March 11, 2016

The Street is No Place for a Cat: Part Three

Cats are safer indoors.

Since my blog, “The Streets are no Place for a Cat” in late January, there has been a lot of discussion of the issue by email, the media and social media. I am very happy that it is being discussed, as I would argue this issue is among the most important in animal welfare. 

I have been surprised at the vehemence with which some cat owners argue that their cats need to roam, especially those that acknowledge the inherent dangers. I fear for their cats and hope that they don’t suffer the fate of many of the free-roaming cats I see at the OHS. 

I have been touched my some of the stories that people have shared with me. I was particularly touched and saddened by B.H.’s story:

“I remember when I was just a little girl, my dad, not knowing better in those years, used to put my cat outside during the very cold winter nights but my mom’ s dog stayed in. At a very young age I would be crying myself to sleep thinking it was totally unfair and dangerous for all my cats.. .. I even had some children from my school who played tricks on me and grabbed one of my cats, while he was roaming outside somewhere and drowned my beautiful cat. They even took pleasure telling the next day what they have done. Needless to say, I came home in tears and my dad said to me it was just a cat and that I could get another one. I could never accept that kind of reasoning.. ..To this day I have terrible anxiety when it comes to the welfare of my cats.” 

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited onto the CBC afternoon show, Ontario Today to talk about keeping cats indoors. I was very gratified that all of the callers, to one degree or another, supported keeping cats indoors. 

Many callers had novel ways to compromise — ways to allow their cats some outdoor air and sunshine while keeping them safe. One caller described how a harness didn’t work, a leash worked even less, but landed on a screened cat porch in which his cats languished in homemade hammocks on his back deck. 

Several callers made a distinction between allowing a cat out in a rural areas, versus suburban, versus urban. One felt urban cats learned to be more street-savvy, another that rural and suburban areas were safer because of fewer cars. I commented, essentially, that while both callers could be right in some instances, all outdoor cats faced every danger I listed to one degree or another. 

I am glad that this topic has struck a chord and that people are talking about it. Keep talking; it may save a cat’s life.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director