Animal welfare associations and most veterinarians urge cat owners to keep their pets indoors, where they will live longer, safer lives. The statistics are sobering. More than 1 million outdoor cats are killed each year by dogs, traffic, poison and exposure to disease. The average indoor cat lives longer than 12 years, while the average outdoor cat survives for less than five years. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat consider trying to transition your cat to living solely indoors in order to allow him to live a longer, healthier life.
Injury or death by motor vehicles
Poison - intentional or accidental
Injury or death by fighting with other cats, dogs or other predators
Infectious diseases contracted from other cats (FIP,FIV,FeLV,URI)
Getting lost and/or getting picked up by animal control
Cars - Cats often crawl into warm car engines in cold weather and are killed or badly injured when the unsuspecting driver starts the car. Most outdoor cats die prematurely from auto accidents. It is a myth that cats are "streetwise" about cars. No matter how alert, a cat is no match for a fast moving vehicle.
Poisons - Poisons exist on chemically treated lawns, in bait left out to kill rats or mice, and in auto antifreeze—which has an appealing taste—that leaks from cars.
Other Animals - Other cats, dogs, and wild predators such as coyotes, raccoons, and foxes are potential enemies of cats and often engage in fights that leave cats injured or dead. Outdoor cats can suffer torn ears, cut eyes, abscesses, and other injuries requiring expensive veterinary treatment.
Diseases - Rabies and other diseases that can be transmitted to humans are a serious public health concern. And free-roaming cats are far more likely to come in contact with other animals who commonly carry rabies, like raccoons. In fact, cats are more than twice as likely to become infected with rabies as dogs. There are other serious diseases that affect only cats. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, as many as 15% of sick cats are infected with feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)—and many cats have both. These viruses are fatal and transmitted through direct contact with other cats.
Parasites - Outdoor cats suffer from fleas, ticks, ear mites, heartworm, and intestinal worms that indoor cats are not generally exposed to.
Cruel People - Shelter workers see cats who have been burned, poisoned, or otherwise tortured by children and disturbed adults.
Loss of Home - Fewer than 5% of "found" cats taken in by animal shelters are reunited with their families. That's why outfitting your cat with a collar and visible identification is one of the best steps you can take to keep your cat safe. In addition, having your cat microchipped provides a valuable backup ID system.
Becoming Lost or Trapped - Few cats reported missing are recovered by their owners. Some people who notice a cat in the area assume it can find its way home. Others assume the cat is abandoned and care for it without attempting to locate the owner. Cats may become inadvertently trapped for days as they explore a neighbor's shed or a dumpster.
Feline leukemia virus adversely affect the cat's body in many ways. It is the most common cause of cancer in cats, it may cause various blood disorders, and it may lead to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the cat's ability to protect itself against other infections. The same bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that may be found in the everyday environment, where they usually do not affect healthy animals, can cause severe illness in those with weakened immune systems. These secondary infections are responsible for many of the diseases associated with FeLV.
Cats persistently infected with FeLV serve as sources of infection. Virus is shed in very high quantities in saliva and nasal secretions, but also in urine, feces, and milk from infected cats. Cat-to-cat transfer of virus may occur from a bite wound, during mutual grooming, and (though rarely) through the shared use of litter boxes and feeding dishes. Transmission can also take place from an infected mother cat to her kittens, either before they are born or while they are nursing. FeLV doesn't survive long outside a cat's body—probably less than a few hours under normal household conditions.
The primary mode of transmission is through bite wounds. Casual, non-aggressive contact does not appear to be an efficient route of spreading FIV. As a result, cats in households with stable social structures where housemates do not fight are at little risk for acquiring FIV infections. On rare occasions infection is transmitted from an infected mother cat to her kittens, usually during passage through the birth canal or when the newborn kittens ingest infected milk. Sexual contact is not a major means of spreading FIV. Feline immunodeficiency virus causes a similar immune system deficiency as FeLV causing infected cats to become susceptible to bacterial, viral, protozoal and fungal infections that would otherwise not affect healthy animals.
We recommend yearly testing of indoor/outdoor cats for both FeLV and FIV. If your cat tests positive, it is very important to make your cat an indoor only cat to reduce the spread of these viruses to other cats.
If your indoor/outdoor cat has not recently had a physical examination, vaccines (Feline Distemper [FVRCP], Feline Leukemia Virus [FeLV], and Rabies), general deworming, or an FeLV/FIV test, please call 516-379-6200 to schedule an appointment today.