The (Not So) Great Outdoors For Cats

The great outdoors may sound like fun for a cat — but there are many dangers lurking outside for our feline friends. The MSPCA strongly advises that all cats be kept indoors only or allowed outside only under supervision.

Consider some of the dangers to your feline friend outdoors:

Cars

  • Your cat can get hit by a car
  • Cats often climb under car hoods to get warm and then get caught in the radiator fan when the engine is started
  • Cats like the sweet taste of anti-freeze, which is poisonous
  • Cats jump into vehicles and when they jump out they are in unknown territory and lost

Rabies

If nothing else convinces you to keep your cat indoors, the increased presence of rabies in New England should! Once contracted, it is fatal and presents a serious risk to your family as well. It is much more likely that people will contract rabies from a family pet that tangles with a wild animal, rather than the wild animal itself. When your cat goes out by itself, you have no idea where it has been or what animals it has come into contact with. Vaccinating your cats and dogs is the law.

Dogs or Other Animals

Dogs or other animals can attack, severely injure or kill your cat. This is not something that could happen — it happens all the time.

Parasites

Cats are hunters by nature. Many cats eat small wild animals and become infested with parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, coccidia and ear mites. The best way to prevent fleas? Keep your cat in a flea-free environment — inside your home! A flea collar does not work if the cat keeps going outside.

Wildlife

While outside, your cat could become injured, killed by a wild animal, or attack and cause problems for area wildlife. In fact, it is no surprise that domestic cats bear a big responsibility for the decline of many local songbird populations, as well as many small mammals.

Neighbors

Be a responsible cat owner and be considerate of your neighbors. They may not want your cat trespassing onto their property and killing the songbirds they love to watch and feed, using their garden or sandbox as a litter-box, or upsetting their own pets.

Getting Lost or Trapped

Your cat might never come home again. It might lose its bearings and wander too far from home. Just take a look at our lost cat book at the shelter. Elderly cats quickly become disoriented outside. Your cat could also get accidentally locked in a neighbor’s basement or shed or be severely maimed or killed in a trap.

Diseases and Catfights

Cat fights can and do result in serious injuries or abscesses and pass deadly feline diseases like Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Upper respiratory infections (URI) and Distemper are also serious threats to cats that go outdoors — especially if they are not vaccinated. Even if your own cat is vaccinated, the risk of coming into contact with infected cats is far greater when your cat is going outside. Remember no vaccines afford 100% protection.

Breeding and Pregnancy

We all know there are too many homeless kittens in the world today. The overpopulation tragedy is why responsible pet owners spay their females and neuter their males. But remember, even if you plan on spaying or neutering your cat, he can breed before the surgery is done.

Poisons

Anti-freeze, weed-killer, and other chemicals used in gardening or lawn care could kill your cat.

Pet Theft, Abuse, and Torture

Your cat could be tortured, stolen and sold for laboratory research, or abused in some sort of cult ritual.

Lifespan Impact

Cats will live longer, healthier lives when kept indoors only. The average life span for a cat that goes outside is 16 months; for a cat that stays inside, it is 16 years.

A Rewarding Indoor Life

Make the “great indoors” fun and entertaining for your cat — grow cat greens, have lots of fun toys, and find a sturdy, good quality scratching post. Learn more!
If after reading this information, you are wondering if there is any way you could allow your cat to exercise outdoors but still keep it safe, we suggest the following:

  • Teach your cat to walk on a cat harness and leash. It can take some time for your cat to get use to this, but it works!
  • Take advantage of a screened porch or build an enclosed run or kennel in your yard or outside a window (you can them leave the window open and the cat can go in and out at will)

And remember, please keep a breakaway collar and an identification tag and rabies tag on your cat at all times. Include your name and phone number on the ID tag, not the cat’s name. Another helpful hint is to include “If I’m outside, I’m lost” or “Indoor cat” on the tag. This will immediately inform any person who finds your cat that this is not an outdoor cat and you want him back! If a visitor drops by or the children are in and out, your cat may slip out the door — an I.D. tag could help save your feline companion’s life!

Every time you open the door to let your cat out, you take a 50/50 chance with your cat’s life. Do not take a chance! Fill your home with love and keep your cat (safe) inside!