Does your cat love to explore the outdoors? Who wouldn’t? There are birds to catch, squirrels to chase and trees to climb. While the outdoors may hold many fun adventures for your cat, it also holds risks. Your veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ wants you to be aware of these potential dangers so you can protect the health of your pet:
- Feral cats: While your cat may be well cared for and healthy, the cats it encounters outside might not be. Millions of feral and homeless cats roam the U.S., and many carry diseases. They may pass these on to your cat if they come in contact. Some of these sicknesses can be fatal. The time spent with playmates might not be worth it.
- Other animals: Fellow felines are not the only potential animal threat to your cat’s health. Loose dogs, coyotes, foxes and raccoons also pose a danger to your pet. These animals often hunt cats and can inflict serious injury or deliver a fatal attack.
- Parasites: When your cat ventures outdoors, it may encounter fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms and ringworm. These parasites can cause infections, vomiting, diarrhea and scratching. They can also spread from your pet to your family, and are often very difficult to eradicate.
- Cars: Cats typically have good reflexes, and they rarely dart away to chase a car the way their canine counterparts might. However, vehicles are still a real danger to outdoor cats. Unfortunately, cats may stray onto busy streets, and are often hit by cars.
- Poisons: It is hard to predict what an outdoor cat will encounter. If they are roaming free, they can easily come in contact with toxic substances. Antifreeze, rodent poison or other chemicals are often within reach. Some of these substances have an agreeable taste, so your cat may eat rather than avoid them.
If you decide to keep your cat indoors, you can provide a stimulating environment that can keep them content without the added risk of the outdoors. Try the following:
- Interactive toys: Cats love new toys. They also tire of the same toys after a while. Rotate their toys so they have something “new” every few days. A hunting-style toy is a great way to provide your cat with an outlet for their prey instinct. Let them “hunt” for a few minutes each day. They will enjoy the activity—and you will likely be amused, too!
- Scratching post: Cats have a natural instinct to scratch. It is helpful to provide a place for them to practice this. Many cats prefer to scratch in more than one location or on a variety of surfaces, so it is a good idea to provide multiple places where they can scratch away. Hopefully they will choose one of these instead of your new furniture.
Due to the potential dangers of the outdoors, you may decide to keep your cat inside. Many owners feel guilty about this decision, as they worry about depriving their cat of sunshine and outdoor play. If you are unsure what is best for your cat, contact Newkirk Family Veterinarians, your veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, to discuss your situation and determine the best solution.