10 Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors

Although many cats enjoy being outside, it’s a myth that going outside is a requirement for feline happiness. Playing regularly with a cat easily satisfies her stalking instinct, keeps her stimulated, and provides the exercise she needs to stay healthy and happy.

Here are some tips for making the great indoors an interesting, feline-friendly environment that meets all of your cat’s needs.

Start young

Kittens who are kept indoors usually show no desire to venture outside when they grow up.

Fence me in

Provide a screened porch or other safe way for your cat to experience the outdoors. Consider building or purchasing a “cat fence” or similar enclosure. Such an enclosure can allow your cat to experience all the pleasures of the great outdoors without the risks. However, a fence may not prevent animals from entering your yard, so you should always be present when you allow your cat outside.

Be sure to cat-proof the yard by checking that the fence has no escape routes and by making toxic plants, garden chemicals, and other dangerous objects inaccessible.

Walk this way

If you live in a peaceful neighborhood in which you can walk without encountering loose dogs, consider buying a harness and training your cat to walk on a leash. This training takes time and patience, for both you and the cat, and it’s easiest when your cat is young. Some cats can even be trained to sit on your lap while you are on the deck or patio, or harnessed and tied to a stationary object to enjoy the outdoors while you are gardening nearby (but be sure to never leave your cat alone while she is tied to a stationary object).

Hang out

Install a perch indoors near a sunny window; padded perches can be purchased at many pet supply stores, through catalog retailers, or at our online store. Another option is an enclosure that sits in a window frame (much like an air conditioning unit) and provides a secure space in which your kitty can “hang out.” Larger options are available that attach to the side of a house or ground-floor apartment patio. It’s best to allow your cat access to these when someone is home to supervise.

Tree’s company

Buy a ready-made cat tree (often called a “kitty condo”), or make your own. A cat tree may stretch from floor to ceiling or be shorter. It provides great climbing opportunities and, in multi-cat households, creates more play and rest areas by taking advantage of vertical space. If you can, locate the cat tree next to a window so your cat can watch the action outdoors.

Play time

Play with your cat each day. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce, and kick. When you’ve tired out your cat, store toys that could harm him (such as toys with strings attached) out of reach. Leave out “toys” such as paper bags, with the handles removed, or cardboard boxes when you cannot supervise. Be sure to switch the toys from time to time so that they seem “new” and more interesting to your cat.

Bring the outdoors in

Plant cat grass (available from pet supply stores) in indoor pots so your feline can graze.

Clean house

Clean the litter box regularly. Here are some tips for preventing and solving litter box problems.

ID, please

Even cats who are protected from roaming free should still be outfitted with a collar and visible identification. The occasional open window (make sure your windows have secure screens) or door offers a tempting opportunity for your cat to explore the outdoors. And your cat may become frightened and make her way outside if strangers come to work on your house or if there is a fire or similar disaster. The collar and visible ID could help someone get your pet back to you.

Chip in for safety

For extra insurance, consider having your cat microchipped and keep your contact information with the registry up to date. If you do lose your cat, contact your local animal shelter immediately to file a report. Shelter workers can give you tips on getting your pet back home safely. Also read our tips for finding a lost pet.

Article found on The Humane Society of United States Website

Dealing with Older Cat Health Problems

cat playing

Article from https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_caring_for_older_cats_with_health_problems?

By Lorie Huston, DVM

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that a senior cat has needs that are different than those of a young cat. But how do you know when your cat is a senior?

Generally, cats over 7-10 years of age should be considered seniors. With increasing age, changes in the body occur as well. For instance, in one study, roughly 90% of cats over the age of 12 years were noted to have radiographic evidence of arthritis. Needless to say, with arthritis comes pain and mobility issues. If your older cat has become less active and is now reluctant to jump on counters and other areas that he used to frequent, it may be because your cat has developed arthritis.

