewhere: up a tree, in someone’s garage, even in the engine of a car! Once they get into a tight space, it’s hard for them to get out. If no one discovers them, they can starve to death or die from exposure to the elements.
I once had a scrawny cat come to my house. I could tell that she was hungry so I fed her and then called the owners (her collar had her phone number on it). She had been missing for a week and the owners had been worried sick! The most surprising thing for me and the owners, was that they lived only a few blocks away but the cat never found it’s way back home.
7) Cat Overpopulation: Cats Reproduce Very Quickly
Don't let them out if they haven't been fixed.
This only applies to cats that aren't fixed, so if your pet isn't spayed or neutered, don't let them go outside. Female cats can become pregnant when they are just kitten, as early as when they are four months old! A few months later, they can give birth to a litter of kittens. Even while they are nursing their babies, a female can become pregnant again. Cats reproduce at a phenomenal rate. Due to the lack in regulations, cat overpopulation is a major concern. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that over two million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized every year because of pet overpopulation (Source). Spaying and neutering a cat is the best way to control pet overpopulation, and if your pet isn't fixed it's best to keep them inside.
Tip: Use a Bell to Warn Birds and Locate Your Cat
If you want to help protect birds from being killed by cats, make sure your cat is wearing a bell on his or her collar. It will warn the birds of impending danger, and it's also a great way to keep track of where your cat is when they do outside.
8) Cats are Decimating Bird Populations
They kill birds, lizards, and other small animals.
It’s no secret that cats are small predators and that they enjoy hunting and killing. Even a well fed house cat will prey on birds and other animals for sport. In Canada, it’s estimated that cats are the number one cause of bird deaths and that approximately one to four billion birds are killed every year in the United States (Source). It’s no wonder that environmentalists are concerned about the impact that domestic cats have on ecosystems. The issue of cats killing small animals indiscriminately is a cause for great concern.
Use a Collar to Warn Song Birds
9) They Could Be Poisoned
An outdoor cat is exposed to a variety of substances, and some of them are deadly. Antifreeze is a real danger: cats are attracted to the taste and smell of it. Ingesting antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death, even in a healthy cat.
There are other harmful substances that a cat can come into contact with, such as pesticides and chemicals. There are even plants that are poisonous to cats and there is no way to control their interactions with poisons and toxins.
10) It Reduces Their Lifespan
Every time a cat goes outside, they run the risk of being harmed or killed. Statistically, an outdoor cat's lifespan is shortened by three to five years. Contrast that with an indoor cat that lives significantly longer: 10 to 15 years. While not every cat that goes outside will be killed, the chance of being harmed is very high. Keeping them safe in your home adds years to their lives, and gives them more time to spend with you.
Tips for Outdoor Cats
There are exceptions to the above dangers and cats can go outside in the right types of conditions. If you are around and can make sure your cat is safe, perfect! If you aren't able to supervise your cat, it's probably not a good idea to let them go outside.
If your cat is going outside:
- Always supervise your cat to make sure they are safe.
- Make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
- Make sure they are spayed or neutered.
- Attach a bell to their collar to alert birds and other animals that a predator is nearby.
- Keep them in a fenced in yard, in an enclosure or an a leash.
How to Make a Cat Enclosure
Does Your Cat Go Outside?
Do you let your cat outside?
Get Your Cat a Harness and Leash
A cat harness is the perfect solution if you want your cat to go outside with you, but you are worried about their safety. A well made harness ensures that they won't be able to wiggle out of it and it protects them from the dangers of being outside.
House Cat: Taking Care of Your Indoor Cat
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.