After conversations with potential adopters and current pet owners, we’ve come to realize that people are unaware of the dangers of having “outdoor” cats.

Unlike dogs, who are outside on leashes or watched in the backyard, cats who are let outdoors are often allowed to roam freely until they feel like coming home.

This leaves your pet cat vulnerable to lots of preventable outdoor accidents. Here are our top seven reasons to keep your cat indoors.

Cars

Cars kill about 5.4 million cats each year, making them the deadliest killer to outdoor cats.

Most of the time, these accidents are fatal. If your cat does survive a car accident, they usually have severe injuries that will require surgery or other intensive procedures.

You may feel that your pet is careful enough to avoid cars, but it only takes one moment to become a disaster. Both drivers and cats can become distracted or simply misjudge distance.

Cat Fights

If you’ve ever been a cat owner, you know that cats are very territorial and solitary animals. Letting your cats roam around outside can lead to getting into territory disputes with other cats in the area. Those disputes can even turn violent. Cat fights often result in bites, scratches, infections and even abscesses.

Abscesses form when a bite becomes infected and are extremely painful for the cat. Some of the symptoms of abscesses are fever and decreased appetite. To treat these, you must consult your vet, have your cat undergo a surgical procedure, and take oral antibiotics.

Viral Infections and Parasites

Outdoor cats are at a much higher risk for contracting both viral infections and parasites.

Viral infections are another leading cause of death in cats. Some of those infections are

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
  • Panleukopenia (Feline Distempter)
  • Rabies
  • Zoonotic

Some of these diseases can be transferred by close contact alone and does not require contact with exposed skin.

Unfortunately, not all of these infections have effective vaccines and there is currently no cure for any of them. The best way to protect your cats from contracting these infections is to keep them inside.

Additionally, outdoor cats are exponentially more likely to come into contact with parasites such as

  • Heartworm
  • Hookworm
  • Roundworm
  • Toxoplasma
  • Whipworms

In fact, we frequently have cats brought to us at the Humane Society of Macomb that have heartworm or other parasites. If not treated, parasites can cause serious and fatal diseases in cats.

Luckily, we are often able to treat these parasites and prevent cats from developing other more severe issues.

Poisons

While roaming outside, your cat is also likely to come across poisons. The most common types of outdoor poisons that your cat can encounter are

  • Anti-freeze
  • Fertilizers
  • Insecticides
  • Paint
  • Rat poison
  • Rodenticides

The most dangerous poisons are the ones used to attract and kill pests and smaller animals, because they are often scented or sweetened to draw in animals. Unfortunately, that can include your pet cat.

Becoming Lost or Stolen

By keeping your cats inside, they are less likely to become lost or stolen.

Even with all the precautions you may take as an owner, tragedies can still strike. Collars can be break or be removed. Not everyone will see your “lost pet” signs. Someone who steals your pet is not going to check with a veterinarian if they are microchipped or not.

It is safer for your cats and less stressful for you as an owner to keep your pet inside.

Weather and Temperature

In places with unpredictable weather, such as Michigan, you never know what the day will hold. In just a week it can go from 70 degrees and sunny to 20 and snowing.

Cats left outside in rapidly changing weather can suffer heat stroke and dehydration in hot conditions and hypothermia or frostbite in the winter and at night.

Wild Animals

When outside, your pet cat can be both predator and prey.

Outdoor cats are known to kill birds, mice, rabbits, and other small wildlife animals. The danger here is that these animals could be carrying diseases that are dangerous to cats and to humans. They could also try to bring these small animals into your home.

Outdoor cats can be killed be larger predators such as dogs, coyotes, foxes, snakes, and alligators.

Hopefully these seven reasons have made you reconsider having an outdoor cat. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone from the Humane Society of Macomb about this topic, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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