At Furry Friends we get a lot of questions on why we adopt out of kitties to indoor only homes. Many people feel guilty thinking they are depriving their cat the pleasures of being outdoors. Along with the freedom of being an outside cat comes may risks for your furry family member. We will discuss some of those below:
While your cat is outside it more than likely will come across other animals which can carry disease, some fatal. The most common ones are FIV, FeLV, FIP, FP, and URI’s. Not to mention fleas, worms, mites, and other parasites. So, what in the world do all these letters mean??
FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus affects up to 4.4% of cats and is spread by deep bite wounds. FIV attacks their immune system leaving them susceptible to all other viruses and bacteria. There are no vaccines and no cure for this disease.
FeLV – Feline Leukemia Virus is spread through infected saliva or nasal secretions. In the past this was a death sentence but now we are learning more about it cats can live a fairly normal life with the disease as long as they have proper care.
FIP – Feline Infectious Peritonitis – this is caused when a cat is infected with feline corona virus and the virus mutates infecting the white blood cells sending the virus throughout the body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs and FIP progresses rapidly. Currently there is no vaccine and no approved cure for this, although there is positive research out there suggesting there may be treatments available soon.
FP – Feline Panleukopenia – is a viral disease caused by the feline parvovirus. This virus is spread from infected urine, stool, and nasal secretions. This is a very contagious disease and without aggressive supportive care 90% of kittens/cats with this disease do not make it.
URI – Upper Respiratory Infection in cats is similar to a cold in humans. When proper supportive care is given it should resolve in one to three weeks.
Other risk factors for outside kitties are:
- Getting hit by cars
- Getting attacked/killed by wild animals (coyotes and raccoons can be in town in a neighborhood)
- Ingesting a toxin or poison from plants, rodent poisons, or antifreeze
- Getting stuck in a tree
- Encountering a person who is cruel to animals
- Someone taking you cat
- Your cat ending up at a shelter
- Cats becoming pregnant
There are many ways to keep your kitty happy and safe indoors! Lots of play time and interactive toys are a great way to stimulate your kitties hunting instincts and to get that wild energy out (Zoomies). Wand toys and laser pointers work well with this. There are also toys that they can use that you do not need to control for them. Scratching posts, climbing places, keeping your tv on a show they like, perches, and hiding places all will help entertain your cat when you cannot be their source of entertainment.
We strongly recommend building a catio so your cat can enjoy outside time while being supervised and protected from other animals. Many people are even harness training their kitties! The advantages of indoor only outweigh the disadvantages to not being outdoors.
Keep those kitties inside, vaccinated, and please spay & neuter your furry friends!
We would like to thank Jenn Hutchman for writing this article. She has been volunteering with Furry Friends since 2018. She has been an amazing contribution to our team. Jenn has fostered over 250 cats and kittens so far for Furry Friends, and not just the easy ones. She has fostered several bottle baby kittens that require feeding every two hours and has taken on some of the difficult medical cases. She also is our Executive Director and handles community outreach such as emails/voicemails and does the adoption and cat intake coordination as well as a number of other tasks including fundraising.