There’s a reason cats are Canada’s most popular pets: they’re just the best. They’re adorable, great snugglers, and best of all, they can look after themselves. However, some cat owners take this independence a little too far and let their cats roam freely — about 28 per cent or around 2.4 million of all owned cats in Canada have at least some time outdoors without supervision.
If your cat is one of these free-roaming pets, here are a few reasons you might want to think twice before letting Fluffy out for the evening:
1. Less time roaming means more time with you.
What’s the point of having a cat if you hardly ever see them? Cats can have just as much fun inside as they can outside, and it’s more fun for you too. Scratching posts and other interactive toys can help keep your cat entertained without having to go outside, and play is an essential part of bonding with your cat. Also, it’s hilarious — surely you’ve seen what happens when you introduce a cat to a laser pointer, but cats can make just about anything entertaining, from cardboard boxes to cucumbers.
2. You love your cat, your neighbors may not.
Sure, you think Fluffy’s 4:30 a.m. yowling routine is no biggie, but your neighbors might disagree. Having to clean their dumps off their lawn or discovering their geraniums ripped to shreds probably won’t impress them either. Not all cat behaviors are endearing, and having indoor or supervised outdoor cats reduces your chances of causing conflict with others. You may have agreed to deal with your cat’s nonsense when you adopted them, but your neighbors didn’t, and they shouldn’t have to.
3. Your cat is a threat to the environment…
While cats aren’t always the evil milk-guzzling assholes that Cinderella makes them out to be, one stereotype about cats is very true: they live for the hunt. Unfortunately, this can spell doom for local bird populations. Urban pet cats kill an estimated 17.8 to 59.1 million birds every year, and cats as a whole are the leading cause of bird deaths country-wide. These animals are important parts of their food chains, and the last thing the local ecosystem needs is your cat messing it up
4. …and the environment is a threat to your cat.
Roundworms and poison and cars, oh my! A suburban neighborhood to your cat is like the Amazon rainforest to a human: fun to explore, but full of things that could kill you. From UV rays that cause skin cancer, feral cats looking for a fight, to toxic chemicals like antifreeze, dangers to cat safety are present the moment they set paw outdoors. So unless you think a ten-pound cat can take on a minivan, keep them off the streets.
5. If they get lost, they may not come back.
Yes, cats can get lost. They may have a good sense of direction, but it’s definitely not as accurate as Google Maps. If Fluffy happens to wander off a little too far, they might not wander back. Collars can break, and a microchip doesn’t guarantee a reunion. 1 in 4 lost cats are never reunited with their owners for a number of reasons. Some are picked up by animal rescue organizations and adopted out if they lack ID. Others may simply find new homes on their own. But given how dangerous the world can be for cats, many of those permanently lost will likely end up dead. So don’t let out any cats you’re not willing to lose.