Monday, March 31, 2008

Cats: Should we let them roam our Concrete Jungles?

It's been long debated whether or not cats should be kept as exclusively indoor pets.  I know that some people feel that it's cruel to keep cats, notoriously nocturnal hunters, locked inside all day and all night instead of roaming free as nature intended.

On the other hand, some will point out that a cat can only function as it would in nature if it exists in its natural environment.  That is, in the wild, without traffic and the other hazards of civilization.

As a cat owner, can we really be confident that our pet is street savvy enough to avoid the many pitfalls of our city?  Is it worth taking the chance?  Vehicle traffic is the biggest danger, but let's not discount poisoning, dog attacks, cat fights, cat napping (it happens, especially for laboratory testing), infectious diseases, parasites, extreme weather and many other dangers.

Also, if a cat is de-clawed (another debate entirely) and/or intact, there are even more potential problems.

Although I don't have all the answers, I will say this: as a pet sitter, I walk the neighbourhoods of downtown Toronto all day long, and every single day I see countless posters taped to poles by distraught cat owners in the hopes of recovering their lost pet.  And every day I see cats run in front of cars, often avoiding the tires by a whisker.

I also see dead cats.

Many dogs are just as street smart as cats, and every bit as naturally wild, so why don't we let them roam free?

Knowing that we can exercise and stimulate our cats indoors (or outdoors, with a leash and harness as many do), while keeping them safe....why would we do otherwise?

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