Ask the Vet Archive

Your chance to ask Dr. Mindy Cohan, VMD, our resident pet health expert, what's on your mind!

Topic: Indoor/Outdoor Cats

Question from Joanna in Middletown:
I have a six month old kitten named Sweetie. We got her from the Humane Society three months ago. She's perfect! Our problem is that she desperately wants to go outside.

We were hoping that our other cat, Cisti, would befriend her and show her around the neighborhood. However, Cisti is stubborn and refuses to be a big sister to Sweetie. How can I teach Cisti to be friends with Sweetie, or at least make Sweetie lose interest with the great outdoors?

Answer from Dr. Mindy Cohan:
There is no ideal way to turn Cisti into a neighborhood tour guide. Your options are to show Sweetie the area yourselves or to keep her inside. If Sweetie is showing keen interest in the great outdoors, you can take her out on a harness and allow her to become familiar with the area.

Although an outdoor cat typically maintains a healthier weight compared to an indoor cat, many dangers exist outside the home. Sweetie should not go outside if she has been declawed or if she has tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus or the feline leukemia virus. Outdoor cats are at risk for exposure to both of these deadly viruses. There is also great danger in being hit by motor vehicles and fights with cats, dogs or wild animals.

If you decide to keep Sweetie inside, have her wear a collar with a bell and identification tag attached. The noise she makes will alert you when she is near the door and you can be sure to keep her from darting outside. If she has not been spayed, a microchip can be placed at the time of surgery so that she can be traced to you if she should escape and become lost.

Outdoor cats tend to use up their "nine lives" more quickly than their indoor counterparts. If both cats are to venture outside, be sure they have ID tags or are microchipped, be sure their vaccines are up to date and keep them inside during severe weather conditions.

Posted January 3, 2007

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