Likewise, without the proper care, dental disease can pose a problem, particularly for older pets. You may be surprised to learn that veterinarians find evidence of dental disease in many pets as early as 2-3 years of age. If nothing is done to care for your cat’s mouth, by the time your cat is a senior, he may even have lost some teeth. Dental disease can be painful, causing your cat to have difficulty eating or even avoid his meals. This may result in weight loss and an unkempt hair coat.

Dental disease is certainly not the only disease that can lead to weight loss. Senior cats frequently suffer from kidney disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, heart disease and other conditions that may result in weight loss.

On the other hand, some senior cats may have the opposite problem. Some cats will become less active with age, essentially becoming couch potatoes, and will gain weight as a result. Obesity is a major health issue in cats of all ages, and senior cats are no different.

What can you do to help your senior cat? Here are some tips:

Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Your cat needs to be examined at least yearly if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent.  Remember it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!

Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Body condition is crucial to determining whether your senior cat is overweight, underweight, or at an ideal body weight. In fact, you should also ask your veterinarian to show you how to evaluate your cat’s body condition at home.

Feed your older cat a diet with adequate protein levels. Avoid vegan or vegetarian diets. Cats are obligate carnivores. They require nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid that are only found in animal sources. They also require a higher protein level than dogs, comparatively. Learn to read a pet food label and feed a diet that is appropriate for your cat’s age and lifestyle.

Feed your cat to remain at its ideal body weight. Overweight cats have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, skin disease, even cancer. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your cat. Your cat must be fed carefully to make sure all his nutrient needs are met. Some obese cats may require a specialized diet that is lower in calories but nutrient rich. Diets that are high in L-carnitine can be helpful in weight loss. The level of carbohydrates in cat food are controversial but a proper carbohydrate blend can help keep your cat feeling satiated.

Consider fortifying your senior cat’s diet with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. They have been shown to be useful for cats with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial for senior cats.

Consider a special diet if your older cat has heart or kidney disease. For example, diets lower in sodium are sometimes advocated for cats with heart disease, while diets which help control phosphorus, calcium and other electrolyte levels are given to cats with kidney disease. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best food for your cat based on your cat’s individual situation.

Ask about special diets for cats with hyperthyroidism. Diets with restricted iodine levels are now available as a potential management method for cats with hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland.) However, it is important that cats with normal thyroid function not consume these diets. If you have questions, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Take care of your cat’s mouth. Brushing your cat’s teeth may seem like a silly idea but it can help keep your cat’s mouth healthy. If you cannot brush, consider dental treats that help keep the teeth clean.

Environmental enrichment is important for cats of all ages and should not be abandoned for senior cats. Interactive toys, food puzzles (particularly for overweight cats), even supervised access to the outdoors through the use of “catios” or leash walking can help keep senior cats entertained as well as helping to burn excess calories and keep muscles and joints healthy.

Provide your older cat with special accommodations. For instance, cats with arthritis might benefit from litter boxes with lower sides for easier access into and out of the box. Providing soft bedding for your cat, either with a cat bed or with towels or blankets to rest on, can help your cat be more comfortable. Be sure that food and water are easily accessible. Don’t force your arthritic senior cat to go up and down stairs to eat, drink or use the litter box.

Article from https://www.care.com/pet-care-how-should-you-care-for-your-pet-during-the-holidays-p1017-q10527498.html

dog and cat laying down

It’s that time of year, again. The holiday music has started. The door-buster sales are buzzing. The family is gathering at Grandma’s — and you’re trying to figure out how to squeeze Fluffy into a carry-on.

Holiday traveling is stressful. Whether going on a plane, train or automobile, adding your pet as your passenger doesn’t make things any easier. The roads are busier, airports are crowded and flights are packed. Whether your family is opting to travel without your furry friend or plan to invite him to bon voyage, you need to be prepared. So if taking Fido to the family function or leaving him at home, here is everything you need to know – and prepare, for pet travel and at-home pet care, to make sure this season is hairball-free!

