Why Keep Your Cat Indoors
The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is just two to five years, while an indoor cat may survive for 17 or more years. Free-roaming cats are in constant danger. Below are excellent reasons to keep your cat safely inside.
Millions of cats are run over by cars each year. Seeking warmth, outdoor cats crawl into car engines and are killed or maimed when the car is restarted. Motorists risk accidents in attempting to avoid hitting free-roaming cats.
Each year, animal shelters and veterinarians treat cats who have been shot, stabbed, or set on fire. Unsupervised cats may also be captured and sold to research laboratories or used as bait to train fighting dogs.
Cats allowed outdoors risk exposure to fatal diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia, distemper, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Vaccines are not 100 percent effective. Cats can transmit diseases to humans such as rabies, toxoplasmosis, and cat scratch fever. In the U.S., cats are the top carrier of rabies in domestic animals.
POISONS AND TRAPS
Exposure to pesticides, rodenticides and antifreeze poisons kills thousands of outdoor cats each year. Cats are maimed and killed in traps set for fur bearing animals.
Torn ears, scratched eyes, abscesses, internal injuries, diseases, and sometimes death result from encounters with dogs, other cats, and wild animals like raccoons, coyotes and foxes.
Unaltered free-roaming cats are the single most important cause of cat overpopulation. As a result, millions of cats for whom there are no homes must be euthanized each year.
Cats allowed outdoors are more likely to contract debilitating parasites such as worms, ticks, mites, and fleas. These parasites can be transmitted to you and your family. They can make your cat sick and cost a lot of money to treat.
Scientists estimate that outdoor cats, even well-fed ones, kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and three times as many small mammals. The suffering of both cats and birds is all the more tragic because it is so unnecessary. Most birds killed by cats are members of relatively common species, like the Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco; others are rare and endangered. Birds that nest or feed on the ground are especially vulnerable.
Cats are domestic animals and do not need to be outside to be content. Indoor cats can get plenty of pleasure and stimulation if they are regularly played with and receive lots of affection. If you still want your cat to experience the outdoors, but without the risks, you can train your cat to go outside on a harness and leash or build a cat enclosure. Scientific studies have shown that cats with bells on their collars still kill wildlife because they can learn to silently stalk their prey. In addition, birds or small mammals do not necessarily associate the sound of a bell with danger, and bells on collars offer no protection to helpless young animals.
Even older cats who don't hunt should be brought indoors. Elderly cats who roam outdoors are even more susceptible to feline diseases and to injuries from other cats, wildlife, or dogs. Even if your cat doesn't hunt, move her in for her own safety. She'll live longer.
Worried about your cats spraying inside? Make sure your cats are spayed or neutered before moving them indoors, and train them to use a litter box. This can be done by first using soil in the litter box and gradually replacing it with cat litter. Keep the litter box clean by scooping it daily and changing the litter regularly. Even so, a small percentage of cats will continue to spray when moved inside. Consult your veterinarian or animal behaviorist for advice on how to diminish this behavior. A long-range water pistol or shaking a can filled halfway with pennies are harmless ways to curb a cat from undesirable behaviors, including spraying indoors.
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