Posted by Karen Hadalski at 23 February 2012

Category: animals/pets

As the weather improves, I’m beginning to see more cats out and about.  It amazes me that, in the world as it is today, some still believe it is better for cats to roam at will than to live the life of an indoor pet.  If you are one of these, please consider the following risks to your kitten before turning her loose:

* It is just as illegal to allow a cat to roam free–in virtually every U.S. town–as it is to turn your dog out.  If spotted by or reported to Animal Control, your pet will be carted-off and locked-up in a nanosecond.  Very few ever survive such a fate.

* Free roaming cats are exposed to and at risk for contracting two deadly “outdoor cat” diseases:  FIV (feline HIV) and Feline Leukemia.

* Domestic cats are not as wise and worldly as their feral counterparts and will almost certainly be on the losing end of cat fights.  They will also be easy prey for fox, other woodland creatures; and, if small enough, for birds of prey.

* Neighborhood dogs, even those kept in yards and walked on leash, are a danger to wandering cats.  Curious kittens can slip through small fence openings, unaware of the hundred pound dog lazing on the other side, until it is too late.

* No matter where you live, there is traffic.  Cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, bikes; even skateboards and electric scooters can be deadly. And, cat owners running over their own pets, when pulling in or out of their driveways, is a more common occurrence than you might imagine.

* Even if you live in a quiet neighborhood of neatly manicured lawns, there is a chance that your pet will ingest insecticides while nibbling on that beautiful green grass, or become deathly ill when eating one of the many plants known to be poisonous to cats or an already poisoned rodent.

*Outdoor cats are exposed to every kind of internal and external parasite in existence, which will come right along with him when he returns home to eat or sleep.

* Finally, there exists what is possibly the most dangerous threat of all to friendly, unsuspecting pets: ill-intentioned, cat-hating human beings.

If, after giving the indoor versus outdoor lifestyle a second glance you still decide to allow your kitten to roam free, please do everything possible to give her a fighting chance:

* Make sure you cat receives inoculations for FIV & Leukemia in addition to rabies and standard feline vaccines.

*Never, ever de-claw a cat that has unsupervised access to the out doors.  Claws are its only means of self-defense and will also allow it to climb a tree to safety.

* Spay/neuter your pet before turning it loose. Otherwise, your female will most certainly be impregnated and your male, while wandering far and wide, might become lost or find himself in competition–translate “cat fights”– with other Toms over territory and females.

* Administer monthly flea, tick, and heart worm preventatives religiously.

* Take your pet to a veterinarian at least every 6 months for a thorough once-over.

* And, perhaps most importantly, provide your pet with up-to-date identification in the form of both a microchip (easily inserted and registered by any veterinarian) and a break-away collar with contact, rabies, and animal license tags.  If lost, injured, or picked-up by Animal Control, this will provide the only hope of being reunited with your kitten.

Finally, if you are not a cat owner, but find a lost or injured stray, please provide a safe, warm temporary shelter; along with food and water; while you either attempt to locate its owner or call your local SPCA for assistance.



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