Leaving a Pet at Home
If your family decides the hustle and bustle of pet travel is too much around the holidays, there are other options that can give you peace of mind.

Place your pet in a kennel. Although this option can be expensive, kennels can provide excellent care. They take care of animals all year round, have the comforts of home a pet needs and some states have specific kennel laws. Research kennels online prior to dropping off your pet as there may be differences in prices and availability. Just be warned: they tend to book up fast around the holidays.

Hire a pet sitter. Pet sitters can be a great alternative to kennel care (and often a cheaper option). Most pet sitters will watch your pet at their residence but some can also come by your house if your pet is more comfortable at home. Typically, pet sitters will stay with your pet for a majority of the day or will check in on him frequently. An experienced pet sitter will watch your dog or cat, keep up on training, take your dog for walks and be a friendly, loving face while you are away.

Hire a dog walker. A dog walker coming by twice a day to take your dog on walks while your family is away is often the cheapest option. This could be the least expensive option if you are only going away for a short time, your pet is comfortable being alone, and he only needs a few breaks a day to run and play.

Pet Airline Travel
Before you go to the airport, make sure you and your pet are ready for travel. Check with the airline. It’s so important to know what is allowed and what isn’t so you aren’t surprised when you arrive.

Booking Your Tickets

  • Research restrictions. Some breeds are restricted and cannot be checked. Most of the restricted breeds are short-nosed dog breeds (such as the American Bulldog, Pug, King Charles spaniel, etc). Refer to your airline to make sure your pet is allowed to be checked. If the breed is restricted, you must carry-on your pet.
  • Book early. A limited number of animals are allowed on each flight so to ensure your pet is accommodated, book your reservation early.
  • Find your flight. Go online and look at the flights you wish take to your destination and decide what days you want to travel.
  • Call to book your pet. Pets cannot be booked online. Call the airline’s Reservations phone number and ask the agent to check for pet availability (checked or carry-on). If they have availability on the flight, book your flight online (it’s $25 for you to book your ticket over the phone so you save money by booking online) and then call them back to book your pet.
  • Budget for the fee. Pets will carry a fee associated with their travel. Ask the airline what their prices and policies are. (Note most pet fees are non-refundable so you want to be certain your pet is coming with you before you book his ticket.) Fees associated with pets can be $75-$125 for a carry-on pet and $175-$250 for a checked pet each way.

Carrying-on Your Pet

  • Know the rules. Carry-on pets are not allowed on transatlantic flights, pets cannot come out of their carrier, and only one animal is allowed per customer.
  • Check the fit. Make sure your carrier meets the requirements. You can find carrier dimensions guidelines on most airline websites which will let you know the maximum size of cabin pet carriers. Some airlines may allow carriers 19″ long x 13″ wide x 9″ high while others may allow a maximum of 17″ long x 12.5″ wide x 8.5″ high so research ahead of time. There may also be restrictions on the type of carrier you can use (leak proof bottom, etc). Click on your airline’s Pet Policy guide below to see what the maximum size and other restrictions are.
  • Travel light. Your pet carrier will count as your one personal carry-on item. Use a pet carrier with side pockets. Store all necessary items in the side pockets and check all other baggage.

Checking Your Pets

  • Go inside. Pets must be checked at the ticket counter. Pets cannot be checked with curbside services or at the Self-Service kiosks.

What to Bring

  • Required vaccinations and documentation for each destination you are flying to (only if you are flying internationally)
  • Pet’s license and identification tags
  • Favorite toys-to give him a sense of home!
  • Blanket/comfortable bed (Some airlines, like JetBlue, carry great Pet Travel Kits available for purchase.)
  • Leash
  • Things your pet will need in the travel destination
  • Snacks and treats
  • Puppy pads (just in case)

More Tips and Links

Exercise helps. Tire your pet out before you take off! Take your dog on a longer walk than usual. Play fetch. Make your cat chase a toy. After a long day of exercise, your pet will be able to sleep soundly and comfortably on the plane.

