often go to
great lengths to
make their furry
feel good, and
some may allow cats to roam outside. Though such
a decision may be well-intentioned, it could lead to
some troubling consequences.
The animal welfare organization American Humane
notes that allowing indoor cats outside could jeopardize
their health and safety in a number of ways.
Cats allowed to venture outside may encounter
feral cats, which American Humane notes can be
carriers of disease. A 2014 study published in the
journal Zoonoses and Public Health estimated that
between 60 and 100 million feral cats live in the
United States, and that fi gure could be even higher
today. The animal rights organization PETA notes
that contagious diseases such as herpes viral conjunctivitis,
feline AIDS, leukemia, and infectious
peritonitis are common in feral cats. Indoor and
outdoor cats who catch these diseases could suffer
serious consequences, including death.
Infection with parasites is another potential outcome
for indoor cats allowed outdoors. Though
American Humane notes parasites are not usually
life-threatening for cats, they can cause a multitude
of symptoms, including scratching, skin infections,
vomiting, and diarrhea. Fleas, ticks, ear mites, gastrointestinal
worms, and ringworm, which can be
passed on to people in certain situations, are just
some of the parasites cats can pick up if allowed
Safety is another factor cat owners must consider as
they ponder whether or not to let their cats outside.
American Human disputes the notion that cats have
an innate instinct to avoid busy streets. Reliable
estimates regarding how many cats are struck and
killed by cars each year are hard to come by, but
it bears noting that cats’ small stature makes them
hard for motorists to see, which could make them
more vulnerable to being hit by cars than dogs.
Vehicles are not the only outdoor safety threat to
cats. Loose dogs and wild animals, including raccoons
and foxes, may hunt cats allowed outdoors.
Cats also could ingest toxins such as antifreeze,
which has a pleasant taste but could prove fatal for
cats. And though the image of fi refi ghters saving
cats from high perches in trees is common, trees
are a signifi cant threat to cat safety. Curious cats
may climb trees and then be afraid to come down or
struggle to come down safely, potentially leading to
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