By: Robin Desmet – February, 2018
When Paul adopted Goldy he had already spent half of his life as a cat that was allowed outdoors. Although Goldy loves to snuggle with Paul on the couch, he also enjoys his time roaming in the yard. He is an avid hunter and he loves to spend time hiding in the grass like a Leopard on the Serengeti. Goldy goes outside at will during the day and spends his nights indoors. He has lived this indoor/outdoor lifestyle for years and he clearly enjoys it.
Janine owns 3 cats. All of her cats were adopted and all 3 cats also enjoy an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Her cats are young and full of energy and spend all day playing, hunting, and roaming at free will in Janine’s generously sized yard. Janine lets her cats out in the morning and they return at suppertime each day. That is until last September. One evening last fall only 2 of Janine’s cats came home for dinner. The third cat is still missing to this day.
Everywhere I go I see “missing cat” posters. In addition, I see tons of Facebook posts about cats that are missing and I also hear of many missing cats via word of mouth. Most of these cats never return. In fact, only about 15% of lost cats ever make it home. Clearly, cats like Goldy enjoy being outside. But if you let your cats outside, you are undoubtedly putting your cat’s life at risk.
Indoor cats enjoy much longer lives than outdoor cats. The average indoor cat lives to be about 15-17 years old. The average outdoor cat lives only 3-5 years. Cats that are allowed inside and out are usually somewhere in between depending on a number of different factors.
Cats that are allowed outdoors are at much greater risk of injury and death than indoor cats. Motor vehicles pose a huge risk for cats that are outside. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, 5.4 million cats are struck by cars every year. Predators such as coyotes and foxes, and other cats and dogs all pose threats to cats that roam outdoors. Cats that are free to roam are at risk of poisoning from pesticides and antifreeze.
Poisoning can occur either accidentally or intentionally. Outdoor cats are also subject to many forms of cruelty and abuse. Other people may not share your fondness for cats and may intentionally hurt your pet. Cats have been shot with arrows and BB guns, hung from trees, kicked, burned, poisoned, and used as bait for dog fighting.
Outdoor cats are also subject to serious infectious diseases such as feline leukemia, and to a variety of parasites including fleas, ticks, and worms. When they come in at night, they bring these parasites in with them. Besides getting hurt, cats may be stolen or picked up by well-meaning individuals and brought to an animal shelter.
By far the easiest way to protect your cat from potential hazards or from becoming lost or stolen is to keep your cat indoors. If you do have an indoor/outdoor cat, then take precautions like microchipping your cat and using a breakaway collar with an ID tag. Limit your cat’s outdoor excursions to the daytime and treat regularly for fleas and ticks. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered.
Keeping your cat indoors can be the best decision you can make for your cat. Indoor cats can be both safe and happy and can live very long lives. Besides, who wants to find a dead mouse on the doorstep?