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Cat Is a Happy Cat: And Your Cat Is Only
By Pat Ragan
Making the great indoors
meet all of a cat's needs is easy and fun. Simply
playing with an indoor cat keeps the animal stimulated
and exercised--and safe from the outside dangers of
injury and disease.
Most pet caregivers would not dream of letting their
dogs roam the neighborhood freely--the dangers are too
great. Yet many loving pet owners don't think twice
about letting their cats roam, believing it's
unnatural--even cruel--to keep cats cooped up in the
house. The truth is that millions of owned cats suffer
and die because they are allowed outside
To increase awareness about the threats to outside
cats, The HSUS has launched our new Safe Cats' campaign.
We need to convince pet caregivers that there is no
better place than home for their cats.
Some estimates put the average lifespan of a
free-roaming cat who gets marginal care at less than
three years, compared to 12-15 years for the indoor-only
cat. Even in "safe" suburban neighborhoods, cats can
face grave dangers and never return home.
Collisions with cars often kill free-roaming cats, as
do rabies and other diseases like feline leukemia and
feline immunodeficiency virus. The toxins in chemically
treated lawns, rat bait, and automotive antifreeze can
also cause serious harm or death to free-roaming cats.
And any animal shelter worker can attest that disturbed
children and adults have been known to torture outdoor
Free-roaming cats can pick up fleas--which can cause
anemia, skin irritations, and allergies in cats--and
ticks outside and then bring them home. And
uncontrolled, unsterilized cats contribute to the
homeless pet population.
Veterinarians often first see the consequences of
unsupervised outdoor cats. Because of the injury and
disease they treat in free-roaming cats--some so
extensive or advanced that the cat can never recover--two
out of three veterinarians recommend keeping cats
It's simple to keep cats safe while enriching their
lives. Going outside is not necessary for feline
happiness. It's easy to make a home meet all of a cat's
needs. Simply playing with an indoor cat can satisfy the
animal's stalking instinct and keep the cat stimulated
Wildlife also benefit when more cats are safely
confined. Free-roaming cats kill millions of wild
animals each year because of their instinct to hunt
prey, not because of hunger. Most prey are small mammals
like field mice and chipmunks, but about 25 percent are
birds--many of them song birds visiting neighborhood
Change is on the way for cats and they will be much
safer for it. Animal care and control agencies, humane
organizations, and concerned cat lovers are becoming
more active in reducing the free-roaming cat
populations. And local ordinances encouraging pet owners
to confine their cats are being enacted.
Our Safe Cats materials are available to animal
shelters, veterinarians, and HSUS members nationwide
to alert cat owners of the tragic
letting cats roam. For more information,
contact Stephanie Shain at 202-452-1100.
Pat Ragan is director of
The HSUS Safe Cats campaign.
conducted by Jacobs Jenner & Kent in June 2001 for
Generous support for the Safe
Cats campaign was provided by The Kenneth A. Scott
Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust, and the Frances V.R.