Arrive to the airport extra, extra early. Around the holidays, most experts suggest arriving 2 hours early to make sure you get to your gate on time. Add an extra hour (to be on the safe side) if you are traveling with a pet. Don’t forget let your pet take care of his business before you go through security, otherwise you will have to return through security again if nature calls him!

Regular wellness exams allow your veterinarian to evaluate your pet’s general health and become aware of any health problems before they become serious illnesses. Since your pet cannot vocalize his feelings, you must rely on regular physical examinations by a veterinarian and your at-home observations to assess your pet’s health. Your veterinarian may also wish to perform diagnostic tests, including blood tests and/or x-rays, to evaluate your pet’s health.

Routine blood testing, urinalysis (urine testing) and other tests are recommended for all pets in their “senior years.” Your veterinarian may recommend routine blood testing and urinalysis for younger pets to establish baseline values, which can be used for comparison as pets age.

How often does my pet need a wellness exam?

Every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to five to seven human years, so it is important that your pet receives a wellness exam at least every year, and more often when he enters his senior years. Many aspects of your pet’s health can change in a short amount of time, so make sure your pet does not miss even one exam!

Similar to people, pets need to visit the veterinarian more often as they get older in order to prevent and treat illnesses that come with age (visitSenior Pet Care for more information). AAHA recommends that healthy dogs and cats visit the veterinarian once a year for a complete exam and laboratory testing. Healthy senior dogs and cats should receive a wellness exam and lab testing every six months. Depending on your pet’s age and health, your veterinarian will suggest an appropriate physical examination schedule to help keep your pet in tip-top shape.

What can I expect during my pet’s wellness examination?

Your veterinarian will request a complete history of your pet’s health. Don’t forget to mention any unusual behavior that you have noticed in your pet, including:

  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Eating more than usual
  • Excessive drinking of water, panting, scratching or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain or weight loss

Your veterinarian will also want to know about your pet’s daily behavior, including his diet, how much water he drinks and his exercise routine. Your veterinarian may ask:

  • Does your pet have trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Does your pet show signs of weakness or unbalance?
  • Does your pet show an unwillingness to exercise?

Depending on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle and age, and other factors, your veterinarian may also ask about your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. He or she will develop an individualized treatment and/or preventative plan to address these issues.

Vital Statistics

Usually at the beginning of the exam, your veterinarian, a veterinary technician or an assistant will take your pet’s temperature, pulse, respiration (breathing) rate and body weight. If your pet has lost weight since his last physical exam, he may be experiencing the early stages of metabolic disease, such as kidney disease or diabetes. If your pet has gained weight since his last exam, your veterinarian will work with you to develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan to return your pet to a healthier weight. Weight is an important consideration in your pet’s health — an extra two or three pounds could mean the difference between your pet being fit and healthy or obese.

Ears

Your veterinarian may ask if your pet has been shaking his head or scratching at his ears, and if you have noticed an odor coming from your pet’s ears. Your pet’s ear canals protect his inner ear, but can also become a home for parasites and other foreign objects. Your veterinarian will closely examine your pet’s ears to make sure they are healthy.

Eyes

Eye examinations often reveal many health issues, including anemia, infections, glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, jaundice, kidney problems and allergies, in addition to eye injuries and ulcers. Your veterinarian may examine your cat’s eyes to evaluate her past and present nutritional condition. Observation of the inner structures and outward appearances of the eyes will be included in an eye examination.

Mouth

Your veterinarian will inspect your pet’s gums, teeth, tongue and palate (roof of the mouth) for tartar buildup, dental abnormalities, fractures, loose teeth, tumors, infection and other problems. For example, similar to people, a lack of red or pink color in your pet’s gums or lining of his lips could signal anemia. Your veterinarian will discuss the importance of regular at-home and professional teeth cleaning to prevent periodontal disease, which can cause bad breath and tooth loss.

