It seems only fair. After writing a Blog about Dogs and the Natural World, it is time to give equal treatment to cats…but with a twist. These words are meant to advocate for keeping cats indoors, for the benefit of both the cat and other living things.
“Cats Safe at Home” is a campaign that is worth a close look. The groups behind this work (Multnomah County and Washington County Animal Service and the Portland Audubon Society) hope to convince cat owners that keeping their cats indoors or — at least not permitting felines to roam freely outside — is safer for pets and the environment.
I have loved having a number of cats in my adult period of life. Ah, yes: Mittens, White Socks, and the one and only Cat Stevens, all added their unique brands of joy and companionship. Our cats that spent their days outdoors ultimately never came home, becoming feral or meeting their fate at the hands (well jaws) mostly likely from coyotes. My friend did his PhD. work on coyotes in Seattle and found that the wild dogs subsist mainly on apples and…cats!
The threat to birds from cats is not insignificant. More than 25 percent of bird species found in Oregon and Washington are experiencing significant long-term decline. While habitat loss is the primary threat to bird health, more than 40% of the 3,000 animals at the Audubon Wildlife Care Center in Portland suffer from cat-related injuries. Sadly, only 14 percent of those animals will survive.
Outdoor cats must be vaccinated against feline luekemia and be subjected to year-round flea and parasite control making it more costly to care for them. And there’s other outdoor cats inflicting bite wounds caused from fighting. I didn’t know until recently that felines also risk exposure to antifreeze, a toxin so potent that only a tiny amount can cause death by kidney faitlure.
What you can do: If you believe your cat needs to be outdoors, please think about (yes, this exists) a “Catio,” an enclosed space that allows cats to safely experience the outdoors. If you have a yard, you can also opt to screen in the entire area with free-standing cat fences or materials that can prevent cats from stray animals from entering.
Or, nicely on cue as my cat “Runty” (a 25 pound behemoth), jumps on my lap, you can have your cat stay indoors. ~