by Stephanie Newman
(Farmington Hills, MI, USA)
In this day and age where most of the population lives in busy urban centers, some people still think it’s safe to let their cats either live outdoors all the time or come and go as they please. Summer is upon us, and many of us must contend with plaintive mews at the door, “let me out, now!” Don’t give in so fast...
So many myths about cats continue, and one of them is the notion that cats should live outdoors, at least part of the time, if not all the time. Part of this myth is the idea that cats need to be outdoors to be happy. It’s a shame this myth continues in our modern era of cars, wide usage of various toxins, and the encroachment of wild animals such as coyotes into many urban and suburban areas. Even if our cats have collars, bells, and/or are micro-chipped, our furry friends can get fatal diseases, get infestations of fleas and worms, or fall into the hands or paws of those who may harm them.
What’s a loving pet parent to do?
There are many options to satisfy our dear friends for whom observing from the inside just isn’t enough. Many cats will take well to a harness and a leash and learn to walk about outside, exploring all the wonders of Mother Nature. There are also many kinds of enclosures that can stand alone in your yard or can be added to an enclosed patio that provide walkways and perches at different levels so your cat will feel like she is part of the action, but safe from many threats that outdoor exploration might bring.
It’s fun to carry a cat here and there, letting her sniff at will, guiding you where she wants to go. What are seen more and more these days are cats in strollers. Yes, people often stop and look, and you might find you’re suddenly popular with the neighborhood kids due to the novelty and the opportunity to visit some cute kitties enjoying the outdoors with them. There are many models available, and it’s great fun for everyone. Of course, there's the added benefit of giving pet parents some exercise.
Of course, before considering letting kitty outside, it’s a good idea to talk to a veterinarian who might recommend oral or transdermal medication to prevent various kinds of infestations and illnesses. Commonly used flea collars and drops are often toxic to cats, so use with caution.
Lastly, we ought not to forget our friends who fancy themselves little lawnmowers! It’s best to give kitty opportunities indoors instead of outdoors for their green fix. Greenery outside is very tempting, but can have pesticides and ingestion of blades of grass may irritate kitty’s throat causing not only vomiting, but also blood in the vomit.
Let’s let our dear ones out, but give them safe opportunities to enjoy all the fun that our warm weather can offer.
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