Many cat owners feel their felines need to spend time outdoors to get fresh air and exercise. However, experts agree that outdoor cats are more subject to dangerous situations than indoor cats. Even cats that only go outside once and a while can encounter hazards. Consider these cautions before deciding whether or not to let your cat have some outdoor time.
Contact With Feral Cats
Feral cats can carry a variety of diseases that threaten the health of domestic cats. Feline leukemia, distemper and upper respiratory infections are just a few of the illnesses your cat could contract from feral cats. Ferals can also be unfriendly or territorial, leading to fights that could leave your cat with a painful injury. These health concerns require vet visits that can be expensive for you and traumatic for your cat.
Cars are the most obvious danger to outdoor cats and pose the greatest risk of fatal injuries. However, cars aren’t the only hazard. Dogs that run loose in the neighborhood and wild animals such as coyotes can pose a threat to cats. If chased by one of these animals, your cat may go up a tree for safety and be too frightened to come back down. Unfortunately, he or she can’t rely on humans to be helpful in these situations. It’s a sad fact that some people take pleasure in being cruel to animals. Humans may also unwittingly harm outdoor cats by leaving garbage and chemicals where they can easily be ingested and cause illness or poisoning.
Fleas and ticks are much easier for cats to pick up when they spend a lot of time outside. These pests are often carriers of infections such as Lyme disease which negatively affect your cat’s quality of life. Ear mites and various kinds of worms are also common parasites that outdoor cats can pick up. Even though it’s unlikely that these will be life-threatening, your cat will still suffer unpleasant symptoms and can bring infections home to other family pets.
Outdoor cats are roaming cats, and when a cat roams, he or she is liable to get lost. Make sure your cat has a collar with an ID tag and wears it at all times. Since collars can sometimes get lost, consider also getting your cat microchipped for identification. In case of an emergency, keep current photos of your cat on hand. This will allow you to make “Lost Cat” fliers quickly should your cat go missing.
If you’re concerned about these potential problems but still want your cat to be able to enjoy the outdoors, another option is to build an enclosure near the house. This gives your cat a place to play and explore without the dangers associated with roaming free.