Anyone seen my cat / Who's cat is this?
By Eric Nagy Comm Comm
First off, let me preface this by saying I am an ANIMAL LOVER! I have had many pets through my lifetime, including dogs, cats, snakes, iguana, rats, fish, and probably some others I have left off that list. All of my pets were kept indoors, and in appropriate habitats where applicable (sorry, my snakes were not going to roam my house unless I was actively monitoring them).
If you are a member of the CHP Facebook group, and you weed through all of the people asking about what to do about their neighbors dog barking, you will undoubtedly als see one of these questions asked, about “anybody seen my cat?” or “who’s cat is this?” as there have been at least a dozen over the past year. If every cat owner in the neighborhood were to keep their pet(s) indoors, this number would be far less - probably only one or two a year due to the occasional escape. Certainly this topic will cause people to get upset and defensive, not to mention some of my closest neighborhood friends are “outdoor cat” owners.
Depending on how one defines a “pet” also helps clarify my opinion on this matter. According to Cambridge Dictionary, a “pet” is “an animal that is kept in the home as a companion and treated affectionately.” To me the key point is “kept in the home.” Perhaps if you live on a farm, and keep some cats around to keep rodents in check, that would make sense - but that would be more of a “working animal” than a “pet.”
Dog owners are expected to keep their pets on a leash when taken outside, or perhaps kept in a fenced yard. But for some reason, cat owners are not expected to live by these same rules of pet-ownership. Dog owners are expected to pick up poop from the grass when their pets “pop a squat” in a common area or neighbors yard, in fact the neighborhood has “stations” that have bags and a trash can just for this purpose. But the owners of these outdoor cats seem to never pick up any of the poop delivered into those areas by their pets.
But besides the double standards in the argument for dogs vs cats, there are many other reasons that you should not let your cat outside unattended or without being on a leash:
According to American Humane, letting your cat outside could allow it to come into contact with a feral or homeless stray cat, many of which carry diseases that can be passed onto your cat, and a number of these diseases can be serious or potentially fatal, such as:
- feline leukemia (FeLV)
- feline AIDS (FIV)
- FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
- feline distemper (panleukopenia)
- upper respiratory infections (or URI).
Or perhaps your cat may be exposed to parasites (not usually life threatening) such as fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, or ringworm (a fungal infection).
Other considerations are simply safety concerns, such as:
- Cars (yes, cats get hit by cars just like dogs)
- Animal cruelty (sadly, people shooting with BB guns, throwing rocks, or even catching them and abusing them)
- Loose dogs or other wild animals (coyotes anyone?)
- Toxins such as antifreeze (cats think it tastes yummy)
There are also the environmental concerns, including the sad fact that outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year in the US, according to the America Bird Conservancy. What’s even more concerning, is that cats are the cause of the extinction of 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles in the wild, and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, domestic cats are in the list of “100 of the worlds invasive alien species.”
So, now that you are concerned enough about your loved one that you want to take steps to protect it (and the environment), but are worried that your cat may not acclimate to being transitioned to indoor-only safety, here are some resources to get you started, as well as some other information because I know you are not going to just take my word for it: