Lisa Chelenza knows that not everyone in your family walks on two legs. For helpful tips on taking care of your animal friends, and advice from local veterinary experts, watch Pet Pointers Wednesday and Saturday on YNN. If you have ideas for Pet Pointers segments, email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pet Pointers: Indoor cats vs. outdoor cats
There is some debate among cat lovers about whether cats should be indoors only or be allowed outside. In this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza looks at the pros and cons of keeping cats inside or out.
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There is something natural about letting our cats sit on the front porch or stalk the yard or garden. The fresh air, the exercise… But let’s think about the bigger picture and all of the potential dangers your cats may encounter.
Cats are great hunters but not very discriminating when it comes to prey. Some migratory song bird populations have been decreasing over the last few decades due in part to the increasing number of cats in the United States. Some bird researchers estimate millions of song birds fall victim to prowling house cats each year.
However, one benefit to allowing cats out is that they are helpful in reducing rodent populations in barns or horse stables.
Other larger animals, as well as large predatory birds, are a serious risk to outdoor cats. Dogs, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and even hawks and eagles can easily kill or injure a cat in seconds.
Another negative to consider is the risk that your cat could become infected with parasites like tapeworms. De-worming outdoor cats every three to four months or when infection is found can help keep them parasite free. Contracting an infectious disease like FIV is also a potential issue. If vaccines are not current, your cat could be at risk, especially if they venture outside.
Humans are a risk to outdoor cats. Traffic claims the lives of countless cats on quiet country roads or busy city streets. If you have neighbors, they may not want your cat digging in their garden. There are also people who would harm a cat they were found prowling on their property.
If you keep your cat inside exclusively, with proper veterinary care, good nutrition and some exercise, your cat could live into their 20s. Most cats will live into their teens, but cats that are outdoor only, statistically, live fewer than ten years.
Either way your cat spends their time, be sure to have them micro chipped, vaccinated, and up to date on their flea control just to be sure they are always covered with the basics.