Devoted to More Wags and Purrs.

Money Saving Tip: Keep Your Cat Inside

 

With the still sputtering economy affecting many of us, people are often looking for ways to cut expenses. One excellent way to save money, as well giving your cat a longer, happier, healthier life, is to keep them indoors.

 

Florida is a land of settlers, with so many of us having moved here from other parts of the country. In more rural, northern areas of the United States, there are many barn cats that have long and comfortable lives. Pinellas county is definitely not rural, and our sub-tropical weather, instead of a northern climate, leads to many problems when we allow our feline friends to explore the great outdoors unsupervised.  While the dangers of cars, mean children and aggressive dogs can be avoided by keeping your cat in the backyard, there are many other dangers lurking.

 

Wildlife is a big problem for outside cats. We have poisonous snakes and spiders in abundance. There are also poisonous toads and lizards that cats often hunt, or plants they may munch, that are toxic to them if ingested. Unfortunately, our domesticated house cat does not “know better,” and will not hesitate to play with a blue tailed skink, which is reported to cause seizures, or a bufo toad, which can be deadly if even licked. Keeping your cat inside greatly decreases the risk of these poisonings, thereby avoiding expensive emergency treatments.

 

Bigger wildlife can be catastrophic for cats. Raccoons will attack cats competing for food bowls, and fighting with opossums can cause great injury as well. Roaming stray cats may cause both injury and spread disease; this is magnified by the fact that an intact male cat, which is by far the most likely to carry deadly contagious viruses such as Feline Leukemia Virus or F.I.V. (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), will travel several miles each day in search for food and mates. These long travels bring them across the backyards of many cats who are “homebodies”. Even if your cat does not wander, these diseases may come home to them. By keeping your cat inside, besides decreasing the risk of injury, it greatly reduces the number of vaccines that would otherwise be needed to protect your friend, saving you money every year.

 

One of the greatest wildlife threats to cats is the growing coyote populations. Coyotes are immigrants to Pinellas county from more northern parts on the U.S. They are many well established packs that now run through the parks, golf courses and suburban neighborhoods of our county. These creatures have killed hundreds of cats so far, and have been found in people’s fenced in backyards after easily jumping over a six foot privacy fence. Even more disturbing is that coyotes don’t actually feed on the cats they kill, but rather hunt them solely for sport. Luckily, they have yet to figure out how to open doors or windows, so keeping your kitty inside will make it much safer.

 

Outside cats are much more likely to pick up parasites as well, whether it is fleas and ticks, intestinal parasites from the soil, or heartworms spread by mosquitos. Heartworms are a known danger to the dogs of Pinellas county, but every year more and more cats catch the parasite after being bitten by a mosquito. Even worse, this parasite that literally tries to live inside the animal’s heart is untreatable in cats. Keeping them inside reduces, though does not eliminate, the risk of these parasites.

 

Are you looking to save some money and make your cat’s life longer and healthier? Keep them inside. Get them toys and objects they enjoy playing with, as well as “cat trees” for climbing and boxes for hiding. Their inside life can be happier, healthier for them, and much less expensive and troublesome for their owners.

  

Dr. Michael Rumore

Lake Seminole Animal Hospital