Should I let my cat outdoors?
The moment has finally arrived, after months of careful thought and plenty
of research, you finally get to bring home the newest member of the family, a
fabulous new feline. You have everything waiting at home, as you’ve done your
dutiful reconnaissance. There is a perfectly placed litter box, multiple toys strewn
about and plenty of scratching posts and pads. But one of the first things you
notice, whether it be a kitten or full-grown cat, is that anytime the door is open,
or they have the perfect window seat, your furry friend stares longingly at the
outdoors. So, it begs the question, should you let your cat outdoors?
For me personally, the answer is no, and there are multiple reasons why I am adamant about this. Several of these reasons were echoed from the experts in the field, including the Humane Society. For one thing, I live on a busy street, and I worry that my cats will get hit by a car. This is a valid fear, considering that The National Traffic Safety Administration states that 5.4 million cats get hit by cars per year. I personally know several people that have had this happen, and it is heartbreaking.
The second reason that tops my list, is the possibility of animal attacks.
Many of these animals can do great harm to your pet, and many of them are
vectors of disease. In my neighborhood in San Francisco, it is common to see
coyotes wandering around. In my backyard we have trapped several racoons that
animal control has had to take away. Coyotes could cause tremendous harm to a
cat, as could a racoon, and wild animals can transmit rabies, an incurable illness.
Even other cats could possibly transmit Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDS and other
illnesses if they come in contact with your pet.
Lastly, there are environmental concerns at play here. One of my
environmentalist friends brought up the point that cats are hunters and have an
incredibly strong prey drive. I saw a study by the University of Georgia and
National Geographic stating that U.S. cats could kill as many as 4 billion birds and
small animals per year.
There are many ways to let your cat outside that can mitigate the risks to both your pet and wildlife and ensure that the time your pet spends outdoors is safe. If it is possible, you could install a catio. I found a company in Santa Cruz, named Bay Area Catios, who will custom design a safe, outdoor space for your kitty. This allows your cat to enjoy the sun and fresh air, and watch birds gleefully, all while in an enclosed area. You could also put your cat on a leash and take them for walks or attach it to a long line in your outdoor area. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye in the case of the latter, as these lines could become tangled. Ultimately the choice is yours, however, be sure your loved one is microchipped, wearing a collar and up to date on their vaccinations and parasite preventatives.
1. American Humane. 2020. Indoor Cats Vs. Outdoor Cats - American Humane, https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/indoor-cats-vs-outdoor-cats/
2. MNN - Mother Nature Network. 2020. Should You Let Your Cat Outside?,