If you have a cat in New York, you might think about whether you want your cat to be indoor-outdoor or strictly indoor. Many people believe that this is a choice cat owners should make for their cats, but the truth is that outdoor cats have a negative impact on the environment, their own lifespans, and their owners’ health. Typically, indoor cats have a longer life expectancy than outdoor cats, for a variety of reasons. Here’s what you should consider before thinking about allowing your cat outside.
Impact on the Local Environment
Using conservative estimates, domestic outdoor cats in the United States kill between 1.3 and four billion birds every year. Over time, this has led to some bird and reptile populations becoming endangered or even extinct. Outdoor cats hunt even if they’re well fed due to their natural predatory instincts, and this impact, spread out over millions of outdoor cats, is harmful.
Potential for Danger From Animals and Vehicles
As much as you love your cat, you should want them to be as safe as possible. This is one of the reasons outdoor cats aren’t a good idea; other cats, local mammals and vehicles can all pose a huge threat to your cat’s well-being. New York is generally very urban, with many other animals and vehicles, and that can seriously harm your cat if you let them stay outside.
Diseases and Parasites
Many viral infections are passed between cats very easily when the cats are outdoors. This is especially true when it comes to the Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus; indoor cats with no other exposure to cats have minimal risk for these infections. But it may be possible that they can be exposed as kittens or from other newly introduced indoor cats to the household. Outdoor cats are at a fairly high risk. Parasites are also a large problem, as cats that scavenge are at higher risk of parasitic infections.
Transmission of Diseases to Humans
Some outdoor cat diseases pass from cat to cat, but others can pass from cat to human. That means you could get sick from having an outdoor cat, with a few of the most common concerns being:
- Rabies is the #1 zoonotic disease in the world and has been found in urban centers. All domesticated animals are legally supposed to be vaccinated against it, whether they are indoor or outdoor pets, however that’s not always the case.
- Not just outdoor cats, but all cats can carry Pasteurella multocida, a bacterium found in cat mouths, which can lead to serious complications in cat bites, including heart infection
- Scabies, a parasitic infestation that can occur in both cats and humans, and requires deep cleaning of clothes and bedding to get rid of
- Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that cats can get from eating undercooked meats, eating infected animals and birds or by having contact with other infected cats. It can cause flu-like symptoms and if your cat is pregnant, it may also be a potential concern with unborn fetus.
Some of these diseases may not even manifest obviously in the cat, making it even more difficult to tell that they’re sick. If you want to be safe, your best bet is to keep your cat indoors, as outdoor cats are at a higher risk of a wide variety of diseases.
Keeping Your Cat Safe Indoors
If you have a cat in New York, it’s best to keep them indoors only. Cats who go outdoors are at much higher risk for death and illness. Make sure you have a veterinarian in New York who can give you tips and tricks on how to keep your pet engaged if they seem restless indoors. It’ll always be better to keep your cat indoors with enrichment toys than to allow them to go outdoors.
At the end of the day, experts of all kinds are trying hard to make sure that people across the United States avoid keeping their cats outdoors. If you have a cat, keep that cat indoors. It’ll keep your cat safer, help them avoid incurable illnesses like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and allow them to live longer than they would as an outdoor cat.
photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/m7qVYuGRd_4
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