Heart and Lungs

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs for early signs of heart and respiratory disease.

Reproductive Organs

If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, your veterinarian may discuss with you the many health benefits of spaying/neutering beyond just birth control. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s reproductive system for swellings, discharges and breast lumps.

Skin

Your pet’s skin is his largest organ and a good gauge of his health. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s skin and hair for fleas, ticks, other external parasites, tumors and wounds, as well as signs of allergies, infection, warts and tumors.

From Head to Toe

Your veterinarian will feel your pet’s abdomen for abnormalities, including enlarged organs, masses or painful areas, to detect problems with the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver and other organs. Your veterinarian will also examine your pet’s legs and feet and the condition of your pet’s joints, muscles, lymph nodes and nose.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to diagnose or verify a health problem if he finds any abnormalities during your pet’s examination.

Vaccination

Vaccinations are one of the most important preventive measure you can take for the health of your pet. Dogs can be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus, Bordetella, rabies, and Lyme disease. Cats can be immunized against feline panleukopenia (distemper), rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia, feline leukemia, and FIP.

How frequently you should have your pet vaccinated against certain diseases depends on many factors, so talk to your veterinarian to understand what is recommended for your pet’s unique environment and lifestyle. Visit the Healthypet article Vaccinations for more information.

Do not underestimate the importance of taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness examinations. These regular examinations will help your pet live a longer and healthier life, so do your part to care for your furry friend!

Article pulled from https://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Wellness_Exams

If your cat gets lost, an identification tag can help bring him home

Whether it’s an engraved sterling silver disk from a fancy boutique or a make-it-yourself aluminum circle from a pet store, your cat’s ID tag is more than feline jewelry. It’s a vital safety net for keeping you and your companion together.

Cat CollarTag; you’re it!

For their health and safety and your peace of mind, all pet cats should be kept indoors. But accidents can happen. A door or window inadvertently left open can tempt your feline friend to slip outside. That’s why all cats should wear collars and tags.

An ID tag is your cat’s ticket home. If you’re lucky, a neighbor will find him and return him to you right away. But your pet could be picked up by a stranger or an animal control officer and taken to a shelter. Without an ID tag, he could be mistaken for a homeless stray. A tag tells the staff that your cat has an owner who loves him and wants him back.

ID info

Your cat’s ID tag should have your name, address, and a telephone number where you’re easily reached. Including a second telephone number or the number of a friend or relative is also a good idea.

You should check your pet’s ID tag regularly to make sure it’s still readable—a heavily scratched or broken tag won’t do any good. And, of course, if your contact information changes, you should update the tag immediately.

An ID tag is even more important if you and your cat are traveling or moving. Pets have been known to get loose on airport tarmacs or at roadside rest stops, and you’ll have a much better chance of recovering your pet if he has an ID. Make sure his tag bears your cell phone number or the number of someone who can contact you or take responsibility for your pet if you’re out of reach.

Types of tags

There are tags to suit every owner’s taste. The easiest way to get a tag is to make it yourself at a local pet store. Many pet supply stores have engraving machines that let you choose the size, shape, and color of the tag as well as the contact information that you want engraved on it. This typically costs about $6, and the tags are finished in a couple of minutes.

You can also find mail-order tag forms at most veterinary clinics and animal shelters. Tags come in all sorts of shapes (circles, squares, houses, bones, etc.) and colors. Some even glow in the dark. You can also go the boutique route and order a tag from high-end stores.

Of course, an ID tag’s function is more important than how it looks. Still, you shouldn’t try to save a little money by improvising—duct tape and magic marker don’t last.

Even if your cat is microchipped, it’s still good to have a collar with tags.

Collared

There’s an astounding variety of cat collars on the market: “diamond” studded for your rhinestone cowcat, faux leopard spots for your mini-cheetah, embroidered, printed, painted, buckled, and more.

But color and design shouldn’t be your first considerations when choosing a collar. Safety is the most important feature.

