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Keeping Cats Indoors

Isn't Just For The Birds!

Each year, millions of cats are run over by cars, mauled by dogs, poisoned and lost. Hundreds of millions of birds and small mammals are killed annually by free-roaming cats. The suffering of both cats and birds is all the more tragic because it is so unnecessary.

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Today’s cat owners face an important decision: “Should I keep my cat indoors?” For your cat’s sake, and that of the birds and other wil dlife in your neighborhood, the answer to that question must be “yes!”

Keeping Cats Indoors is for the Cats...

The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is just two to five years, while an indoor cat may survive for 17 or more years. Cats who roam are constantly in danger...

...And for the Birds

Today, birds and other wildlife face more obstacles to their survival than ever before. Wildlife habitats are destroyed and degraded every day, and many species are declining as a result. Even the impacts of natural predators on their prey is changing based on how humans are altering natural environments. And the presence of an unnatural predator — the domestic cat — is having an impact as well.Scientists estimate that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and three times as many small mammals. Most birds killed by cats are members of relatively common species, like the Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco; others are rare and endangered — the California Least Tern, Piping Plover, Western Snowy Plover and California Gnatcatcher.

Regardless of the status of the species, each wild animal suffers when captured by a cat. By letting our cats outside, we — perhaps without intent — place a higher value on the freedom of our pet than on the life of that cardinal, that chickadee or that chipmunk she kills.

“Is it Nature’s Way for Cats to Kill Birds?”

A descendant of the wild cat of Africa and southwestern Asia, the domestic cat instinctively hunts and captures prey. However, wildlife in the Western Hemisphere did not evolve in the presence of a small, abundant predator like the domestic cat, and thus did not develop defenses against them. Cats were introduced in North America by European immigrants only a few hundred years ago.While cats may instinctively hunt wildlife, it is clear that they are not adapted to life in the wild as are our native wild cats like the bobcat and mountain lion. Outdoor domestic cat populations are most commonly found in and around human settlements; most do not survive without direct or indirect support by humans. They are in this way very different from native predators.

Truths about Cats and Birds

We all know that cats don’t have nine lives, but there are three other myths about cat predation we’d like to dispel.

Tips for Happy Indoor Cats

Kittens who are kept indoors usually show no desire to venture outside as cats. With knowledge, patience, and time, we can change most cats who roam outdoors into happy indoor pets. These tips will help:

Because indoor cats may slip out an open door, it’s important to keep in mind the other essentials of responsible pet ownership:

For the Sake of All Cats...

Support local cat control and protection plans;Support legislation requiring cat owners to register their cats and prevent them from roaming;Do not feed unowned or free-ranging cats without making a commitment to giving or finding them a permanent indoor home; andTake cats for whom you cannot care to your local animal shelter to give them the best possible chance of adoption into loving, lifelong homes.

More for the Birds

Support efforts in your community to protect wildlife and their habitats. All wild animals have three basic needs: food, water and plants that provide escape cover and nesting sites. If you feed birds in your yard, locate feeders away from windows and brushy vegetation that permits neighborhood cats to hide. Keep your feeders clean and well stocked. Where possible, establish a brush pile for wildlife away from feeders. Avoid using pesticides. Cats cannot be blamed for killing wildlife. It is the responsibility of cat owners to ensure that their cats are safely indoors.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), American Humane Association (AHA), and other groups are working with American Bird Conservancy (ABC) on “Cats Indoors! The Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats.” Through this campaign, we will educate and encourage cat owners to protect cats, birds and other wildlife by keeping cats indoors.

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