While usually not life-threatening for cats, several common parasites can be picked up by your kitty when venturing outdoors, including:
These parasites can cause a variety of moderate to severe symptoms, such as scratching, skin infections, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, these creepy crawlies can hitch a ride into your home and infect your family. Parasites can be very difficult to eradicate from your pet, from humans and from your home.
If You Decide to Let Your Cat Outside:
Protect your kitty from other cats. Keep her on a leash or secured in a cage or other confined space where she can’t get out (and other cats can’t get in).
Make sure an adult supervises your kitty’s outdoor time to ensure strays cannot come into contact with her.
Take her to the veterinarian at least once every year for lifesaving vaccines, as well as parasite screening and treatment.
A major consideration for cat lovers thinking about letting their cat venture outdoors is safety. In addition to the risks posed by fellow cats, other potential hazards that can seriously threaten your cat’s well-being — and even her life – include:
Contrary to popular belief, cats do not have the innate instinct to avoid busy streets, and they frequently get hit by cars.
Roaming cats may be at risk for animal cruelty. Sadly, some people have been known to shoot cats with BB guns or arrows, while some cats end up being trapped, abused and killed in the name of “sport” or “for fun.”
Loose dogs and wild animals:
We may think of our feisty felines as good hunters who are capable of taking care of themselves with sharp teeth and claws. Unfortunately, cats may be good hunters, but they also often wind up being hunted. Cats are commonly attacked by loose dogs and wild animals, such as coyotes, raccoons, foxes and even alligators (depending on where they live). Injuries from wild animal and stray dog attacks are very serious and often fatal.
Toxins and poisons: Outside cats also face danger from coming into contact with toxins, such as antifreeze, that are often ingested because they have a pleasant taste. Cats may also end up accidentally exposed to rodent poisons when they hunt and eat rodents that have recently ingested poison bait.
Trees: Trees can be a source of some danger for cats who climb to a place where they are afraid or unable to climb down. In some cases, they may be up in a tree for days until they become so severely dehydrated and weak that they fall and suffer severe, serious or fatal injuries.
Killing birds and small animals:
A cat’s prey drive is so strong that even well-fed cats may naturally enjoy hunting birds or other small animals. Although the impact made by one cat might not seem like a big deal, it is important to think about the total impact of all the cats who are allowed outside. Loose cats are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, yet birds are believed to be only 20 percent of the wildlife stray cats kill. Birds are especially at risk around homes with feeders and birdbaths.
Never approach a dog you don’t know or a dog that is alone without its owner, especially if the dog is behind a fence, tied with a rope or chain, or in a parked car.
Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or guarding something. Dogs naturally guard their puppies, food, bones and toys.
Never chase or tease dogs. Don’t poke, hit, pull, or pinch a dog.
Always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog.
Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
If attacked, give the dog an object, such as a jacket or backpack to bite or chew on.
If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:
Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.