Breakaway

A breakaway collar features a fastener that automatically releases when it’s pulled. Since these fasteners don’t click into a locked position, they allow your cat to slip free if the collar gets snagged on window blinds, furniture, or fencing. A regular collar, in these situations, could strangle your cat.

Other breakaway collars feature a short length of elastic fabric woven into the collar that expands when you tug it. This kind of collar will also release your cat if he gets caught on an object. The weight of his body, or pressure applied to the collar by tugging, stretches the elastic and lets him escape. You can find breakaway collars at most pet supply stores or online for about the same price as a regular collar.

It’s a good idea to keep a spare collar and tag on hand. If your cat loses his collar and tag, you can immediately outfit him with a replacement set. This is a cheap way of ensuring that your feline friend will spend his life where he belongs—with you!

Original Article: https://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/collars.html

Article from WebMD Pets. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-nail-clipping-care

Does your kitty disappear when the clippers come out? Do you have to wrap her in a towel to give her a manicure? According to our behavior experts, calm, enjoyable nail-trimming sessions are not only possible-that’s how they should always be! Check out the following tips for getting kitty to relax while you trim, turning nail-clipping sessions into enjoyable together time.

Setting the Mood

Ideally you should introduce your cat to nail clipping when she’s a kitten. Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can comfortably sit your cat on your lap. Get her when she’s relaxed and even sleepy, like in her groggy, after-meal state. Take care that she isn’t able to spy any birds, wild animals or action outside nearby windows-and make sure no other pets are around.

Make Friends with the Paw

Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than the count of three. If your cat pulls her paw away, don’t squeeze or pinch, just follow her gesture, keeping in gentle contact. When she’s still again, give her pad a little press so that the nail extends out, then release her paw and immediately give her a treat. Do this every other day on a different toe until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

Get Acquainted with the Clipper

Your cat should be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim her nails. Sit her on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If she sniffs the clippers, set a treat on top of them for her to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press her toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release her toe and quickly give her a treat.

Never Cut to the Quick

The pink part of a cat’s nail, called the quick, is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this sensitive area. Snip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting this area. If you do accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder or stick. It’s a good idea to keep it nearby while you trim.

Time to Clip

With your cat in your lap facing away from you, take one of her toes in your hand, massage and press the pad until the nail extends. Check to see how much of a trim her nails need and notice where the quick begins. Now trim only the sharp tip of one nail, release your cat’s toe and quickly give her a treat. If your cat didn’t notice, clip another nail, but don’t trim more than two claws in one sitting until your cat is comfortable. Be sure to reward her with a special treat afterward. Please note, you may want to do just one paw at a time for the first couple of sessions.

Clipping Schedule

A nail-trimming every ten days to two weeks is a nice routine to settle into. If your cat refuses to let you clip her claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help.

What NOT to Do

  • If your cat resists, don’t raise your voice or punish her.
  • Never attempt a clipping when your cat is agitated or you’re upset. And don’t rush-you may cut into the quick.
  • Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws at one time.
  • Do NOT declaw. This surgery involves amputating the end of a cat’s toes and is highly discouraged by the ASPCA. Instead, trim regularly, provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts and ask your veterinarian about soft plastic covers for your cat’s claws.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By , About.com Guide (original link: https://cats.about.com/od/indoorsvsoutdoors/tp/keepindoors.htm)

 

Many cat lovers are now savvy that indoor cats are safer cats, while others still think that cats deserve freedom to run in the great outdoors. When humans domesticated cats, we took on the responsibility for their health and welfare. Part of that responsibility is to keep cats safe and in good health. For those holdouts for letting cats roam free, consider these top reasons to keep cats indoors.

Several years ago, we almost lost our Bubba, who was an indoor-outdoor cat at the time. Why? Because we had no litter boxes in the house, and therefore, could not monitor his painful attempts to urinate. Today, that would be a red flag warning of a potential UTI or urinary tract blockage.

