Indoor vs Outdoor Cats
A pet is a wonderful thing to have. Many people choose their pet based on where it lives in their household; indoor, outdoors or a combination of the two. One of the two most common domestic pets is a cat. The question, though, is whether it is better to have an indoor or outdoor cat. There are pros and cons for both sides of the question that directly affect the health of a cat. Indoor cats are known to have a longer lifespan than outdoor cats; on average, an indoor cat can live anywhere from twelve to twenty years while the average lifespan for an outdoor cat is a measly little five years. The two primary reasons outdoor cats have a shorter lifespan are traffic and disease.
Most households have easy access to a roads, the main access to vehicles and drivers that may not see the curious feline darting across the pavement. With the inherent curiosity of a feline, traffic is a huge danger. Cats are drawn to small, fast moving objects and do not instinctively know that the pavement of the nearby road can pose a danger in the form of fast moving vehicles whose drivers may not automatically be looking for the beloved pet of a nearby home. There are several other dangers for an outdoor cat. Many diseases and parasites can be found lurking in an outdoors environment that affects an animal’s health that people may not be aware of. The diseases are mostly immune deficiency diseases such as Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Rabies. Most diseases can be easily prevented with vaccines and immunization booster shots given by the veterinarian. While parasites such as fleas and ticks can be prevented by the use of over the counter, topical medications that have to be reapplied every month or by the use of collars and sprays infused with chemicals that keep the parasites away. There is heartworm prevention for cats now that also kills some parasites. All of these should be considered carefully with respect to the risk factors in your environment under the guidance of a respected veterinarian.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), is a serious disease. The FeLV virus is shed in many bodily fluids, including saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and blood. FeLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact, mutual grooming and through sharing litter boxes, food and water bowls.
Many owners do not even know their pet has this disease until it is too late. The cat’s immune system is being affected. Signs, if any include weight loss, loss of appetite, pale gums, fever, seizures, changes in behavior and many more. After infection, most cats only live three years. However, there are vaccines and boosters that can be given by your veterinarian that help to prevent this disease. Have any new cat tested for FelV you bring into your family.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), like the human version, HIV, is a serious immune system disease that inhibits the animal’s inborn immune system from preventing other diseases or protecting from infections. Like FeLV, FIV is spread from cat to cat contact, mostly through bites given by more aggressive cats. Unlike FeLV, the only preventative measure for this disease is to keep the animal away from other infected animals; in other words, keeping your FeLV negative cat indoors.
Rabies is a serious and deadly disease. Infected animals are normally wild or undomesticated animals such as raccoons, squirrels, bats or skunks, and spread the disease to other animals through bites. Rabies makes an animal aggressive, avoid light or water and dangerous to other animals and humans. Rabies is almost always fatal, but can be prevented by keeping your animal immunized and by keeping it indoors.
These three diseases (and others not mentioned in this article) are good reasons to keep a pet indoors, The best preventative measure for any disease is avoidance of infected animals; a good policy for suspected infected animals is to contact the local animal shelter or pound to help capture said animal so it will not endanger others or have to live through the pain and discomfort of a diseased life. Not all health problems exist only for the outdoor cat. There are some health concerns for the indoor cat as well. All of these problems can be easily prevented with attention to the animal and often do not require veterinary care as the outdoor cat would. Some of the most common health issues for indoor cats are: increased number of hairballs, overgrown claws, and intestinal issues caused by incorrect diet. Most indoor cat health issues can be prevented by grooming; the overgrown claws can be prevented by allowing a cat to sharpen their claws on a proper surface or by simple trimming the animals nails and cleaning the nail beds. Hairballs and other intestinal issues can be prevented by a proper diet, a grain free or raw diet is best for cats. A supplement of probiotics, goat milk kefir for example is a good source to help keep the intestinal track healthy and help prevent infection by boosting the cat’s immune system.
In summary the easiest way to prevent accidents or contracting disease is to keep it indoors. There are also ways to build enclosures to allow a cat to be “outside” while preventing it from having access to the dangers of the world at large. Many people feel the work needed to build a cat enclosure is either too expensive or two extensive. Unlike most pets that keep to the ground and only need a simple fence to keep them enclosed; cats require a full enclosure that provides screening on all sides, including the roof. These enclosures can be expensive and must be maintained to prevent animals from digging in or escaping. However, they allow a cat to experience the outside world, such as access to plants, scents and views of other animals they may not have access to indoors. There is a belief that a strictly indoor cat becomes bored or lazy with the same environment every day. The enclosure can help with this,
But indoor cats can have plenty of exercise through play and climbing.it is also suggested that cat toys be changed every other week just to keep the animal’s mind active and involved in their smaller environment. Playing with your cat with feather toys, balls, small noise making toys, giving them a tall cat trees to encourage climbing, cat wheels to encourage play and running ,all will keep your cat exercised and healthy indoors.
Currently there is no pet safe sunscreen on the market for cats, remember cats are fastidious groomers and will lick off the sunscreen. Many experts agree that coconut oil can give some protection, blocking approximately 20% of the sun's harmful UV rays.
(If ingested, it is harmless coconut oil actually has many health benefits).
The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, Inc. shares the following recipe for a homemade sunscreen for cats:
6 tbsp almond oil*
3 tbsp shea butter*
1 tsp beeswax
1 tsp soy-lecithin
2 tbsp aloe vera gel*
2 tbsp rose water
3-5 drops coconut oil*
Melt oils, butters and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat, only until melted. Add the soya-lethicin, stir until mixed. Remove from heat. Warm the aloe vera and rose water. While still warm, put the water mix over ice, drizzle in the oil mixture while stirring rapidly with a small whisk. Should cream quickly. Add coconut oil and mix well. Store in a clean, airtight jar.
Don Sphynx cats are best for someone that will make this cat an indoor pet and supervise any outdoor activity and exposure.