There's no place like home
For our feline friends, the outdoors can be anything but great. Regardless of the environment you live in, outdoor cats face more risks that can quickly hurt one, if not all of their nine lives. There are the visible threats of other predators, accidental (or intentional) harm by humans, but the greatest risk for outdoor cats is the spread and contraction of various diseases.
The dangers of the outdoors
The American Feral Cat Coalition estimates that there are approximately 60 million feral and homeless stray cats living in the US. Many of these cats may carry diseases that can be passed onto your cat if they come into contact. These diseases can be serious, even fatal, and include:
- feline leukemia (FeLV)
- Feline AIDS (FIV)
- FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
- feline distemper (panleukopenia)
- upper respiratory infections (URIs)
Perks of being a homebody
A cat who stays indoors, or has supervised outdoor time (either on harness and leash, or catio), has an extended lifespan: up to 15 years or more than their completely outdoor counterpart.
The original social distancers
American Humane cites diseases as the primary concern for outdoor cats, and while vaccines are available, the only sure way to prevent transmission is to prevent exposure to infected cats.
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is the most common viral killer of cats. It will weaken their immune system, increase susceptibility to other diseases, and is the most common cause of cancer in cats. The virus occurs in saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk from infected cats. It is spread cat-to-cat through bite wounds, infected mother to kittens, mutual grooming, and shared litter boxes or feeding dishes.
The best way to avoid this highly contagious disease is through prevention: vaccination and staying indoors.
[#BeginTLDR#]Keeping your cat indoors can help extend their life expectancy beyond the average 13-17 years[#SplitTLDR#]Outdoor cats live an average of 2-5 years because of the multiple threats they face[#SplitTLDR#]By staying indoors, cats can avoid contracting diseases from other cats[#EndTLDR#]