By the same token, observing a cat’s painful attempts to poop, or finding blood and/or mucous in the feces in the fact is a red flag for constipation, bowel blockage, or mega-colon.

An Indoor Cat Is Relatively Safe from Many Diseases

Cats allowed free access to the outdoors invariably come into contact with other cats. Even casual contact can transmit parasites and more serious diseases:

Mice your cat may eat or bring home can also cause a host of other dangerous diseases.Rarely mentioned, but equally serious, is the possibility of skin cancer from over-exposure to the sun. White and other light-colored cats can develop squamous cell carcinoma, a serious, painful disease.

Indoor Cats Do Not Get Hit by Cars

According to one source, more cats are killed by cars annually than are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. Even the most careful driver cannot avoid hitting a cat that runs across the street in front of a car. Even so-called “safe” country areas are no guarantee for cats. Country cats are not as car-savvy as their city brethren, and all it takes is one misjudgement of distance or speed.

Indoor Cats Are Safe From Predators and Dog Packs

Outdoor cats are below predators in the food chain, and they are sitting ducks for owls, raptors, coyotes, and native big cats. Dogs running in packs will consider a cat fair game; even one large dog can easily overpower and kill a cat. Remember that some dogs are also bred to attack; they are not really to blame when their instinct takes over. Even with a full set of fangs and claws, the cat rarely has a chance when caught outside, and declawed cats are even more at risk.

Indoor Cats Don’t Create Neighbor Problems

Even “well-bred” cats will venture into neighbors’ yards when allowed to roam free, and the resultant neighborhood discord has in some cases caused cat owners to move. People who don’t like cats will not tolerate cats using their gardens as litter boxes, and will sometimes resort to extreme measures to keep the cats out. At the very least, a neighbor may call the local animal control to pick up the “stray” cat.

Indoor Cats Rarely Get Abscesses From Fighting

Cats are very territorial and will defend their territory to the death, if challenged by another cat. At the very least, these territorial battles often result in abscessed wounds, which can be deadly if not treated in time. There’s also the chance, of course, of cats contracting FIV from deep bite wounds, as was the occasion with my Shannon. Shannon’s illness and subsequent death was the primary reason I changed my stance on the indoor-outdoor debate several years ago.

Indoor Cats Are Safe From Human Abuse

Freely-roaming cats are easy targets for gangs of youths with time on their hands, for cat-haters, who seek cats out for target practice, and for neighbors who would think nothing of killing a cat for trespassing on their property. Although animal protection laws are beefing up, prosecution will never bring a loved cat back to life. It’s a well known fact that serial killers often practice first with animals.

Indoor Cats Can Get Plenty of Exercise

Cats do get exercise, but they can get it safely with interactive toys, climbing towers, scratchings posts, and other indoor toys; all much safer than running from dogs or fighting with other cats. Remember also that there are safe compromises for the outdoor experience.

Indoor Cats Are not a Danger to Wildlife

Let’s face it; cats are predators, and left to their own devices outdoors, will eventually chase and kill birds, rabbits, and other small wildlife. Most of us would rather not see our cats cast in a killer role, and keeping them indoors will help protect wildlife to some degree.

Indoor Cats Don’t Get Lost

As outdoor cats widen their outdoor territories, they may become lost long enough to be “rescued” by other cat lovers, legitimate rescue groups, or picked up by animal control as strays. Statistics show that of “owned” cats turned in to shelters, only three percent are eventually relocated with their owners. Collars can break, and even microchips do not guarantee a cat will not be adopted and kept as an indoor cat by someone else. Why take the chance?

Indoor Cats Are Not Stolen

Bunchers are people who sell cats to laboratories for animal experimentation or research. Their prime source of cats is on the street. Even a cat sitting on his front lawn is fair game for a buncher. Other people pick up cats for use as “bait” for training fighting dogs. Both categories of cat-knappers are the lowest of the low, but they are out there.So beware. Remember that an indoor cat is always safer.