If you decide to keep your cat indoors, keep your cat content by committing to exercising your cat more. Itís the simplest way to add environmental enrichment to your catís routine. If you love your cat (yes, Iím trying to use guilt here!), exercise your cat for at least ten minutes, once a week. First, exercising your cat allows him or her to bond to you more (and hopefully, vice versa). Second, itís a great way to help your cat lose weight and stay trim and healthy. While the majority of cats I see are overweight and sedentary, itís not their fault ó itís because they lack exercise by their owner. Third, exercise is important because itís great mental and physical stimulation. Make sure your cat has plenty of cat-safe toys, catnip, cat grass, scratching posts, and laser pointers to chase.
For all you naysayers, donít get me wrong ó if I lived in the perfect environment (at the end of a cul-de-sac with minimal traffic, on a farm away from roads, etc.), Iíd consider letting my cat outdoors Ö so there are some situations where I think itís OK. However, most of my clients are from an urban environment, where cats and roads donít mix. If you have a fenced in yard, or can teach your cat to walk on a leash, I think supervised outdoor time is great ó provided youíre there to get them out of a bind if necessary (after all, curiosity killed the cat!).
Vaccinate Outdoor Cats
If you do let your cat outdoors, please consult your veterinarian about appropriate vaccine protocols. I normally donít recommend the FeLV or FIV vaccine, but thatís because the FeLV vaccine isnít 100 percent effective and has very rare but potentially severe side effects (like a cancer called fibrosarcoma at the site of injection). That said, if you allow your cat to go outdoors, the vaccine is a must (as it is for all the other cats in your household, regardless if they go out or not!).
Declawed Cats Don’t Belong Outside
Finally, if your cat is declawed, please donít let him go outside. While this seems like common sense to me (as itís a dog-eat-dog world out there, and sending a declawed cat outdoors is like sending him to war without a gun), Iíve seen lots of pet owners do it. Common sense may not be so common, as I often see bird feeders in the yard also. Want to keep your cat outdoors? You lose the right to use bird feeders!
Iím expecting lots of controversial comments here, as Iíve already gotten a lot of grief for my opinion, but please do share. What do you think?
Should I Keep My Cat Indoors? originally appeared on petMD.com