By Janet McAfee

Maybe you grew up on a farm or in a rural area where your pet cat was allowed to roam outside.  Today most cat rescue groups will require you to keep the cat you adopt from them indoors.  Some people still think that cats are happier if they have the “freedom” to live outside.

My neighbor’s cat was recently picked up and killed by an owl.  Today I received messages on about coyotes in two gated communities in central Palm Desert. Coyote sightings have increased as these animals expand their search for food sources.  Here are some of the reasons to keep your cat inside, as much as you might think he would enjoy a romp out in the sunshine.

  1. Outdoor cats are subject to predators

Coyotes are the primary threat to felines in the Coachella Valley.  They are frequently spotted inside our gated country clubs and other residential communities.  Coyotes can jump over fences and brick walls over 6 feet high.  Stray dogs can also kill a cat, particularly if they are running in packs.

  1. Risk of Injury or Disease

Thousands of cats are killed every year from cars.  Other hazards on our landscape such as barb wire fencing, rodent traps, and poisons can cause grave injury or death.  Cats like the sweet taste of anti-freeze, but it is extremely toxic and will result in death within hours.  Some feline diseases are transmitted from other stray cats.  Fleas, ticks and ringworm can be picked up while Felix strolls through the neighborhood.

  1. Fights with other Cats

Cats are territorial animals, and injuries from cat fights can run up some major veterinary bills.  Their territorial battles can result in abscessed wounds which can be deadly if untreated.

  1. Malicious Individuals

Sad to say, there are people in our community who are cruel and sadistic.  Sociopaths will capture stray animals, harm them, and sometimes kill them.

  1. Theft

Even if they don’t intend to harm your pet, thieves may decide to “adopt” your cat.  Neighbors wanting to teach you a lesson for letting your cat roam may decide to keep him.  Tracking them down and proving ownership may be difficult.  If your cat is a sought after breeds such as Siamese or Persian, thieves steal them to resell.  Worse yet, “bunchers” steal and sell cats to laboratories for animal experimentation or research.

  1. Run Aways

We hear incredible tales of cats that travel thousands of miles to return home.  But there are also stories of animals who wander off and are unable to return home for a variety of reasons.  Unneutered Tom cats will wander in search of females in heat.

  1. Public Shelters

Your friendly cat could be taken in by someone who thinks he’s a stray animal.  They might take him to a public shelter where tragically about 80% of the adult cats are euthanized.

  1. Songbird Conservation

Cats are predators, and it is an instinctual behavior for them to kill and eat birds and other small wildlife.  Your well-fed pet may deposit a dead bird as a present on your doorstep.

  1. Neighbor Relations

Some of your neighbors might not appreciate a cat defecating and roaming on their property.  Gardeners in particular are wary of animals who tromp through their greenery.

Avoid contact with Easter Lilies – Springtime is here and Easter is right around the corner.  However, those lovely Easter Lilies on your table or porch are extremely poisonous to your cat.

Ways to keep Kitty Happy Indoors – Cats are perfectly content to sit in the sunshine on a safe window ledge INSIDE your home.  You can provide exercise with a supply of toys, a carpet covered cat tree, and a cat scratching post.  You can purchase “cat grass” at any supermarket or pet specialty shop.  Get your cat a buddy…there is nothing more joyful than two cats at play.  Some dedicated cat lovers add a cattery with a “cat door” so Fluffy can enjoy both the indoors and outdoors safely.

Here’s the best reason to keep your cat indoors rather than outside.  The average life span of indoor cats is between twelve and nineteen years, while that of outdoor cats is about five years.  Isis, my wonderful British Blue cat, lived to the ripe old age of twenty-four years, happy to view the world outside from a sunny window ledge.