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Keeping Your Cat Indoors: 7 Good Reasons

You might wonder whether he's be happier outside, but by keeping your cat indoors, you're ensuring he lives a long, healthy, happy, and protected life.

Is It Cruel?

Keeping your cat indoors "is not cruel, in any way," says James Richards, DVM, director of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In fact, he says, "It's a risk to let them outside" for a number of reasons. By letting kitty out, you increase his risk of contracting transmissible infections, like feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and rabies. Richards says that bite wond infections (abcesses) are another reason to keep your cate homebound. Letting your cat roam also increases the chances he'll get lost, or be injured by passing cars, dogs, wildlife, or even cruel humans.

How To Entertain Indoor Cats.

Indoors, cats are "pretty good at amusing themselves," Richards says, although he recommends getting "interactive" toys - ones that you and your cat can play with together. For example, anything that has a bobbing toy on the end of a string of fishin line is a good choice. If your cat can "fetch" a wadded paper ball or toy, that is another stimulating activity you can engage in together.

To give your cate a breath of fresh air, Richards recommends installing a screened-in window box that will let him experience the outdoors in a limited way. If he's been a barn cat or has been living outdoors, it may take a while for him to get used to being inside. You'll need adequate scratching posts or boards for him to used, or your furniture may suffer.

If Your Cat Does Go Out.

The temptation to let him out might be overwhelming if you live in the country or the suburbs, or if you're lucky enought to live in a city and have an enclosed garden. You can "supervise" your kitty's outdoor forays by staying with him while he explores - but first, make sure he can't escape.

Be certain he's up to date with all his vaccinations. You'll also need to ensure your cat can be identified. The easiet method is to put a collar with ID tags on him. Make sure that the collar is a "breakaway:" it should break or stretch if it gets caught. Another identification method is the implantable microchip, which your veterinarian can insert using a needle. "Cats tolerate these well," Richards says, but, he points out, you need a special scanner to read them. Although many shelters have scanners, your local veterinarian probably doesn't have yet and your neighbors certainly won't. If your cat gets injured while outside and someone takes him to the veterinarian, its crucial that the veterinarian be able to contact you immediately.

When You Let Your Cat Out, Here Are The Dangers He Faces:

1. Injuries from fighting

2. Parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms.

3. Life-threatening infections by feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiancy virus.

4. Poisons: rodents bait, antifreeze from cars, and lawn chemicals.

5. Outdoor cats often get lost.

6. Moving cars and trucks.

7. Neighboorhood dogs and wildlife.