Every day, newspapers across the country run classified ads by humans hoping to be reunited with lost cats. And, “lost cat” posters are found taped to streetlamps in most neighborhoods. Sadly, many will never return home.
A large number of cats are allowed unsupervised access to the outdoors on a part or full-time basis. However, not all people are aware of the many dangers lurking outside that can harm — or even kill — their beloved companions.
Common Outdoor Dangers Include:
Cats who are allowed outdoors may fight with other cats and wind up injured, including abscesses that can cause serious infection if not treated. Some may catch communicable diseases. Cats can be chased by dogs up trees or on rooftops and then become too scared to come home.
Unfortunately, humans do exist who will hurt and torture cats or even attempt to poison them. Or sometimes, poison is left for other purposes but a cat may get into it anyway. And some people steal cats in order to get a “free” pet or to sell the cat to research labs that still experiment on animals. Talking to a friend who has seen their cat taken by an owl or heard their cat killed during the night by a coyote should provide convincing evidence that the outdoors is not safe.
Yet, some people will poo-poo the dangers and speak of the outdoor cat they had who lived to be twenty. Of course that happens, but the vast majority of outdoor cats die an earlier death than their indoor counterparts. The Tufts School of Medicine found that indoor-only cats live an average life of 14 years while indoor-outdoor cats live only 4 years.
So Why Let Cats Out?
One reason people let cats out is to avoid having a litter box in the house. While a litter box may never be a thing of beauty, a well maintained litter box does not have to be obvious or obnoxious in the house. In fact, a litter box should be looked at as a safety feature for cats in that your cat will not need to go outside to do her business and in that the cat’s people can monitor her health by observing the output.
Another common reason given is that cats need to be outside to live happy lives. Again, this is untrue. While cats may enjoy roaming the yard and hunting, it is not the only way to live. Some of the best advice ever given regarding cats is that they are like toddlers – there are a lot of things cats would love to do but it is our responsibility as human adults who understand the dangers faced by cats to keep them safe and say no, just as we would do for a three-year old child who wants to cross the street by himself or jump in the pool without knowing how to swim.
Stimulation for the Indoor Cat
The cat who lives an indoor life can be quite happy if his household makes an effort to provide variety and stimulation. Toys, companions, windowsill, and even catios can make a huge difference for a cat. Cat condos and other means of adding “vertical” space can make the house bigger for the cats and allow access to another dimension. Many kitties like to play and be petted.
You will have more years of enjoyment with your cat if she is not allowed unsupervised outdoor access and many fewer worries.