On the one hand keeping a cat indoors has the potential to limit natural behaviours such as stalking, pouncing, and scratching; this can lead to frustration and inappropriate naughtiness in the home. But on the other hand, keeping your cat indoors may just save their life.
So perhaps now is as good a time as any to remind ourselves why raising an indoor cat means your kitty is more likely to live a long and healthy life.
1. Deadly Diseases
Cats will be cats, which mean they fight over territory so as to see off intruders. Unfortunately, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is spread through catty activities such as fighting to defend their patch. The virus requires infected saliva to enter the body via a bite, so cats that are free to roam are more likely to pick up infection.
FIV compromises the cat’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to infection. In real terms this means the FIV positive cat may catch a cold which rapidly develops into life-threatening pneumonia. Since there is no cure for the virus, the best option is prevention. . . by keeping your cat indoors.
2. Road Kill
To put it bluntly, the biggest cause of death in young cats that are allowed outside is being struck by a motor vehicle. In the UK (where 90% of cats are allowed outdoors unsupervised), one study found that 25% of cats under the age of 12 months, die on the road.
Indeed a UK pet insurance company analysed their data and the biggest cause of claims, and concluded the biggest single thing you can do to extend the life of your cat is to keep them in at night. . . because this is when the majority of traffic accidents happen.
3. Lost and Alone
Not all cats have great homing instincts, and it’s all too easy for them to wander off and get lost. This is one scenario that really doesn’t bear dwelling on as there’s perhaps nothing worse than never knowing what became of your lost cat.
4. Senseless Cruelty
Ok, perhaps I was wrong. There is something worse than not knowing what happened to your lost cat, and that’s learning your cat has been the victim of torture or intentional cruelty. From cats used as target practice with a bow and arrow, to the cats swung round by the tail causing nerve damage to the bladder and bowel, there are some people out there who are lower than low and delight in making innocent animals suffer.
Numbering amongst that low life are pet thieves who cruise an area looking for friendly cats to steal. What then becomes of these animals doesn’t bear thinking about, but can involve being sold on to people running dog fights or illegal laboratories. Then there are the unscrupulous thieves who steal specific breeds to order.
6. Pet Poisoning
Not all poisoning is malicious, but whether accidental or deliberate it makes little difference to the sick cat battling for their life on a drip at the vet clinic.
People are lazy and careless, and from slug pellets and patio cleaners to spilt antifreeze, there are plenty of health hazards for an unsuspecting cat patrolling the streets. To make matters worse, substances such as antifreeze can be ultra-attractive to cats, and like bees to honey, they will drink from puddles in the gutter.
It is a remarkable cat indeed that spends time outdoors and at one time or another doesn’t develop a cat fight abscess. And this includes the peaceable cat, who gets bitten (but on the backside whilst running away) as they try to stay out of trouble.
Abscess are painful and unpleasant, and whilst some settle with a short course of antibiotics, others need draining and even reconstructive surgery. Either way it means a trip to the V-E-T which is one trip outdoors the cat would rather be spared.
Being outside places your cat at greater risk of picking up parasites such as fleas and ticks. In themselves fleas and ticks are pretty unpleasant, but when they carry hitch-hikers in the form of parasitic diseases such as hemobartonella or babesiosis, then this means double trouble.
From urban foxes to coyotes (or even people) there are predators out there only too happy to predate on pet cats.
Extremes of heat or freezing cold, are problems we’re well aware of and hopefully your outdoor cat has shelter. But less extreme weather such as high winds can cause its own problems, such as the cat that gets blown out of a tree. Then there’s the cat that gets soaked in a rainstorm, especially the senior cat, who is then vulnerable to illness or infection.
Be the best pet parent you can by ensuring your indoor cat doesn’t miss the great outdoors. You can do this by providing outlets for those natural behaviours, such as clawing, that might otherwise be out of place inside. This means looking at your home with a cat’s eye view and providing facilities such as high platforms to perch on, cat trees to climb, and plenty of scratching posts in prime locations.
By providing a rich and stimulating environment indoors, there’s no need for your cat to miss the not-so-great outdoors.
Do you keep your cat indoors with their safety in mind or allow them free access outdoors? Please share in the comments.