Letters to the Editor

Plenty of evidence supports the call to keep cats indoors | Letter to the Editor

A recent letter to the editor questioning the accuracy of my statement that indoor cats live an average of three times longer than outdoor cats gives me the opportunity to continue this discussion, this time from my perspective as someone who loves cats and is a cat owner. There is a long list of reputable sources that back up my claim. (For a start, go to web4.audubon.org/bird/cat/www.tufts.edu/vet/behavior/feline.shtml and umaine.edu/publications/7148e/.)

Many of these, such as Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, give domestic outdoor cats an even shorter life span than I cited — an average of four years (next to an indoor average lifespan of 14 years). Many of those sites also go into great detail about the dangers that outdoor cats face, such as getting hit by cars, contracting infectious diseases or being the victims of parasites, dog attacks and wild animal attacks.

In the 15 years that my cats Buddy and Simone have lived happily inside, I haven’t had to worry about any of those dangers. The last time I was at the vet, I was saddened to see so many beautiful and beloved cats on the “Lost Cat” board. And as for the diet of strictly indoor cats being inferior to those allowed to free roam, there are wonderful balanced cat foods available that don’t include the possibility of eating anti-freeze, which is how my neighbor’s cat died.

To call a domestic cat a “natural” predator is just plain wrong. Cats are indeed predators, but neither are they a native, indigenous species nor do they exist in numbers anywhere close to what the natural balance would be if they had to survive on their own. While I applaud endorsements of spay and neutering programs for reducing the number of cats out there, why not go one step farther and take better care of those cats by keeping them inside?

As for the impact of free roaming cats on birds, for now I would settle for outdoor cat owners keeping their cats in during those times when birds are most vulnerable to cat predation — at dawn and dusk.

 

— Sara Van Fleet

 

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