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The Danger Of Letting Cats Roam Outdoors

House cats make peculiar, interesting and lovable companions. Cat owners often go to great lengths to make their furry feline friends feel good, and some may allow cats to roam outside. Though such a decision may be well-intentioned, it could lead to some troubling consequences.

The animal welfare organization American Humane notes that allowing indoor cats outside could jeopardize their health and safety in a number of ways.

Cats allowed to venture outside may encounter feral cats, which American Humane notes can be carriers of disease. A 2014 study published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health estimated that between 60 and 100 million feral cats live in the United States, and that figure could be even higher today. The animal rights organization PETA notes that contagious diseases such as herpes viral conjunctivitis, feline AIDS, leukemia, and infectious peritonitis are common in feral cats. Indoor and outdoor cats who catch these diseases could suffer serious consequences, including death.

Infection with parasites is another potential outcome for indoor cats allowed outdoors. Though American Humane notes parasites are not usually life-threatening for cats, they can cause a multitude of symptoms, including scratching, skin infections, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fleas, ticks, ear mites, gastrointestinal worms, and ringworm, which can be passed on to people in certain situations, are just some of the parasites cats can pick up if allowed outside.

Safety is another factor cat owners must consider as they ponder whether or not to let their cats outside. American Human disputes the notion that cats have an innate instinct to avoid busy streets. Reliable estimates regarding how many cats are struck and killed by cars each year are hard to come by, but it bears noting that cats’ small stature makes them hard for motorists to see, which could make them more vulnerable to being hit by cars than dogs.

Vehicles are not the only outdoor safety threat to cats. Loose dogs and wild animals, including raccoons and foxes, may hunt cats allowed outdoors. Cats also could ingest toxins such as antifreeze, which has a pleasant taste but could prove fatal for cats. And though the image of firefighters saving cats from high perches in trees is common, trees are a significant threat to cat safety. Curious cats may climb trees and then be afraid to come down or struggle to come down safely, potentially leading to severe injuries.

Though owners may allow cats outdoors as an act of kindness, such a decision could place these pets in serious jeopardy.

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