It is a common practice and misconception that cats NEED to go outside to live happy lives. This just isn’t the case and it seems that the risks outweigh the benefits greatly. Here at Grapevine Animal Services, we take multiple lost cat calls every day and only about 3% of cats entering the shelter are ever reclaimed by their owners. Before you open the door for kitty, here are some things to consider.
- Cars—cats don’t avoid streets and try to make a run for it between or under cars and are crushed
- Loose dogs—dogs that are at large don’t see much difference between a cat and another fun fuzzy animal to chase
- Wildlife—most people think about predators on the ground such as coyotes, but birds of prey are likely to take your cat as well. Many wildlife scavenge after the cat has already been struck by a car
- Cruelty—some people have a desire to harm animals or see the cat as a “pest”. They can be poisoned or shot with arrows/bb guns, etc.
- Disease—feral cats or other cats in the area may not be vaccinated and can carry contagious diseases that are serious such as feline leukemia and feline AIDS. There are also things like fleas/ticks and intestinal parasites that aren’t something you want brought into your home.
But Won’t My Cat Be Bored?
Cats love to climb and there are many toys and interactive items that you can provide to enrich their indoor lifestyle.
- While cats have individual preferences for favorite types of toys, most enjoy the thrill of getting any new toy. However, just like children, they may get bored with it after a few days. This does not mean you have to buy your cat new toys constantly. Try putting some of the toys away while you leave others out, and then rotate them every few days to give your kitty the “new toy” excitement without the expense.
- A great way to stimulate a cat’s hunting instinct is to provide your cat with a prey-like toy, such as a laser toy or kitty fishing pole. Enjoying these types of toys with your cat for several minutes each day is an ideal way to interact with your cat and provide much-needed exercise and playtime, while allowing an appropriate outlet for her natural prey drive.
- Indoor cats should be provided with appropriate surfaces on which to exercise their natural instinct to scratch. Cats have individual preferences, and many prefer to have a variety of scratching posts and surfaces, so be sure to offer your cat several types in multiple locations around your house.
- Cat towers and window perches can satisfy a cat’s need to be high up and allow for prime outdoor viewing.
- Many cats enjoy a companion. Think about adopting a buddy for your current kitty—whether it is a cat or a dog!
Provide Safe Outdoor Space:
If your cat REALLY needs some outdoor time, there are safe ways to do so.
- You can install an enclosure such as a screened patio or wire/mesh fencing with a cover
- Some manufactures have attachments that connect from a window and allow the cat access to the outside while still being confined to safety
- Train your cat to a leash/harness system and allow supervised time in the yard
ALWAYS ALWAYS have identification on your cat and get him/her microchipped.