A cat’s desire to roam outside can be traced back to its distant ancestors. Whether strolling a fence line, lounging in the grass, hunting for birds or mice, or prowling their ever-expanding territory, some cats love walking on the wild side. But how safe is your feline friend when allowed to go outdoors?
While some cats may enjoy their time outside, it is generally safer for cats to be kept indoors. Letting cats outside can pose various dangers to your beloved furry family member. Many people don’t realize the potential dangers until it’s too late. This blog will lay out the most common dangers your feline could face once let outside.
Vehicle traffic is one of the biggest dangers to cats exploring outdoors. As quick and agile as they may be, they can’t outrun a car and rarely survive a run-in with a vehicle. Even on quiet streets, drivers aren’t always able to avoid hitting a cat that suddenly darts into the road.
Other animals can also pose a risk to cats. Outdoor cats are frequently attacked by loose dogs, feral cats, raccoons, and coyotes. During these scuffles, your fur baby could be severely injured or even killed. Even run-ins with other indoor/outdoor cats can be dangerous.
Yes, sadly, people can be a potential danger to your cat. Problems can arise when cats venture into a yard where they are not welcome. Some people consider behaviors such as digging, urinating, and defecating in their yard or garden, jumping on their car, or shedding on porch furniture to be nuisances. People with livestock (ducks, chickens) may worry an outdoor cat will prey on their animals. In some cases, these concerns could lead to people taking matters into their own hands that could potentially harm your furry friend. There are also well-meaning people who assume any cat they see outdoors is a stray and will take it to a shelter, and reuniting with your pet could be a lengthy and expensive process.
Pesticides and Poisons
While you may use pet-friendly insecticides and treatments on your own property, there’s no guarantee that your neighbors do the same. Lawn and garden insecticides can be introduced into your cat’s body through their skin when they walk on a newly treated lawn, or from ingesting them during grooming afterward. Symptoms of toxic poisoning can include everything from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea to seizures and respiratory failure.
There is also a risk that your cat could ingest antifreeze or “bait” pesticides such as slug pellets and rodent poison. These types of poisons are meant to look and smell appetizing to lure animals in when in reality, they are extremely deadly. When sufficient quantities are ingested, it can cause severe internal bleeding and vomiting, and will eventually prove fatal.
Diseases and Parasites
When your cat is outdoors, it may come in contact with feral cats that can carry a number of diseases which can be passed on to your cat. Common diseases that your cat can contract include Feline Leukemia (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Distemper, and upper respiratory infections. Each of these illnesses require veterinary care and treatment to bring your cat back to good health.
Rabies is another highly contagious and very real threat to your cat’s health. Rabies is often harbored by wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and skunks—but it can be seen in domestic dogs and cats. While your cat roams outside, there is a chance it could contract rabies if it’s bitten by an animal that has already contracted the virus.
Parasite infestations are also a concern: fleas, ticks, ear mites, ringworm, and other tiny hitchhikers can catch a ride on your cat while outside and can be difficult and costly to treat.
The best way to keep your cat safe is to keep them indoors. Many products are available to help cats enjoy outdoor views from the safety of their own home, including window perches and fully enclosed “cat tents” that can be placed on a patio or deck. Still, we understand that some cats are highly determined and will find a way to escape to the great outdoors. Here are a few things you can do to keep them safe if they do make their way outside:
- Identification: Make sure your cat has a microchip and is always wearing a collar and ID tag with up-to-date contact information.
- Preventive care: Keep your cat on year-round parasite prevention that treats and controls fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal parasites. In addition, make sure they stay up to date on all vaccinations.
- Provide Shelter: If your cat will be outdoors for an extended period of time, make sure they have access to shade, shelter from the weather, food, and water.
Your pets are our priority!
At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.