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By Paul Brucker
Are you a cat owner? America for the most part is a cat-loving nation. About 37% of U.S. households have a pet cat, for a grand total 96 million domesticated cats.
One big decision that faces each cat owner: Whether to maintain their four-legged friend as an indoor-only feline or to let it roam outside. This decision becomes more acute each spring, as homeowners go outside more often and many cats go on 24/7 alert to seize any opportunity to escape the house. One thing I can be sure of these days: Every time I open the back porch door, our cat Tallulah will be ready to pounce outside. And our other cat, Moxie, will be prepared to follow her lead.
Since cat litter was created and highly marketed in the mid-1940s, people have been keeping cats indoors year round. That’s better for a cat’s life expectancy. Indoor-only cats live, on average, 10 to 12 years, while outdoor-only cats are lucky to survive for two years.
Whether or not your cat is indoor-only and well-fed, it is an instinctive hunter. Most cats simply crave the chance to roam outside to chase insects and other animals, climb trees and bask in the open sunlight. The problem is that the great outdoors is not so great for the cats.
Once outside, your pet may encounter the company of feral and stray cats. That’s not surprising since there are about 670 million of them in the United States. Unfortunately, many carry diseases and unsavory parasites, such as fleas and ear mites. Also, 14% of them are infected with a highly contagious fatal disease called feline AIDs.
And while your cat may enjoy the adventure of hunting birds and squirrels, other creatures such as dogs, raccoons, coyotes or feline-hating people may be hunting your cat. Plus, there is the peril of your cat being run over by a car. Bottom line: the outside world is not cat friendly.
Cat owners who want to let their cat experience the outdoors should
Meanwhile, many cat owners have helped their indoor-only cats share some of the joys of nature. Here are some ideas: