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Why Your Cat Should Stay Indoors: Part II

Reviewed by Dr. Alexis Seguin, DVM, MS, DACVIM on Friday, April 3, 2015
Posted December 20, 2014 in Cat Checkups & Preventive Care

Cat walking indoors

Dr. Ruth MacPete discusses the controversial topic of whether or not cats should be let to roam around freely outdoors. For more from Dr. MacPete, find her on Facebook or at www.drruthpetvet.com!

Despite all the compelling reasons to keep your cat safely indoors, why do so many cat parents still let their feline friends outside?

1. Cats Were Once Wild Animals, Right? 
Many people feel cats should be allowed to go outdoors because of their wild origins. Even though cats have been domesticated for nearly 6000 years, they have maintained an obvious connection with their wild ancestors. Scientists believe that cats first became domesticated around 4000 BC in Africa and the Middle East. Most experts think that cats came into contact with humans after people transitioned from hunting and gathering to farming. Cats began to live near human settlements to hunt rodents from the grain storage bins. People quickly recognized the value of their hunting prowess and began to encourage cats to live with them by providing water, food, shelter and even safety from natural predators. The ancient Egyptians revered cats for their beauty as well as their rodent-killing ability. As time passed, cats assumed a new role and became cherished household pets. 

For thousands of years, most of the human population lived in rural settings. This was an ideal setting for cats because they were able to assume their new role as pets while providing pest control. They were also able to keep some of their wild habits as they roamed and hunted across large open territories. Following the Industrial Revolution, most of the human population moved into urban settings. As people moved into cities and suburbs, so did their feline friends. Some cats became exclusive household pets but many continued to be allowed to roam outdoors alone. The move from the farm to the city has exposed outdoor cats to new health hazards and unfamiliar urban dangers. As discussed in Part I, outdoor cats can get in fights, get exposed to deadly viruses, hit by cars, attacked by wild animals and can become poisoned. The fact is, times have changed and outdoor cats face a plethora of dangers they once did not.

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.