Indoor cats are safer, live longer | NevadaAppeal.com

Indoor cats are safer, live longer

When a cat is adopted from CAPS, the adopter must sign an agreement that the new furry friend must remain indoors. Some potential adopters are put off by that and don't adopt, but we have good reasons, some of which are discussed below.

We also understand that ranchers, farmers and others want free-roaming cats ("free-roamers") for rodent control, but they can adopt barn cats from FAWG (Fallon Animal Welfare Group at 775-423-8650), the city shelter, Nevada Humane Society or someone giving away kittens (but spay or neuter these new additions, please).

Indoor cats live an average of 17 years or more; for free-roamers, those years dwindle down to five. Free-roamers encounter a multitude of problems. Probably the biggest problem is being hit by a vehicle; if they're lucky, they die instantly. There are also predators, roaming dog packs and humans.

According to one website (earthcaretaker.com), more cats die annually from vehicular accidents than euthanization in the nation's animal shelters (and that number is staggering). City-dwelling cats learn to be more wary of cars/trucks and can often safely cross streets, but country cats may not be as aware of timing and distance as their city cousins.

Many of us think that cats can "see in the dark," but their vision is still limited, so most of these deaths occur at night when most people let their cats out. Free-roamers are also fair play for predators and roaming dog packs. Around here, predators include coyotes, owls and hawks, even mountain lions. Most are nocturnal hunters, so free-roamers have to dodge these dangers as well as traffic.

A roaming dog pack will surely kill a cat. (Roaming dog packs are a danger to everyone and everything and should be reported to local law authorities.) A single dog may have been bred or trained to attack cats, and instincts will kick in (please note that I'm not blaming the dog here).

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Many people, even those who like/love cats, have issues with free-roamers. Your neighbors do not want your cat to use their flowerbeds and gardens as litter boxes. Also not wanted is an intact male cat spraying, marking territory. Some people will call animal control to pick up the "stray" cat, but others may intentionally set out poison for your cat.

Now that spring has arrived, so have birds and their songs. I, for one, love not only cats but also melodious birdsong while I putter around the garden. However, cats are natural predators, and free-roamers have decimated songbird and other avian populations.

According to the American Bird Conservancy (abcbirds.org), "Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that every year in the United States alone, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds . . . and include both domestic cats that spend time outdoors and stray cats that live in the wild … ."

There are dozens of more reasons why your kitty should remain a true in-house cat — only a few are noted here. So, please keep Fluffy indoors and look forward to spending a long and healthy life together.

Switching gears completely here, be sure to stop by Flower Tree Nursery to buy raffle tickets ($1 each or six for $5) for a gorgeous floribunda crabapple tree valued at $81.99. All proceeds from this raffle benefit CAPS; we can't thank the new owner(s) enough for continuing this generosity. Tickets can also be purchased at the shelter during normal business hours (see next paragraph). The drawing will be held on May 1 at Flower Tree, and you don't have to be present to win.

Next, be sure to mark May 3 on your calendars for our annual Bark in the Park and 5K run/walk. Further information, as it becomes available, will be given at our website (www.capsnv.org), or you may also call the shelter (775-423-7500) during normal business hours (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

As a final note, CAPS is pleased to welcome Leona Quilia to the board of directors. We know that Leona (one of our dedicated dog walkers) will bring fresh ideas and insight when we propose and plan fundraising events.

This week's article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.

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