City Cats – Dangers for Outdoor Kitties

by Rita Reimers

When I was just 19 years old, I was driving home from work on a very dark winter night in Buffalo, New York, when I saw something dart across the road. It was a rabbit, and I couldn’t stop in time on the icy road. I hit it, and I cried all the way home. I never forgot it, and to this day I always keep my eyes on the lower part of the road when I am driving, in case an animal darts across my path. I have stopped for many squirrels and, unfortunately, for way too many cats.

Just yesterday I was driving down a residential street in Beverly Hills on my way to a cat sit, when I saw movement at the side of the road just a few houses ahead of me on my left. Suddenly, there was a streak in the middle of the road as a beautiful young cat, maybe six months old, decided to cross the street. She saw me and stopped dead in her tracks. She was frozen like a deer caught in the headlights, and I felt her fear as she looked into my eyes through my windshield. Lucky for her, I was paying attention. I stopped and rolled down my window to asssure her that I wouldn’t hit her, and she continued to cross the street.

Cat lover that I am, I pulled over and got out of my car to make sure she was alright. This pretty little muted tortie greeted me, hoping up on a retaining wall to rub her face against my hand and thank me for not hurting her. Just then, an orange and white kitty came out from the bushes and jumped  up on the wall as well, purring his happiness at having a visitor stop to see him. I felt uneasy leaving them, but they acted as if they lived at this house so I didn’t want to take someone’s pet. A look at the collar of the orange kitty confirmed they were indeed in front of their home. Well, he was at least; my new tortie friend didn’t have a collar. I couldn’t resist saying out loud “You two need to stay out of the street now, and ask your momma to let you come inside!”

I see it all the time; kitties roaming around outside, some with collars and some without, who are obviously not the feral kind. While in the natural cats are outdoorsy type animals, those that live in the city and are domesticated have no place being outside where all sorts of dangers await. For example:

  • Your cat could be hit by a car
  • She could be taken by a well-meaning stranger, like me
  • A dog, raccoon, or other animal could attack them
  • People who don’t like animals could hurt them, or worse
  • She could be exposed to diseases like Rabies and Feline AIDS (FiV)
  • Fleas and Ticks, need I say more?
  • Animal Control could pick them up and take them to the pound

Did you know that indoor cats have an estimated lifespan of over 15 years, while their outdoor brethren can expect to live only 5?  If you have a cat in your family that you adore, please please consider keeping them inside. Although it might take some patience to get your cat used to remaining inside, the benefits to her health and longevity will be well worth the adjustment. She will purr her thanks and warm your bed for a very long time!

Rita September 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Michael, I appreciate your support very much!

Barbara – I know you must hear so many sad stories. At the rescue I volunteer with, if anyone even hints they might let their new cat go outside, the rescue won’t adopt to them… My Smokey kitty came to me from “the street” and he wants no part of going back out there! He is loved, well-fed, and happy right here by my side with his furry playmates 😉

Barbara Caplan-Bennett September 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Good call, Rita, and absolutely true! As someone who answers the phone for a rescue organization, I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve received from people whose cats have been killed by coyotes, hit by cars, or simply disappeared without explanation. Rita’s right. It does take patience to teach a cat to live strictly indoors once they are used to going outside, but it can be done. For those who adopt kittens — a cat who never goes outside in the first place will never miss it. You can hold my front door wide open and both my cats will stay put. They’re smart enough to know where the food is! 😉

Michael September 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Nice blog. Keep up the good work.





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