Don’t be fooled: Even though your cat has been domesticated, at his core, he is as wild as any of his wildcat cousins. If you asked your cat he might say that he’d be happy to divide his time between living on his own outside and living with you inside. No matter how badly you try, there is no way for you to provide as stimulating an environment as the outdoors. Letting your cat live outdoors, even part of the time, cuts down on maintenance (no litter!) but presents a whole host of other problems.
The two biggest reasons to keep your cat indoors are for disease prevention and a cat’s life span. Outdoor cats are at increased risk for rabies, feline leukemia, fleas and other diseases. With proper vaccinations and medications, you can prevent (or manage) these hazards. Outdoor cats frequently get into fights with other cats. These injuries (depending on the severity) can be easily managed and treated, but it will cost you money each time. Every time your cat gets into a fight, he must go to the vet to be checked out. If any bite becomes infected, you will have a major crisis on your hands.
The life span of an indoor cat ranges from 12 to 20 years. The life span of a feral cat is only 3 to 4 years! An outdoor cat is at increased risk of getting hit by a car and these injuries are usually always severe or worse, fatal.
There are numerous ways to let your indoor cat experience the outdoors without turning him loose on the neighborhood. You can train your cat to walk on a harness or leash. (Note that the younger your cat is when you start training him, the better and faster he’ll learn to accept it.) You can also build your cat an enclosed pen; this way your cat can experience all the outdoors has to offer but he cannot run off anywhere. If your backyard is fully fenced so your cat can’t get around to the side of your house or to the front yard, you can always let him out into his enclosed backyard. There’s always the option of letting him experience the outdoors from his carrier or crate.
So you’ve got yourself a puppy or you just want some new bling for your pooch, you head to the store to check out the collars and are amazed and overwhelmed by the choices. This was supposed to be simple! Let’s look at the options.
The traditional collar is a piece of sturdy fabric that fastens around the neck like a belt. Multiple holes or a buckle stamped in the collar make it a great choice for your puppy because you can adjust the size as your dog grows. These are also great because there’s space to put on your licensing, rabies and identification tags. There are a wide array of design options and styles and these types of collars are readily available, in any section of any store.
Choke/spike collars are used to control “unruly” animals. These collars are supposed to help owners with dogs that pull on their leash. The choke or spike collar is thought to provide a quick instance of pain that should make the dog stop pulling. Unfortunately, the dog may continue to pull. If used improperly, these collars can damage the dog’s neck and, in extreme cases, can cause a dog to have trouble breathing.
Bark collars are designed to stop a dog from barking. When the dog barks, something unpleasant (a small shock or a spray of citronella) happens. The dog associates barking with the unpleasantness and stops. It’s best not to simply rely on bark collars — and to train your dog not to bark in addition to using a bark collar.
You can thank those other pets for this next collar. Most popular with the cat set are breakaway collars. Cat owners like their pets to sport collars with identification details as well. Cats that are allowed outside, though, face a choking hazard by wearing a collar. Hence, the breakaway collar. If the collar gets caught on something, it breaks away from the neck and the cat continues on. Obviously the big drawback is you have to go out and replace it when kitty (or puppy) comes home collar-less.
Then are harnesses and there are many different types. Harnesses are designed to go under the front legs, across the chest and a leash attaches to the back between the shoulder blades. The two most common benefits are it decreases neck strain and eases breathing. Harnesses are a very popular choice for dogs after neck surgeries, slipped discs or for older pets suffering from arthritis. If you have a breed of dog that’s prone to breathing problems, you may want to consider using a harness instead of a collar.