We love a good adage about cats; especially the old classic that warns pet-owners about what happens to overly curious kitties. Felines tends to be mischievous explorers that want to discover the world around them. While this reflects the vibrancy of their complex little brains, it is also a habit that can get them into trouble if they are not properly supervised. As the majority of outdoor animals spend most of their time unattended, they are subjected to a number of dangers that pet-parents should be aware of before letting their pets stay outdoors
Shortened Lifespan: A recent study published by Ecography showed that house cats who were allowed to explore freely at night traveled an average of 20 acres from their houses. Crossing these kind of distances causes the cat to run the risk of getting hit by a car, getting trapped in small places (or under cars like the cat in this story), being caught in hunting traps, drowning in neighbor’s pools or nearby rivers, contracting diseases from other animals, getting their paws tangled or stuck, or accidently ingesting poisons.
Injury: When left outside, cats are on their own to ward off any predator that might cross their paths. Whether that is an owl, a coyote, mountain lion, a neighbor’s dog, or even a feral cat, numerous animals are a threat to a domestic cat’s safety. Cat fights can be dangerous for a feline as the injuries are often surprisingly severe, even resulting in death. Scratches and bites from other animals can also become infected, and difficult to treat.
Disease: Cats that are left outdoors eventually spend time with other neighborhood cats or strays, and can catch life-threatening diseases. Feline Leukemia is passed through bodily fluids (even through something as insignificant as a sneeze), and can be deadly. Though there are vaccinations available, these are only 75% effective at best. Other diseases transmitted through bodily fluids (like FIV, feline immunosuppressive virus, which ruins a cat’s natural immune system) and FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) do not have vaccines, and are almost always fatal.
Parasites: Worms, ticks, fleas all become possible threats for animals that are frequently left unattended outside. Cats that roam come across fecal matter that may have worms, or drink water that has an infestation can contract parasites. This can result in internal infestations such as heartworms, whipworms, or tapeworms which come from fleas. Felines are also more likely to get topical infestations from other animals such as ticks and fleas.
Being Picked Up: When a cat is wandering away from home, or in a dangerous heavy-traffic area, some people will pick the pet up and take him to an animal shelter. If your cat is dropped off at the SPCA, he will most likely be euthanized if no one comes to claim him. Unless a cat arrives with tags or a microchip, he is unlikely to be reunited with his owner, as less than 5% of them are ever reclaimed.
*NOTE: Another negative side note is that cats who spend most of their time outdoors become accustomed to other felines spraying their territory. An outside-inside cat might take this practice to your living room! Keeping a cat indoors is the best option for his safety and your sanity.