Cats allowed to roam outside unattended face more trials and tribulations than the housewives of Wisteria Lane.
When the stray cat first appeared on the porch, he had long silky fur. The homeowner started feeding him and earning his trust. But as the months passed, he got bitten by other cats. He developed enormous abscesses that refused to heal. His coat grew dull.
Finally, the cat's caretaker gained his confidence enough to lure him into a carrier with food and whisk him off to a vet. Sadly, the big, once-handsome cat tested positive for FIV, the feline equivalent of AIDS. Already, the disease had ravaged his teeth and gums. Most of his teeth had fallen out. His gums were flaming red. Eating must have been agony. The disease also damaged his heart. An infection had also spread from his gums, causing irreparable harm.
It was all over. The injection was painless—but not for his human friend.
The Not-So-Great Outdoors
Feline AIDS is a highly contagious, incurable disease for which there is no vaccine. It can only be prevented by keeping cats indoors. It is one of several deadly diseases that cats who roam outdoors can catch. Unattended cats also face dangers posed by dogs, wildlife, and the scariest predator of all, humans.
Thieves, or "bunchers," cruise neighborhoods for friendly dogs and cats who can easily be picked up and sold to dealers, who in turn sell them to laboratories. Cats are often poisoned, shot, set on fire, or trapped and drowned by intolerant neighbors or bored juveniles. They are hit by cars, accidentally poisoned by spilled antifreeze, or maimed by fan blades when they crawl into warm engines on winter days.
"But he wants to go outside." "We live on a very quiet street." "It's cruel to keep her in." These are things said by people who would never dream of opening the door and sending toddlers to wander down the street on their own.
The way we learn not to let the cat out unaccompanied is usually the hard way. In Pompano, Florida, lost dogs and cats were found in a large storage warehouse used by dogfight "trainers." In South Dakota, a fur trader was caught selling cat skins. In Washington, D.C., a cat let out for her daily stroll returned covered in burns from hot cooking grease. In California, a woman searching for her cats found that both had been shot with arrows.
Today's concrete jungles are far too dangerous for vulnerable, trusting little animals. But how do we prevent Tabby from getting bored in the great indoors? Here's how!
Six Steps to Having a Happy Housecat
1. Bring joy with toys. From paper bags and rolled up balls of paper to motorized "mice" and laser pointers, toys perk up even the laziest feline. All-time favorites are Cat Dancer and Cat Charmer.
2. Scratch that itch. Cats love to scratch. Doing so enables them to remove broken claws, stretch muscles, and mark "territory." The best way to save your furniture is to provide lots of "approved" places to scratch. Cat "trees" and posts, cardboard scratching boxes, and those ingenious "cat tracks" (a ball in a circular, partially open plastic tunnel surrounding a cardboard scratching pad) are big hits. Sprinkle catnip on them weekly to keep cats interested, and be sure to replace cardboard inserts when they get worn out.
3. Provide a room with a view. Windows are cat "TV"—a birdbath or feeder placed near a window can provide hours of entertainment. If window sills aren't wide enough, build or buy a cushioned perch (which are available from pet supply stores and catalogs) to attach to the sill. (For safe window-sill perching, make sure that double-hung windows are propped open to prevent them from falling down on cats, and tuck the cords of blinds up and out of the way so that legs and other body parts don't get entangled in them.)
4. Porches bring purrs. A screened-in porch or an enclosure accessible through a window is a great way for your kitty to safely commune with nature. KittyWalk Systems makes enclosures in a variety of configurations that can stand alone or be attached to a cat door. If your yard is fenced, another option is Cat Fence-In, a netting kit that attaches to the top of the fence. No existing fence is necessary to install another escape-proof system called Purrfect Fence, although it is advisable to supplement it with sturdy fencing of some kind to keep dogs and other predators out.
5. Take your kitty out for cat walkies. Cats can be taught to walk on a leash—just be sure to use an ultra-lightweight, retractable leash that's attached to a harness, not a collar. Let your cat get used to the harness for short periods indoors, and then pick a safe outdoor area to explore. KittyWalk Systems also makes a "pet stroller" that allows for longer, brisker walks and provides a measure of safety from free-roaming dogs.
6. Plant a garden—of catnip. Cats will nibble on it and roll in it. Other healthy snacks are wheat grass, alfalfa, and oat grass. (You can buy seed starter kits at companion animal supply stores.)
For more information about how you can make your feline's life more felicitous, read PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk's book, 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You.
Years ago I had two great cats and always kept them inside. Our house was their play ground and if they wanted outside, they were on a leash (they hated it but they to bad). I haven't had animals in almost 10 years and don't want any. The area I live in now everyone has a cat and so, I guess, that means I have cats now because they are forever doing whatever they want in my yard, in my garden, on my step, on my patio by the pool. I DON'T want animals and feel that because someone else does, doesen't mean I have to put up with this crap..literaly. To top it off, driving to work this morning a cat ran out in front of me and BANG, I hit it. I guess he won't be wondering the big outdoors anymore and now I have this image in my head every two minutes of this dead cat. Yes I feel bad, and some little kid does not have their pet anymore. Thanks cat loves who think they should roam the world. If you have a cat, keep it inside, the whole world does not want cats...
I have read almost all of the 3 pages of comments on this and I have to say that NO ONE is correct or incorrect. You can say "Indoors only!" "Outdoors All the Way!"....but in reality, it just matters on your location! If you live in a rough neighborhood where the animal population and care is out of control, then OF COURSE (assuming you have a brain.) You're not going to let your animals (or children.) outside alone! (if at all.) If you live in a suburban area with little threat, then you're going to feel more inclined to let your cat have at the wild grass and insects. (Granted you don't mind a flea infestation brewing lol.) If you live in an apartment (also depending on location.) you're most likely going to keep your pussy cat INDOORS. It prevents them from becoming confused on which building you live in and yada yada. No need for any one to get angry or vilify each other on this thread. All in all, it is just an opinion and PETA suggests solutions to what may be troubling some... I for one, have an indoor/outdoor cat. He never gets into fights. He's neutered. He's vaccinated. He's always on our street. IN FACT, when we come driving home (we live on a cul-de-sac.) he comes racing home to greet us, it's the cutest thing! The funny thing is, when he was about 9 weeks old or so he just showed up in our car's engine. It was early morning and I was on my way to work (it rained the night b4.) and I heard this cute little 'mewing' sound as I walked out to my car....opened the hood of my car and there was this little gray fluff ball! <3 He's been our sweet man for 2 years now. We had moved to an apartment for a year and he was SO unhappy, urinating everywhere and constantly bullying our other cat.....When we moved to our new neighborhood we decided it was safe for him to explore and all of our community knows he is OUR cat, just as I know who's cat is who's. We are ok with them pooping in our gardens, it's as easy as using gloves when you're gardening and chucking it into the garbage. - annoying if the cat population is over bearing I must agree with that person on that. - I'm ranting now...but you all see what I'm saying? It's just a matter of the cat itself, location and opinion. :)
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.