Month: September 2008

The Great Indoors

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Whether or not to keep your cat indoors is a decision you should make before you adopt a cat. A cat who has always lived indoors is much more content at staying inside versus one who has tasted freedom. Most shelters will require that you keep any cat you adopt from them indoors. The reasons for this are numerous.

Safety

Cats are safer indoors. Cats who are allowed to roam outside face dangers on many fronts.

Outdoor cats will often fight to protect their territory. A bite wound often leads to an absess, which is a pus filled pocket below the skin that will require veterinary care. Exposure to other cats who may or may not be vaccinated puts them at risk for many diseases including feline AIDS, distemper, and possibly rabies.

Outdoor cats are also in danger of being hit by a car. Some cats learn the skills to navigate the roadways, but many do not and are seriously injured or killed. Outdoor cats are also in danger from predators. Coyotes have become more daring in suburban and urban locales.

Cats themselves pose a threat to local wildlife, especially songbirds. Some rare songbirds are in danger of extinction from these graceful hunters.

Getting Lost

Cat shelters are full of cats who once had a home. Some were given up by people who could no longer care for them, but many more got lost and could not find their way back home. You often see signs posted, “Lost Cat – Reward” with a photo of a beloved cat who didn’t come home one night. Keeping your cat indoors will help prevent an avoidable loss.

Life Span

On average, an outdoor cat lives to be 4 years old. The average life span of an indoor cat is 14. To me, that is answer enough. I want to have as many years as possible with my furry friends.

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Choosing a Vet

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Wayne at the Vet

Part of the responsibility in owning a cat is ensuring its good health. Cats are quite good at hiding illness, which is likely a survival instinct. An ill animal is much more likely to get attacked out in the wild. Often any symptoms your cat may show will be subtle until something is acutely wrong.

This is one of the reasons why it is important to find a veterinarian you trust long before you need one. You don’t want to be frantically searching through the yellow pages looking for a veterinarian during a crisis.

What To Look For

  • Proximity
    If your cat does not travel well, you may want to find one close to home. This is not the most important criteria, but something to be considered. Try to lessen the stress on your cat.
  • Friendly Office
    It’s nice to find an office where both the staff and veterinarian not only care about the animals they care for but care about you. A smaller office may be more likely to remember you and your pets. The downside is they may not be open on the weekends or evenings.
  • Someone You Trust
    Take your cat in for a general check up. See how they treat you and your cat. Are they gentle with your cat even if he fusses? Do they push treatment options on you without explaining the necessity? Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
  • After Hours Treatment Options
    Cats always seem to get sick on the weekend or at night when the offices are closed. Does your veterinarian have after hours options, even if it’s a recommended emergency clinic they work closely with?
  • Affordability
    Veterinary care can add up quickly. Is your veterinarian conservative in treatment while still putting medical care first? Do they give you estimates and payment options if treatment is prohibitively expensive?

Conclusion

In general, trust your instincts. Get recommendations from fellow cat lovers and try a few veterinarians out. You will be happy that you have spent the time finding a partner in your cat’s health.