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Should she stay or should she go?

 | July 23, 2012

So you’ve encountered the odd cat lover who shakes his head and goes “tsk…tsk…tsk” because you’ve relegated your cat to a life behind bars.

In an ideal world, your cat should be able to roam freely in the sunshine, chasing butterflies, climbing trees and tumbling around with her other feline friends.

However her world is far from ideal since many of us live in busy suburban areas, away from rolling hills and open parks where she can live out her life in relative safety.

On average, indoor cats live anywhere between 12 to 20 years while their outdoor buddies less than five years. If that isn’t enough to convince you, here are some compelling reasons why being house bound is the better alternative.

Traffic: if your cat wanders onto a main road, or worse yet a busy highway, she doesn’t have a chance in hell if she’s hit. While not all accidents are fatal, some can cause serious internal and external injuries that may either leave her crippled for life or necessitate her being euthanised. Heaven forbid if she ends up in a drain with a broken leg unable to make it home for days.

Infectious diseases: if your cat is not vaccinated, she could end up contracting fatal feline diseases from other infected cats she associates with. These include feline leukaemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline distemper (panleukopenia) and upper respiratory infections (URI).

Parasites: fleas, ticks, ear mites and intestinal worms are just some of the common parasites outdoor cats get infected with. Ringworm, a kind of fungus can be passed to the humans a cat lives with. If your cat is constantly scratching, vomiting or is often down with diarrhoea, she’s probably infected. Take her to a vet immediately.

Poison: if your cat is left to roam outside, she could also be exposed to all sorts of poisons like pesticides, plant fertilisers, rotting food from dustbins and poisonous plants. If your cat catches a rat that has just consumed rat poison, it is very likely that poison will go into her bloodstream, poisoning and killing her too.

Animals and people: dogs and wild animals like snakes pose a danger to an outdoor cat. Once caught in a fight with either of these animals, it can be fatal for her. People who dislike cats intensely can often times be cruel too – pouring hot water over them, throwing stones at them or poisoning them.

Getting lost: some cats get caught up in the moment and wander too far, ultimately losing their way back home. If your cat is exceptionally pretty or a highly priced pedigree, she’s also more likely to get stolen or catnapped.

Trees and other high places: we’ve all seen super heroes in movies rescue a cat from a tree. And it’s true in real life too. Curious cats sometimes wander too high up a tree or rooftop – probably after a bird or squirrel, and can’t find their way back down. Imagine your kitty stuck on a tree far away from home hungry, cold and frightened.

If you really want your cat to enjoy some outdoor time, take her out on a leash and harness. She’ll fit nicely into a harness for toy dog breeds that most pet stores carry. And although she may object at the start, she’ll get used to it by the second or third walk outside. If you’re really industrious, you could build an outdoor enclosure for her made of soft wire netting so she can venture outside in a controlled, safe environment.






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