Why is it so difficult for people to understand that cats need to be kept indoors only???
* Injury from a fight with another cat (or other animal). A bite-wound abscess can cost a couple of hundred bucks to treat, not to mention that it's very painful to the cat.
* Diseases from other cats, such as Feline Leukemia, FIV (feline AIDS), distemper, rabies, toxoplasmosis.
* Injury or death by car, truck, motorcycle or other moving vehicle. Even a bicyclist can injure or kill a cat (and if the cyclist is injured in the accident, you may also be privileged to pay her large medical bills, not to mention replacing the bike!)
# Leaking antifreeze can also kill. A cat walking through a small spill of antifreeze and then licking its paws has ingested a fatal dose—usually within days, although I have seen it take months for a cat to actually die of the resulting kidney failure.
# Dog attacks. Sometimes cats with seemingly minor injuries will still die from the extreme fear they experience from the attack. Dog bite injuries can be painful and costly to treat. I had to do multiple surgeries on one cat who was severely bitten. Of course, dog attacks often have even grimmer consequences.
# Stolen to be used as "live bait" for training fighting dogs (common, especially if you live in or near a good-sized city); live cats are thrown into the pit or tied up and dangled above it to be ripped apart by the dogs, to "blood train" them.
A kitten with a fever of 107ºF and two shattered, infected hind legs and numerous puncture wounds. The kids apparently dragged her out of the dog's mouth, but didn't tell mom. The injured kitten did not receive veterinary care until it was almost too late.
A sexually abused 8-week old calico kitten.
A Birman kitten rescued by a street person from a group of kids who were repeatedly throwing him against a brick wall for fun. Numerous cats injured or killed by guns or arrows or, in one case, beaten to death with a golf club by a man walking his dog along a bike path. Why he was carrying a golf club in the first place was never explained.
Cats soaked in gasoline and set on fire.
A kitten set on a hot barbecue grill for laughs. Rescued by an outraged neighbor, she survived for a few agonizing hours before dying of massive burns.
A live adult cat tied into a black garbage bag and thrown into the Platte River, where a passerby noticed the bag moving and pulled it out.
Kittens thrown from moving cars. A client of mine behind one of these picked up the kitten and adopted her. Angel was one of the lucky ones. I've seen 2 dead kittens on the median of I-25 in Denver just this year, out of perhaps a dozen trips.
# Predators. Besides people, there are a lot of critters that can hurt or kill a cat. You may have several of these in your area:
# Broad-winged hawks (wingspan over 4 feet, dive speed over 100 mph)
# Owls – A friend of mine watched an owl strike and fly off with a large, screaming Maine coon cat in his talons.
# Eagles (cats are on the menu of Golden eagles, 4 of which were seen circling my town just last week)
# Coyotes—these resourceful relatives of our domestic dogs live virtually everywhere in the U.S., including Manhattan and downtown Los Angeles. One night, on major thoroughfare in Denver, I personally saw a very large coyote trotting down the middle of the street!
# Foxes—one of my feline patients was brought in with a clear set of puncture marks across her back and down both sides, in a perfect imprint of a fox's jaws. This particular fox was living in central Denver. A large cat might be able to escape a fox—or it might die trying.
# Skunks—the danger is not just from the unpleasant end! As members of the weasel family, skunks have vicious teeth and bad tempers.
# Other large predators -— in my little town west of Boulder, Colorado, there are bears and mountain lions that have been seen near the schoolyard or trotting down Main Street. More than a dozen domestic cats and two dogs have been taken by lions; in just the last week, two cats were snatched within sight of their owners.
# Traps and snares. Traps do not discriminate. Thousands of cats and dogs have lost limbs and lives to steel-jawed traps set for raccoons and other species. One of my neighbor's cats had what was left of its leg amputated just recently after being caught in a leghold trap. These traps are legal for control of "nuisance" animals—even in states like Colorado that have banned leghold traps. Few of these nuisance-control trappers are licensed or regulated. They do not care what they catch; if they find a cat or dog in their traps, they usually just kill it and dispose of the body.
you reclaim him (less than 5% of cats in shelters are ever re-united with their families)
he is destroyed (the fate of the vast majority of these cats)
if he is extremely lucky, adopted to a family who will keep him indoors!
Parasites—fleas, ticks, heartworm, roundworms, tapeworms—as well as the parasites of the parasites, like tapeworms that live in fleas, or West Nile virus and rickettsial diseases carried by mosquitoes.
Skin cancer—cats with white or light-colored fur around the face and ears are prone to cancer from exposure to direct sunlight.
Hanging/choking from a non-safety collar, or a malfunctioning safety collar.
Intentional poisoning. I grew up in a neighborhood where a vicious woman deliberately baited and poisoned cats for many, many years. In those days, all cats went outside; no one ever heard of an indoor cat. Our family lost several cats to poisoning over the years we lived there.
Exposure to weather (heatstroke, snow, ice, severe storms) and unable to find adequate shelter.
Undetected disease. Guardians cannot always carefully observe cats who spend a lot of time outside. Urinary tract problems are frequently missed because the cat so rarely uses an indoor litterbox. I've had clients find their male cats dead of a urinary blockage before they ever knew the cat was sick.
A lot of people let their cats out "supervised". That is, the guardian is actually out in the yard with the cat, or pretty close by, mostly, at least until the phone rings or the timer goes off or the kids scream or some other distraction occurs.
If you think your mere presence is sufficient to protect your cat, you're only fooling yourself. You're always within earshot? Great...you might be lucky enough to hear the squealing tires—and the thud. Here are a couple of other experiences from people, including me, who thought their cats were safe outdoors:
# One lady's cat was outside, on his harness attached to a clothesline. She went inside for just a couple of minutes. When she came back out, she found that the cat had tried to jumped over the fence, and was partially hanging from it. His feet were on the ground but he was slowly suffocating. The cat survived, but the trip to the emergency clinic was both terrifying and expensive,