By Hugh Chisholm, DVM (retired)
Emily was an adorable little kitten when she came to me for her first vaccination at 8 weeks of age. She had the biggest, brightest eyes I’d ever seen and a purr that would drown out a lawnmower! I fell in love instantly (I fell in love with a LOT of kittens over 25 years of veterinary practice). I wasn’t prepared for the sight of her when she returned two weeks later barely clinging to life. Her owner had been letting her roam outdoors and a neighbourhood dog had attacked her. The good news is that she survived and lived to a ripe old age. The bad news is that she suffered greatly as a result of the attack – 3 broken legs, bruised lungs and multiple lacerations. Needless to say, her veterinary bill was steep. Fortunately, her owner had the financial resources to pay for her care.
The risks for outdoor cats are numerous – automobiles, predators, parasites, diseases, evil humans and even other cats. Many people think their cat has “street smarts” until the day they find out that bad things can happen to ANY cat, no matter how clever they are. Why take the risk? Your indoor cat will be safer, healthier and happier than they would be in a recovery kennel in a veterinary hospital… assuming they survive.
The key to keeping an indoor cat happy is to provide a stimulating environment. The best time to start is when they’re kittens but even adult cats can become indoor cats – it just takes a bit longer. There’s nothing worse than a bored cat who sleeps all day and becomes fat and lazy! Check out Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative website for some great ideas on enriching the life of your indoor cat.
Can’t stand the idea of keeping your cat indoors? Why not consider a catio or a cat-proof fence? Your cat can enjoy the outdoors in a safe, controlled environment. Many of my friends have catios attached to their homes and their cats love them! Another friend takes his cat for leash walks around his neighbourhood. I enclosed my back yard with a cat proof fence. My cats safely roam around outdoors without the risks they’d face if they were roaming the neighbourhood. I regularly see posters of neighbour’s cats that have gone missing – I hate to think what might have happened to them.