KEEPING CATS INDOORS - Living Longer & Better Lives
Deciding to keep your cats indoors can be a difficult choice, but it is one of the BEST choices you can make for your cats. Your cat may tell you the great outdoors is a lot of fun - grass to roll in, trees to climb. However, cats, like children, depend on us to recognize danger and protect them from harm.
In addition to grass and fresh air, the outdoors pose many risks to your cat. Lethal risks that can be completely avoided. For instance:
TRAFFIC: To listen to some people, a cat “being hit by a car" is just part of cat ownership. Your cat is not likely to agree....
POISON: Cat's don't usually resist the temptation of checking out neighbors' yards, the hoods of their cars, and their flower beds. Although it is illegal and inhumane, some people put out a poisonous substance to get rid of those paw prints all over their car. Poison also may be put out for other animals, and cats are accidentally poisoned, such as by eating poisoned mice.
CRUELTY: It is unfortunate, but too true that there are more than enough people in this world who are intentionally cruel to animals.
INJURIES: If your cat goes outside, it risks injurious or deadly fights with other animals, and also exposure to those animal's diseases. Bite wounds often abcess, resulting in a serious injury for your cat, and a hefty vet bill for you.
DISEASE: Even if your cat is vaccinated, it runs the risk of serious diseases: Leukemia - The vaccine for feline leukemia, although valuable, provides about 80% - 85% protection, leaving your cat still at some risk of contacting leukemia, a deadly disease transmitted basically by saliva, from another cat. FIV - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - FIV is a disease that compromises the immune system of the cat. There is no vaccine for FIV, and there is NO cure. FIV is generally transmitted between cats by biting. A blood test determines if the cat is FIV positive. Scientific evidence indicates FIV is not communicable to humans. There are a large number of stray cats who are FIV positive, and your cat runs a significant risk of FIV contact with these outdoor cats. For more information regarding FIV, contact your veterinarian.
With all the outside hazards, keeping your cat indoors is definitely the safest for your cat. Did you know that in fact the average indoor cat lives to be 10 years old but an outdoor cat only lives to be 2.
But being indoors all day can be boring for your pet. To combat this problem, set regularly scheduled play times. And when you are not at home, make sure there are some toys around to keep him occupied. You don't have to spend a fortune on store bought toys either - an empty brown paper bag laid on its side or a ping pong ball can provide hours of entertainment.
But let's face it, even though it can be dangerous, being outside is fun and exciting for your cat. But one way to let him safely go outside is by training him to walk with a harness and leash on. Harnesses are available through your local pet store and should be made of nylon or felt backed leather. Getting the proper fit is critical so make sure it's snug enough so your cat can't wiggle his way out.
Gradual introduction is best if you plan to teach your cat to walk with a harness. Start by leaving the harness in places where your cat can see it and get used to it's scent. After a couple of days of doing this, try putting the harness on for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, do this for several days. Once he becomes accustom to the feel of the harness the next step is to attach the leash and follow your cat around the house providing direction with GENTLE pulling. Don't yank or pull hard, this will only make him more reluctant to walk on a lead.
With consistency and patience you'll be walking around the neighborhood in no time. Just be sure to keep a look out for any dogs off-leash on your stroll. This is a dangerous situation so be alert!
Kitty trees or furniture are a lot of fun for indoor cats. More than one cat will also give your cat company and another playmate (besides you!). But be sure to think about your cat's personality... some enjoy living without other animals around.
What To Do And Where to Go To Find Your Lost Cat
Getting the word out early is the key. It is possible that the cat will not return on his own in a few hours so don’t wait around. As soon as you know your cat is missing, GET THE WORD OUT immediately. Look for photos that you may have of your cat and always ensure that your cat is wearing a collar with ID and micro-chipped.
Make plenty of posters with a brief description or breed. Keep it simple and easy to read for cars or people passing it. For example: LOST CAT (bold, large letters) Grey and white striped tabby cat with short hair. Include the following: cat’s name, it may make it easier for someone to call your cat over and capture him, and it also makes your cat into a valued member of your family, and not just another lost animal statistic. Offer a reward but don’t indicate how much in the ad, and include your telephone # or e-mail in a large font type at the bottom.
Make dozens of index cards with the same information and put them on every home, in every direction where your cat disappeared from. Put them on car windshields too. Stop and talk to passersby to let them know that your cat is lost. The more that is known about your cat being lost, the more likely the one person who sees him will call. Remember that your cats may be scared so please ask people to check their garages, garbage cans, sheds and backyards at night.
Place a “Lost ” ad in your local newspaper the very first morning your cat is gone. These ads are usually free.
GET THE WORD OUT! The more people that know the more likely you will get your cat returned. Get out and call for your cat by name. The best time to call for your cat is at night and at dawn. If you are driving around and calling from your car, drive very slow, roll down all your car windows, stop and turn your car off periodically to listen carefully.
Ask family and friends to help you look through the neighborhoods. You will never know which direction the cat may have gone so look everywhere.
Call all your neighbors personally.
Call all veterinary clinics, including emergency veterinary hospitals outside your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Call Pinellas County Animal Shelter and your local police or Sheriff’s Dept. Most of their websites have ability to post lost and found cats.
Inform your local shelters and go daily to see if your cat has turned up.
Use social media to help in your search -- Craig’s List; www.facebook.com/PinellasLostCats; post on your own Facebook page.
Whatever you do, DON’T give up! Cats can get out of the house and do things you would not predict. Try anything and everything to get him back and tell everyone. There are so many cat lovers and you will be surprised to see how much support you will get.
Even the most social and easy going cats can become very scared under the circumstances so he may hide from people, run away or even run from you. DO NOT chase after your cat. They are much faster that you are and he will get scared even more. Instead, sit on the ground; talk in your normal voice repeating your cat’s name and familiar phrases you use with your cat over and over again. Your frightened kitty will probably stick around and in no time come close and closer.
You can rent or purchase a trap and most rescues can loan you one to capture your cat should you have no success but this is quite rare.
Remember to be aggressive in your search for your beloved cat and DON’T GIVE UP! Get help from as many people as you can.
Remember those first hours of your cat missing are the most important in order to get him back.