Outdoor cats face death every day from road traffic and it is the number one cat killer but cars are not the only threat they face when you let them out of your home.
Other ways your pet cat can be killed or seriously injured/maimed include pesticides and poisonous plants in neighbouring gardens, poisonous mice and rats that are easy prey because they themselves have been poisoned, intentional cat poisonings, fights with bored dogs and other animals, even bored juveniles etc. etc.
They can also be stolen for resale as pets and in America recently there was a case where cats were being stolen and then sold on as lab animals.
Then there is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FID) which is the cat version of AIDS. It is passed from cat to cat and vets the world over are reporting an increase in cases. It is highly contagious between cats and there is no known cure.
Between 2.5 and 4.4% of the worlds cats are infected with FID and with no vaccine available the only prevention is to keep your cat indoors and away from other cats.
Of course, lets not forget the reason for this web site and why I’m trying to convince you to stop allowing your cat to roam – an indoor cat means you won’t have any conflicts with your neighbours.
Every day I get at least one email from an upset cat owner declaring that ‘it’s cruel to keep a cat indoors’ but the fact is an indoor cat has an average lifespan of 12 years while for a cat allowed to roam regularly it is just under 5 years so tell me, who’s being cruel now?
How to keep an indoor cat happy
Cat Enclosures – Building or buying a cat enclosure for your garden is a compromise that allows your cat to play outdoors but in a safe environment away from health risks and your neighbours gardens.
A Room With a View – Cats love to watch the wildlife in the garden so a porch or conservatory that your cat can enter directly from the house while you are at work will keep him occupied for hours at a time as he watches the world go by.
If you aren’t lucky enough to own a conservatory or sun porch then a window sill with a good view is another option your cat will enjoy.
Enclose your Garden – Make your garden escape proof so you can let your cat out whenever you like and without fear of them escaping and coming to harm. There are many commercial cat fences available. One of the best I have seen in action is the Purrfect Fence and it is available in both America and the British Isles.
It can be erected free standing or they have a conversion system which is simply fixed to your existing garden fence and is very cost effective.
Provide Scratch Posts – One excuse for not keeping a cat indoors is damage to the furniture but as long as you provide plenty of approved places for them to scratch this shouldn’t be a problem.
Keep your Cat Fit – Another excuse I hear is that indoor cats are unfit and often fat and lazy but a fat indoor cat is more down to a lazy owner than the cat itself. Schedule some play time to keep your cat active and provide plenty of toys, changed regularly to avoid boredom.
Many local authorities in America, Australia and other countries now have bi-laws that make it illegal to allow your cat to roam. Even though we have nothing like that in the UK, you can be sure that as the cat population continues to grow and as gardening and outdoor living increases thanks to more free time and the fact we are all longer living, more and more conflicts will arise between cat owners and their neighbours.
Don’t wait for a change in the law or until you have fallen out with your neighbours or worse, your cat to be injured – be a responsible cat owner now.
If you simply can’t keep your cat indoors full time then you should at least keep them in at night to cut down on the wildlife it kills. You should also get your cat neutered as it will be less likely to roam and less inclined to go around marking out its territory.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) strongly recommend all cats are kept in the home and offer plenty of tips and advice on indoor cats.
Best Friends offer advice on training your cat and how to keep them safe.
Changes for cat people – The BBC’s Springwatch is calling for changes to the way we keep cats.