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Norwich Bulletin - 2/7/2011

Indoor? Outdoor?

It’s no secret that cats are fascinating animal companions. In fact, fabulous felines now outnumber dogs as the number one domestic pet. If properly socialized, they are loving, playful, independent, fun to be with and not slobbery! A cat has the ability to take away your stress as it curls up to your ear and purrs the night away.

Most people don't realize that cats are actually loyal. While a dog does things because their master commands them to, a cat does them because it wants to. So when your cat comes to you when you call, you can absolutely be sure that it wants to be with you and that is why it responded. I have cats that do agility, perform tricks and even fetch. Not because I am their master, but because I am their friend and they want to,

One of the best things about owning a cat is that they naturally use their litter box. By the time a kitten is four weeks old, it is usually litter trained. There is no getting up in the middle of the night to take the cat out. In fact, there is absolutely no reason to make your cat go outside at all. Outside can be a very dangerous and dark world for your kitty.

Chances are fairly high that your cat will eventually be killed by a car, eaten by a wild animal, killed by a dog, poisoned by a neighbor, or even stolen. I get an awful lot of calls about an eight or nine year cat who has “always stayed in the yard” and is now lost. Eventually all outside cats succumb to the dangers of the out of doors.

Outside also holds a myriad of diseases such as rabies, FIV or Feline Leukemia, which are all fatal and a danger to other cats and animals as well. Of course, rabies can affect humans! Then there are the lesser evils such as fleas, ear mites, fungus and parasites. And they can all get into your house and they are not easy to get rid of. It takes time and money to clear up your home once it is invaded by pests.

Now I do understand the feeling that people have that cats have that wild instinct to be free outside. That might be true to an extent, but one or two cats in a household can have plenty of stimulation to not feel the need to go outside. Quality cat furniture, toys, a fish tank, a beautiful bay window - all of these things provide hours of entertainment for your feline which compensates for their inability to roam freely outside.

Most cats will never miss what they don’t know. In fact, cats love the stability of knowing their space and their routine. Most housepets do not like that routine changed (there are show cats that are trained as kittens to enjoy traveling, but that is not really the norm).

If you are really set on your cats being able to go outside, there are many types of cat enclosures that allow your cat to enjoy the feel of grass and dirt upon its paws without any of the risks involved. We have a very large portion of our yard specially fenced in with a cat enclosure so our cats do get the excitement of being out of doors in safety, and we have friends that have much smaller enclosures that their two or three cats are perfectly content with.

The only downside for that is that you will need to use some type of flea and tick control, such as Frontline or Revolution. We have other friends who have trained their cat to walk on a leash and get exercise and stimulation with daily walks! So there are all sorts of ways to safely give your cat that outside experience if you feel it is important to your cat.

By keeping your cat at home you are doing your part in pet safety and good care. And of course, you need to provide a healthy environment for your indoor pet as well by making sure the litter box is clean, that there is always fresh water and food available. Cats should be spayed and neutered to insure good health as well as not adding to the pet overpopulation of the world. Whether indoor or outdoor your cats will be much happier if they are altered and not going through those hormonal times.

If you own cats, you know that "Cat people" tend to have a special bond with each other. Unless you have a cat to love, you cannot appreciate the unique relationship humans and felines have with each other. Many of my cats have special times and places in the house that belong to just myself and that cat.

Magic will sleep in my arms on my pillow – Dray will sleep at my head. One cat follows me in the bathroom no matter when I go because it is his special time with me. They all will ask for the attention they need, you just need to listen.

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