Top reasons to keep your cat indoors
Many cat lovers are now savvy to the fact that indoor cats are safer cats, while others still think that cats deserve freedom to run in the great outdoors. When humans domesticated cats, we took on the responsibility for their health and welfare. Part of that responsibility is to keep cats safe and in good health. For those intent on letting cats roam free, consider the following reasons to keep cats indoors:
- To monitor your cat’s urinary tract/bowel health
- An indoor cat is relatively safe from many diseases
- Indoor cats do not get hit by cars
- Indoor cats are safe from predators and dog packs
- Indoor cats don’t create neighbor problems
- Indoor cats rarely get abscesses from fighting
- Indoor cats are safe from human abuse
- Indoor cats can get plenty of exercise
- Indoor cats are not a danger to wildlife
- Indoor cats don’t get lost or stolen
- Indoor cats are not in danger from wildlife
Cats can be happily kept inside all the time. Many people do so and would have it no other way. They say they have deeper and more satisfying relationships with their cats and that those cats are healthier and live longer. Looking at the above list alone, clearly there are many good reasons for permanently keeping cats indoors.
Physiological Reactions To Stress
An outdoor cat lives a more stressful life than an indoor cat, and stress leads to a myriad of physical and psychological changes. Many of these changes are triggered by the release of the hormone adrenaline from the adrenal glands. If the challenge persists, other hormones are released. Chronic exposure to such substances can cause organ systems to start degenerating, resulting in such negative effects as decreased immune response, stomach ulcers and decreased growth to name a few.
Isn’t It Cruel?
Some people feel that it is cruel to confine cats because they think of them as “free spirits” that should be allowed to roam at will because of their nature. They seem to give little thought to the consequences listed above. So, how can we resolve this dilemma? We can do so by enriching the daily life of the indoor cat to replace some of the stimulation and activity it would otherwise receive as a free roaming animal. This environmental enrichment puts complexity, unpredictability and choices into a cat’s daily life.
How Is It Done?
Environmental enrichment aims to satisfy a cat’s need for interaction with its environment. This can be done in many ways, some of which suit some cats better than others. Cats are notoriously individualistic. Some activities involve the owner in active participation, while others just have to be set up and left for the cat to use when it wishes. By doing more for their cats, owners also enrich their own lives. Here are a few simple ideas of what you can do with your cat at home.
Chasing and Jumping
A hand-held laser pointer, non-toxic soap bubbles, newspaper balls or fluffy feathers on a pole can get some cats, particularly the younger ones jumping and striking.
Watching an Interesting Scene
Providing a window perch can offer hours of entertainment that is safe and interesting.
Expand your cats environment by using the height of the rooms by providing walkways between high points or a tall scratching post.
Paper Bags & Boxes
They say that “Curiosity killed the cat,” and watching cats check out newly arrived containers shows how keen they are at investigating. Allowing them access to these new shapes and smells will add novelty to their lives.
Catnip, Cat Mint & Cat Grasses
These plants can be successfully grown indoors in pots from seeds or small plants that are commercially available. Many cats will visit a catnip plant each day to sniff, rub, grasp, roll alongside and kick at it.
Various structures can be used to allow cats out into fresh air but restricting their movements to certain areas. Wire netting can be used to enclose an area alongside the house just like an aviary for birds.
Outdoor cats on the street, or even in the country, are faced every day with territorial disputes, threats from other animals, people, cars and environmental noises which cause panic and fear.
According to Dr. James Richards, Director, Cornell Feline Health Center, “Indoor cats are unquestionably safer and healthier than outdoor cats, and they make better household pets. They don’t endanger birds and other wildlife or bring home fleas or dead animals, nor do they need frequent visits to the veterinarian to treat injuries sustained in scrapes with rival cats.”
Please visit the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, The Indoor Cat Initiative for further information at http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/indoor-cat-initiative.
No More Mug Shots:
Microchipping Replaces “Lost Pet” Posters
By Jack Sommars
Of the10 million pets that get lost each year, only 17% of the dogs and 2% of the cats are ever recovered. “But Fluffy is an indoor kitty,” you may be thinking. “She doesn’t need an ID tag.”
A study conducted by Linda Lord, DVM, PhD, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, found that 41% of people looking for their lost cats considered them indoor-only pets. “They may not go outside, but it only takes one time to lose a pet,” warns Daniel Aja, DVM, of AAHA-accredited Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. “You might have cleaners over, workers who are remodeling, or kids who leave the door open. And indoor pets are probably the most at risk because once they get outside, they’ll get scared and run and hide.
“Also, you never know when a natural disaster might strike. Think about the thousands of animals that were displaced by Hurricane Katrina .” That’s why Aja recommends every dog or cat be microchipped.
“It’s a simple procedure that only takes a few seconds,” he explains. “It’s similar to a vaccination, except we insert a chip the size of a grain of rice under the pet’s skin. There’s no need for anesthesia. Your pet may make a little yelp, but it’s just like getting another shot.”
In almost every case, microchips are good for the life of your dog or cat. Millions of animals have been chipped in the past decade with very few side effects. The sterile microchip does not contain a battery and is hermetically sealed with FDA-approved silica glass to prevent leakage.
“If your pet ever gets lost and is picked up by a good Samaritan or an animal control agency, it can be scanned at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic,” says Stephen Barabas, DVM, senior manager of veterinary affairs at Schering-Plough HomeAgain, one of five companies that distributes microchips within the United States. “If a microchip is under the skin, the scanner will display its unique identification code. Then the clinic or shelter will simply contact the manufacturer or distribution company based on the code of the microchip. The company’s database is searched for the animal’s ID number and the pet owner is contacted.” Some microchip companies provide additional services such as alerting local veterinary clinics and animal shelters when a pet is reported lost. Barabas says that more than 500,000 pets have been recovered by HomeAgain, more than 95,000 in 2007 alone.
Unfortunately, some pet owners — as many as 50% — fail to enter their information into the database when the pet is microchipped, rendering the chip useless. Be sure to always confirm your contact information with your microchip company, especially if you move or change phone numbers. A microchip collar tag is usually provided and tells the finder that the pet has been microchipped. That triggers the finder to take the pet to a shelter or veterinarian to have it scanned. It really helps speed the process.”
Finally, a microchip is not a global positioning system-today’s chips are not powered. It’s a radio frequency that’s triggered when you run the scanner over the top of them.
For additional information about microchipping, see the article “Microchipping” at the AAHA HealthyPet.com Pet Care Library or call our office at anytime.