By Kathy Blumenstock, Animal Planet
A snoozing tabby, stretched out in the sun-dappled backyard, may appear to be an example of the good life, feline-style. Yet cats that spend time outdoors have lives filled with risks, from minor ones such as ticks to serious threats from cars or dogs.
You may believe cats living only indoors are deprived of a chance at freedom, and that they miss the call of the wild. But what cats that go outdoors are actually deprived of is the consistent safety and contentment of a comfortable life at home. In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that cats who are allowed outdoors live about one-quarter as long as cats that live indoors exclusively.
Do all cats long for outdoor life?
A catís hunting instincts, like those of his larger relatives in the wild, are inborn. Mother cats teach kittens to chase and catch prey. While cats who go outdoors will naturally stalk birds or rodents in the area, cats donít need to be outside killing neighborhood blue jays to satisfy their instincts. They can display their stalking instincts by racing around your home, chasing down imaginary prey, or treating a catnip mouse like a prized kill. Many toys permit cats to act out their hunting rituals without endangering either the cats or smaller animals.
Catsí mating drives are strong, and if an indoor-only cat is not spayed or neutered, the mating urge will prompt it to do anything to escape and find a mate. Cats that are allowed to go outside should always be spayed or neutered to prevent them from mating.