Call of the Wild

When I was a kid, it wasn’t an issue: Pets belonged outside. In our Overland Park neighborhood, dogs often roamed free and cats always did. Our own cats spent most of their days climbing trees, chasing birds, and sunning themselves on the sidewalk. They got plenty of exercise and stimulation. What could be better?

Well, for starters, the cats not only chased birds–they caught birds. (The American Bird Conservancy estimates that cats kill millions of birds every year, including endangered species.) One of our cats wandered into an open garage and ended up stuck inside for days when the owners went on vacation. Another tangled with a neighbor’s pet and limped home with a bad infection. And some were hit by cars.

The world of pets thirty years later is different and, we hope, better. Stricter leash laws keep our dogs–as well as the neighbors’ kids–safe. And fewer cats roam free. In fact, many animal shelters–Wayside Waifs included–prefer to adopt cats out to owners who pledge to keep their cats indoors.

The Humane Society of the United States claims that outdoor cats often don’t live to see age five. Between dangers from cars, disease,  animals, accidents, and human cruelty, outdoor cats face daunting odds. Indoor cats kept healthy and vaccinated can live well into their late teens or even hit age twenty.

If you’re thinking your indoor cat will scratch furniture, go stir-crazy, or get lonely, take measures to prevent those problems instead of relegating him to the outdoors. Indoor cats require training, stimulating toys, and most likely a pal to pass the time with. But they adapt well to the high life, and they’ll thank you for it daily. For more information on how to keep your indoor cat happy, log on to Wayside’s Article Library.

posted by Claire M. Caterer

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