Over at Facebook, I’ve been involved with two discussions, including my own I started over the debate about the whole issue of strictly indoor cats versus cat owners who allow their pet cats as both indoor and outdoor. I’m half expecting my friend’s list will drop over at Facebook as I’m pro indoor only when it comes to having pet cats.
To set the record straight, I’ve had cats since I was a mere five years old. The first cat, Babette, was a kitten my mother adopted and gave me as a Christmas present. I am now 57 years old (soon to be 58) and still have cats, Kissy, my 14-year-old, and Ouija, whom I adopted last year and is about two years old. In all the years I’ve had cats, they’ve been strictly indoors. This is mainly as a practicality as I live in the NYC area and in an apartment building, thus it would be very impractical for anyone owning a cat and living in such an environment to allow their pet cat(s) to be outdoors.
However, even for people who live in country areas, all kinds of dangers lurk for pet cats that are allowed to roam freely. Yes, it’s one thing if a person has a backyard with a very secure fenced in area, and if said cat(s) owner allow their cat(s) outdoors in said secure area supervise the entire time their cat(s) are in their backyard; in other words, watch them like a hawk. I know I would if I lived in such a setting. If one has young children, would parents allow their children to be alone completely without supervision? I don’t think so, so why do pet owners do so? I have heard of cat owners who, if they allow their pet cats to roam freely, makes sure that the cat is only allowed to “roam” early in the day and make sure the cat is back home by nighttime. However, that still doesn’t guarantee their safety as too many dangerous factors will still exist.
Also, for an additional sense of safety, there are cat enclosures one can install that will give a pet cat the sense of the outdoors, without really being outdoors per se. Just merely do a search about these enclosures, which can range from rather simplistic to the very complex and can be a total environment for one’s pet cat(s).
In the times we live in, one has to recognize and provide complete safety for one’s pet, there are just too many dangers that can face a pet cat that is allowed to roam freely and unsupervised. Now before I list those dangers, I want to make something clear. I do realize many people may not only have pet cats but may take care of feral cats. Feral cats are a breed all their own. They are wild cats, not domesticated, very wary of people, even to the very people that may regularly feed them. Chances are, this type of cat could never become an indoor cat. However, I’m not talking about feral cats, but unfortunately there are dangers to feral cats as well, and I’ll bring up a few points here in this article as well.
1). The danger of being hit by a car. Don’t ask how many times I’ve heard one of my online friends over at Facebook do a sob story about their pet cat going missing, only to later find them dead on a road that had been struck and hit by a car. I’ll be harsh here then when I say, while I feel sorry for the cat owner that their cat met with such an end, why didn’t they keep that cat indoors? Then, of course, there are the cases where a pet cat simply goes missing permanently, the owner never, ever learning the fate of what happened to their cat and they again do a boohoo sob story. I happen to know someone who lives in a country area and now has her fourth cat; each of her previous three cats who were allowed to roam went missing. She also mentioned that in her neighborhood, there are many people who aren’t cat lovers and heaven only knows what fate they met. But after three cats gone missing, she still insists on letting her new cat roam.
2). Diseases and parasites. If a person wants to keep their pet cat healthy and disease free, keep the cat indoors! Cats that are allowed to roam freely can often intermingle with other cats that may carry numerous diseases such as Feline Leukemia (FeLV), Rabies, Feline Panleukopenia, (FPV), Feline HIV (FIV). Once a cat is infected with anyone of these diseases, it can then infect other healthy cats. Why anyone would want to risk such a possibility is beyond me.
Then there are the multitude of parasites a cat can pick up, from fleas, ticks, and ringworm. The pet owner then pays a small fortune in vet bills to eradicate such parasites. Well, the high vet bills could have been avoided completely by…yes, keeping the cat(s) indoors.
If the probable danger of a pet cat allowed to roam freely and possibly meeting the fate of being killed by a car, gone missing, or picking up on diseases isn’t enough, there are other factors to consider.
3). Poisoning, either indirectly or directly. Indirectly: Many people living in country areas may treat their lawns with chemicals, chemicals, I might add, that are often highly toxic. Even something like Monsanto’s Roundup, which is a weed killer, can and will pose a danger to pets. (2) Other indirect means that cats can be indirectly poisoned are people who lay out poisons to kill any type of pests, such as mice and rats. Not only can cats be poisoned this indirect way but other animals who may prey on mice and/or rats, including birds of prey who ingest the poisoned mice/rat.
Directly: One sad fact is that not all people are cat lovers and will purposely try to poison them. Many years ago, I knew a woman who fed stray and feral cats. She had two cats of her own that were strictly indoors. She would feed these outdoor cats very early in the morning, and then again at night. You can only imagine her horror, when she went out early in the morning to add new fresh food, only to discover one of the feral cats dead. It had been deliberately poisoned . The place she fed the stray/feral cats was an enclosed area of her apartment building and only tenants could gain access to the area. She never found out who was poisoning the cats, but it was an obvious cat hater and fellow tenant to her building.
4). Cat haters, animal abusers and outright psychopaths. The world is by no means a kind place in general. Everyday we can hear of horrific abuse of any kind both toward humans and animals, but nowhere more than with innocent animals who have no voice; it’s one of the prime reasons I’m a dedicated animal rights activist and advocate. Within only this past week alone, I heard of two such cases of horrific animal torture, and yes, it had to do with cats.
In summary, unless you can 100 percent guarantee an outdoor pet cat its safety, have the means to get a cat enclosure, and/or supervise and watch you pet cat(s) in your backyard like a hawk. If you wish to have a pet cat that can live healthy and disease free and have a long, long life and not endure any of possible dangers a roaming pet cat may face, I have four words: Keep your cats indoors!
Life experiences; Animal Advocate/Activist