The debate about whether cats should be kept indoors 100 percent of the time or whether they should be allowed to spend some (or all) of their time outside has been raging through the cat-loving community for years. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, however, it’s important that you realize the sorts of hazards that cats are exposed to outside the safety of your home. He is a look at seven things that could threaten the life of your outdoor cat.
Not only do you need to worry about your cat getting hit by a car (a definite risk whether you live on a busy street or not), but cats can also be injured or killed by parked cars. Kitties are infamous for crawling up inside the engines of cars to try to stay warm, and if you start the car while the cat is still in there, it could be a disastrous situation.
From coyotes to birds of prey, cats often strike predators as a delicious meal option. You can’t think your cat is safe just because you don’t see these animals around your neighborhood. Coyotes, especially, are masters at hiding during the day, and they can be found in urban areas as well as in the country. Even domesticated dogs can pose a major risk to outdoor cats–especially dogs that are allowed to walk off leash.
Feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia are just two of the contagious diseases that can spread extremely easily between cats in the wild. Notoriously territorial, it’s very common for outdoor cats to get into fights with other cats, which could easily put them at risk to catching these and other infections. Many kitties also don’t know to stay away from raccoons, possums, rats, and other wild animals, and they can catch rabies and other zoonotic diseases from them (as well as potentially spreading these diseases to you).
Antifreeze that leaks from your car, pesticides on you plants, and the bait in rat or mouse traps can all be lethal if consumed by your cat. Most kitties also love to nibble on the leaves of plants, but certain varieties are poisonous. Of course, your indoor cat could easily be exposed to poisons as well, but it’s easier to keep Fluffy away from them if she’s not allowed to wander the neighborhood.
Just because you love cats doesn’t mean that strangers in your neighborhood feel the same way. There are terrible people in the world who torture and kill cats for fun. Others wander the streets looking for kitties that they can capture and sell to research facilities. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, make sure that you keep him inside when you expect an increase in foot traffic through your neighborhood. As a prime example, black cats should always be kept indoors during the weeks leading up to Halloween.
More than just a movie plotline, firefighters really are occasionally forced to climb up a tree to rescue a cat that can’t get down. Overzealous kitties hunting birds or just exploring will often get themselves into situations they can’t find a way out of, and you may not realize your cat was stuck up a tree until it’s too late.
From pesky external infestations like fleas and ticks to internal parasites like intestinal worms, you never know what critters your outdoor cat might bring home. Though most aren’t life-threatening, parasites can cause uncomfortable symptoms for your pet and can easily be spread to the other animals and humans in your house. The biggest problem with parasites is how difficult they are to get rid of. Once your cat is infested, it may take weeks or months to get the situation under control.