| Newport Daily News
Hello everyone – your friend Tuki is here again. I’ve seen a lot of great animals get new homes, especially recently when so many people were working from home! One thing new cat parents ask is whether to keep their cat indoors or out.
Many cat owners feel guilty about keeping their cat indoors and fear that they are depriving their cat of natural instincts or fresh air and sunshine. If you’ve experienced some of these feelings, the Potter League values your concern for your feline friend and wants to help you make an informed decision.
An important consideration for cat lovers thinking about letting their cat outdoors is safety. In addition to the risks posed by fellow cats, other potential hazards can seriously endanger your cat’s well-being – and even their life – including cars, loose dogs, and toxins and poisons, to name a few.
Cats outdoors are also more likely to be exposed to diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or sometimes Feline AIDS, Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), distemper, and rabies because they come into contact with other animals that have not been vaccinated against these diseases . There are also fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, and roundworms to worry about. Medicines for these pests can be given to your cat, but they can be difficult to get rid of – both on your cat and in your home.
Disease and pests aren’t the only problems when cats are exposed to animals outdoors. There are plenty of animals like raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and even alligators (well, maybe no alligators on this island!) That will chase your cat. Not to mention people out there who don’t like wild cats.
In addition, cats are hunters; You are hardwired to hunt. You will catch native wildlife including songbirds. While a cat’s impact doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s important to think about the overall impact of all cats allowed outside. It is estimated that wild cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year.
Now you may be wondering if there is a way to let your cat enjoy the outdoors without all of these risks. The answer is yes – there are many things you can do.
If you have a screened porch in your house, you can let your cat out on the porch. It’s not quite the same as roaming the neighborhood, but it’s enough for some cats in the open air. You can also build a “Catio” for your cat friend! A Catio is an outdoor cat enclosure or a “cat terrace”. This is the perfect solution to solving the indoor and outdoor dilemma and keeping your cat safe, healthy and happy. There are many affordable and easy DIY plans online.
You could also consider a companion for your cat. Many cats enjoy the company of other cats, or in some cases, dogs! Playing, hunting, and grooming and cuddling each other can all meet your house cat’s need for exercise, companionship, and affection while you are at work or not at home.
Make time each day to interact with your cat. We may think cats like to be alone, but they need interaction and entertainment just as much as humans do. Interactive toys stimulate your house cat physically and mentally, and scratch posts to exercise its natural scratching instinct. There are many different types of toys you can provide for your cat like laser toys, cat fishing poles, small balls to hunt, but something as simple as a cardboard box can keep your cat entertained for hours.
The ideal indoor climate for your cat should also include climbing areas, cat bars and hiding spots. Cats love to climb, so providing a cat bass is a great option. Some perches are equipped with built-in scratching posts. Make sure the perch is in the sun for at least part of the day – cats love to bask in the sun – or put a bird feeder or aviary in front of a window near the perch for extra entertainment – like television for your cat – no cables required.
Regardless of whether your cat is a wild indoor or outdoor cat, make sure your cat is spayed or neutered. You also want to make sure your cat visits a veterinarian regularly and stays up to date on all vaccinations, as well as flea, tick and parasite prevention.
Another good idea is to have your cat microchipped. If your cat is ever lost or injured, someone with a chip reader can help them find their way home.
After all, we are all for keeping your cat on a leash – provided you have the thumbs up from the most important family member: the cat actually wants to go for a walk. If your cat doesn’t usually hang out near the front door and show no interest in the outdoors – or even afraid of going outside – don’t bother yourself.
However, if your cat is infinitely intrigued by what’s going on out there, it is likely a perfect candidate for the “catwalk”. Yes we went there. There are plenty of resources online on how to fit and acclimate your cat to a harness – and once it is used to the harness, your cat is sure to be able to enjoy the joys of an outdoor walk.
After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of having an indoor or outdoor cat, I hope you consider keeping your cat indoors – and that of my bird friends – for their health and safety. I am a bird after all.
‘Until next time!
Send questions to Tuki, PO Box 412, Newport, RI 02840, or email TukiTalk@PotterLeague.org. The Potter League for Animals can be found at 87 Oliphant Lane in Middletown and online at potterleague.org.