older cat clip

Compared to dogs, cats do seem much lower maintenance, but they still require a significant amount of care despite their reputation for being independent. (metro image)

If you are someone who has always had an outdoor cat, you may wonder what the harm is in letting your pet roam around the great outdoors of your city or town.

The reality is, predators, cars and even neighbors who may find your pet to be a nuisance are all threats to its safety. Also, outdoor cats have an increased risk of disease, fleas and ticks. And they have a better chance of interacting with potentially infected wildlife, meaning a higher risk of contracting disease, including rabies, through a scratch or a bite wound.

One of the most common misconceptions for letting a cat roam outdoors is that if a family lives in the country there are fewer dangers to worry about. But that just means your cat is more likely to get eaten by a predator. You wouldn’t let your child play in the woods alone at night, nor should you let your cat roam the woods, or the streets.

If your cat does return home with a wound, you have to take it to the vet and, depending on your state’s laws, the animal may have to undergo a 45-day to four-month quarantine as a rabies precaution, depending on its vaccination status.

Many people feel that letting their cats out gives them a fuller life. The truth is, pet owners can enrich their cats lives in so many other ways.

Training your cat to walk outside on a harness and leash for a bit of fresh air is a great alternative. Screened porches, sometimes called “catios,” are perfect for letting your cat take in the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors while remaining safely in the comfort of your home.

Animal shelters and rescue organizations have tightened their adoption policies in recent years by requiring that cats be indoor-only pets.

According to statistics gathered by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an estimated 3.2 million cats enter shelters in the United States every year, and approximately 1.6 million are adopted out into homes. The American Pet Products Association estimates there are nearly 86 million owned cats in the U.S.

In a time when pets are considered family, choose to keep your cat safe by keeping it indoors.

Kristina O’Keefe is the animal control officer in North Attleboro and oversees the town’s animal shelter. She blogs at kristinascritters.com to promote the status of animals in society.

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