Prevent a “Cat”astrophe: Don’t Let Your Kitty Roam

by: Michael Finn

There are approximately 84 million domestic cats throughout the United States. Of this number, between 40 -70% are allowed to roam freely outdoors. Although many owners do this to benefit their pet’s urge to explore, exercise, and hunt, when pets are unsupervised in this fashion, they’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of dangers. Cats also pose threats to wildlife, such as birds and small mammals.  This article discusses some of these dangers, as well as some helpful solutions.

Automotives

According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, 5.4 million cats are hit by motor vehicles each year in the United States. This danger is among the most critical, as cat and carmotorists seldom watch for animals crossing the road. If your pet is struck and injured by a car, he/she may require thousands of dollars in medical treatment. Even worse, they may need to be euthanized. Obviously, this can be devastating not only for the animal, but to your family as well.

Rivals & Wildlife

When allowed to roam free, not only could your pet be violently attacked by a rival, but cat and doghe/she could also be preyed upon by coyotes, owls, eagles, foxes, and unleashed dogs. Disease is another issue. Currently, there are about 60 million stray cats in the United States – some of which could infect your pet with life-threatening diseases. Some of these illnesses include,  Feline Leukemia, Feline immunodeficiency virus, Feline infectious Peritonitis, Feline Distemper, and upper respiratory infections.

Cats that are allowed outdoors are also exposed to parasites, such as ticks, fleas, ear mites, intestinal worms, and ringworms. For owners, getting rid of these “bugs” is often a very tiresome, expensive, and lengthy process.

Toxins & people

When cats roam, they often come into contact with toxins such as antifreeze and/or rodent poison. Because antifreeze has a sweet taste, it may entice your pet. Your pet could also stumble upon rodent poison and mistake it for a possible food source. If your cat were to consume a rodent who ingested poison, he/she could also be become very sick, and could potentially die.

Believe it or not, there are many people who would find it entertaining to shoot, run over, Black catpoison, or torture your pet. Some may even abduct them as bait for dog fighting. Because cats have an unfair association with the supernatural, they’re sometimes sacrificed – especially around Halloween. Several humane shelters across the United States refuse to adopt out cats the week of this holiday for this very reason.

Domestic cats are sometimes picked up by animal control and are taken to humane shelters with kill policies. Because of this, it’s possible that your cat could be euthanized if not redeemed in time. According to the ASPCA, 1.4 million cats are put to sleep each year in the United States. Although it’s difficult to say how many of these cats are runaway pets, it’s plausible to assume that a significant portion could be. While it’s important to provide a collar with contact information on it, it’s best to keep your cat indoors, and supervise them while outside.

Threats to Wild Birds and their habitat

It’s estimated that cats kill between 1.4-3.7 billion wild birds each year. For small cat picturemammals, the number is a whopping 15 billion! Although these numbers include kills from feral cats, their domesticated counterparts are said to be responsible for 1/3rd of bird deaths and 1/10th of mammal deaths. This means that pet cats kill up to 462 million birds and 1.5 billion mammals each year… this is not good for wildlife and the environment.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, 800 bird species in the United States are either endangered, threatened, are in significant decline. Because domestic cats place such a significant pressure on bird and animal species, its unethical to allow feline pets to hunt them. By adopting some of the following solutions, you can keep your kitty safe, as well as alleviate some of the pressures on wildlife.

Solutions

It may sound unorthodox, but if you want to take your cat outside, consider getting cat with leashhim/her a harness and leash. Many people are now walking their cats for their daily exercise. This is a very safe way to allow your pet to have outside time, without the dangers associated with roaming. It provides additional bonding between you and your pet, and helps protect bird and small mammals from being overhunted.

Another option is an outside kitty enclosure. These structures allow your cat to experience the joys of being outdoors, while also keeping them safe. They’re relatively inexpensive, and can even be fun DIY projects for you to try. Here’s one example of such a project, although there are several more on sites like Pintrest.

Providing toys, a scratching post, and a place to hide will also benefit your cat’s well being, and will decrease their desire to venture outside. If they seem to lose interest in their toys, you can consider rotating them occasionally.

Let’s face it, your cat is your baby. You  wouldn’t want to jeopardize his/her happiness, health, or safety. By keeping your cat indoors, responsibly walking them, providing an  outside enclosure, and ensuring a mentally stimulating indoor setting, you will significantly increase the likelihood of a long, happy life for them. Remember, your cat doesn’t really have nine lives. It’s up to you to protect the only one they have!

sleeping cat

 

For more information check out the links below:
The Dangers and Risks For Outdoor Cats
6 Reasons you Might Let Your Cat Out, and Why Not To
Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

 

 

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