Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Internet Day Without Cats

Pigeon ready for his obedience training (the dogs get treats for it, why shouldn't he?)

Somebody somewhere tried to declare that for today the Internet should be cat-free. So I decided to write about why cats belong indoors and not out in your garden. I wrote these lists when I was working as a biologist in California, facts were collected from the US Department of Fish and Game, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), the ASPCA and the American Bird Conservancy. For more information (including tips on how to convert your outdoor cat into an indoor cat) please see

Top Ten Reasons Keeping Your Cat Indoors is Good for YOUR CAT

10. Free roaming cats are sometimes picked up and sold for biomedical research or dissection laboratories.

9. Outdoor cats may get caught in traps set for feral cats or "unwanted" wildlife. These traps may only be checked weekly or sometimes even abandoned, leaving your pet to starve to death.

8. Your neighbors might not appreciate your cat using their garden or child's sandbox as its litter box and might collect your cat and take it to a distant animal shelter. Cats are often turned over with incorrect information so the owner cannot be traced. Most adult cats that enter a shelter never leave.

7. Cats may be poisoned. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. They can catch and eat a mouse or rat that has eaten poisoned bait. They might lap up antifreeze; it has a pleasant taste to dogs and cats and results in high vet bills and sometimes fatality.

6. Cats do fall prey to other animals. Dogs, raccoons, other cats and coyotes will all fight with outdoor cats resulting in increased vet bills, permanent maiming or death.

5. Outdoor cats are exposed to many diseases carried by other cats; some of them are incurable and unpreventable. Some are transmissible to humans and can cause severe disease, miscarriage, birth defects in unborn children or even death.

4. Millions of cats are hit and killed by cars in the United States each year.

3. Free roaming cats can bring home parasites such as fleas (which can carry bubonic plague), ticks (which can carry Lyme disease), several types of worms and ear mites.

2. The life expectancy for a cat that is allowed outdoors, even part time, is 1/2 to 1/3 that of a cat kept strictly indoors.

1. For every person born in Los Angles there are 45 cats born. That is not a typo. Most of these kittens never find homes. Cats that are kept indoors have significantly fewer opportunities to add to the unwanted pet population.

Pigeon doing 'up' (he knows about half a dozen tricks)

Top Ten Reasons Keeping Your Cat Indoors is Good for WILDLIFE

10. Wildlife Rehabilitation facilities report between 25% and 50% of their intakes are cat caught animals.

9. Even with treatment only about 20% of cat caught birds survives. The remainder may die of internal injuries, hemorrhaging or bacterial infection.

8. Free roaming cats can spread diseases to wildlife. California Sea Otters have been getting the parasite Toxoplasma from cat feces being washed into the ocean. California Mountain Lions have contracted Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Peritonitis from domestic cats. The endangered Florida Panther and Bobcats have contracted Feline Immunodeficiency Virus from free roaming pet cats. All of these diseases are fatal.

7. Cats compete with native predators such as Great Horned Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Bobcats, Foxes and Barn Owls for the same prey animals. Domestic cats have the unfair advantage of medical care and regular meals.

6. Free roaming cats do not distinguish between common species and endangered species. Their predation is implicated in the decline of endangered species such as the Piping Plover, the California Gnatcatcher and the California Brown Pelican (nest predation). They are implicated in the extinction of over 40 bird species in New Zealand.

5. Cats with bells DO kill birds. Birds don't associate a ringing bell with predators. Many cats learn to stalk without the bell ringing.

4. Overpopulation. There are over 40 million pet cats that are allowed outside. It is estimated that there are between 60 and 100 million stray and feral cats in the United States. These population densities are higher than normal predator densities due to supplemental feeding and medical care. In some areas cat populations are so high that breeding adult birds are unable to raise enough offspring to offset the number removed by cat predation. Biologists are calling this an unsustainable situation.

3. Most outdoor cats kill over 100 animals each year. One well-fed cat was observed to kill over 1,600 animals in an 18 month period. Just because yours doesn't bring them home doesn't mean it doesn't kill them.

2. In the United States pet cats kill billions of small mammals including chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits. In the United States pet cats kill 100s of millions of birds each year.

1. Environmentalists, bird watchers and nature lovers are just starting to recognize this problem. In some places cats found roaming outdoors are already being rounded up for the good of wildlife and sent to shelters. Most animals in shelters, especially adult cats, do not find homes.

Katydid right where she should be

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