The age old debate by several mountain cat companions continues, do I let my mountain cat explore the great outdoors and risk becoming an appetizer; or do I keep my cat indoors, safely chasing any creature who ventures into their indoor domain and safe from outdoor risks? While some cats clearly have a burning desire to explore the great outdoors; others are completely satisfied with their indoor existence; thus, making your decision easier.
Outdoor threats are many, from infectious diseases like feline leukemia and immunodeficiency virus, to busy roads and car traffic, to being attacked by predators. The average life of indoor cats is about 14 years, while outdoor cats have a life expectancy of 4 years. There are approximately 84 million cats in the United States living as cherished pets; of which 40 to 70 percent are allowed outside.
Outdoor cats enjoy the mental stimulation of being outside and having the ability to engage with other creatures, especially birds. A new study on cats confirmed they are responsible for high bird death rates, with cats killing somewhere between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds a year! If you are a bird lover also, with local feeders, it is probably best to keep your beloved cat indoors. Of course, you can strategically place the feeder on the other side of the window where you cat likes to hang out!
If you decide your cat is to be indoor bound, they require mental stimulation and engagement. Sometimes it is best to have two cats or a dog and cat so they can keep each other company. Both are social creatures. Cat toys which move are the best to keep cats guessing and to ignite those predatory instincts of cat and mouse. As with dogs, food puzzles are great entertainment for hours. Food puzzles bounce and move as the cat launches the toy around the house trying to get the food treat dispensed. This is also entertainment for anyone watching.
There are DVD’s specially designed for cats that you play for them which show rodents running and/or fish swimming. I know several a cat that stops in its tracks when birds are on the TV or when other creatures of interest cross the screen. Your goal is to make your indoor cats’ environment as engaging and entertaining as possible to help reduce behavioral issues which may surface from being a bored indoor cat.
Of course, there are some who have an indoor cat who loves their halter and are taken outside on walks similar to a dog. While this obviously doesn’t provide the same outdoor mental stimulation, it does provide the cat who desires an outside romp the opportunity to safely do so. Whatever you do, do not tie your cat up outside and leave it. A friend told me a story where a woman moved to the mountain, and one day tied her cat up outside so it could get some fresh air only to find an empty rope an hour or so later. Obviously that person had not seen what happened to the goat in the Jurassic Park movie.
So as your happy cat is purring on your lap, know they are intelligent and fun creatures that require not only your loving companionship and cherish your relationship; but who also enjoy an environment designed to keep their brains sharp, engaged and entertained.
Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides mobile Canine Massage, PawQuatics, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available directly from her. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.