America's Favorite Pets
They're playful and loving. Aloof and mysterious. And frisky and mischievous. They're also becoming the most frequent occupants of America's animal shelters, where millions of them are cared for each year.
They're cats' America's most popular pets, but also the pets most likely to die prematurely from diseases, poisons, attacks by other animals, abuse by humans, or speeding vehicles.
Cats are as deserving of our protection as dogs. But millions of cats suffer and die needlessly because they are allowed to roam.
Cats are the victims of outmoded perceptions that cast them as independent, natural explorers who prefer to be left to their own devices.
The Myth of the Outdoor Cat
The good news is that cats don't need to wander to lead fulfilling lives. Free-roaming cats get a dangerous tradeoff: freedom to roam in exchange for the vastly increased likelihood of a premature, painful death.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that the average lifespan of a free-roaming cat is about three years, compared to 12-18 years for the average indoor-only cat.
Safely confined cats avoid these hazards:
• Traffic • Diseases • Poisons • Other Animals • Cruel People •
Other Dangers Lurking Outdoors
Free-roaming cats inevitably pick up fleas and ticks and then bring these pests into the home.
Fewer than five percent of "found" cats taken in by animal shelters are reunited with their owners. That's why outfitting your cat with a collar and visible identification is an important step to keep your cat safe.
The Myth of the Indoor-Only Cat
Keeping cats safely confined is not new to many long-term cat lovers.
While most cats enjoy being outside where they can hunt prey and explore their surrounding, it's a myth that going outside is a prerequisite for feline happiness. Playing with an indoor cat easily satisfies the animal's stalking instinct and keeps the cat stimulated and healthy through exercise. In fact, the indoor cat who gets lots of attention and playtime is often happier than the indoor-outdoor cat who is generally ignored by human companions.
Cats don't have to be deprived of the great outdoors to stay safe. Cats can be trained to accept a harness and leash, and cat enclosures can allow them to experience all the pleasures of the great outdoors without all of the risks.
Keeping Communities Safe
Cats allowed to roam freely outside not only face potential harm but also have an unintended impact on our communities.
Today, cats who roam, particularly after dark, are likely to come into contact with nocturnal creatures, including raccoons and skunks, the primary vector species of rabies in the wild. As a result, cats are now the most common domestic vectors of rabies, with 278 cases reported in 1999 in the United States.
Free roaming cats kill millions of wild animals each year.
Cats are not a part of natural ecosystems, and their predation causes unnecessary suffering and death to wild animals. They also cause conflicts among neighbors, pitting gardeners and bird lovers against cat owners who allow their charges to roam.
Keep Your Cat Safe
Because of old perceptions concerning independence and predatory stalking, people have been slow to recognize that cats need and deserve the same kind of protection as dogs. Cats are healthier and happier when safely confined.