Skip to content

    Healthy Pets

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    A Healthy Outdoor Cat

    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM

    Whether you've just adopted a grand old cat or a feisty kitten, you've got to decide if you want to keep your feline indoors or let her roam outdoors. Learning what it takes to keep your cat healthy and happy outside can help you choose.

    Hidden Dangers

    Recommended Related to Pets

    End of Life Care for Pets FAQ

    Coping with the impending loss of a pet is one of the most difficult experiences a pet parent will face. Whether your furry friend is approaching his golden years or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it’s important to calmly guide the end-of-life experience and minimize any discomfort or distress. As your pet’s health declines, you may elect to care for your pet at home-with the supervision of a veterinarian-or you may decide to end his suffering with euthanasia. Whatever course you...

    Read the End of Life Care for Pets FAQ article > >

    It's easy to imagine kitty lounging at your feet, soaking up the sun. Anticipating the dangers outdoor cats face may not be so easy:

    • Fights with other animals. You may not realize your kitty has wounds until he’s infected or needs surgery. Fights often require a trip to the vet for bite wounds, says veterinarian Vanessa Douglas, DVM.
    • Diseases. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to herpes, rabies, and heartworms. They're also at risk for fatal infections like feline leukemia.
    • Cars and other vehicles. Some studies estimate that cars strike as many as 5.4 million cats a year.
    • Parasites. These include fleas, ticks, and worms.
    • Poisons. These include antifreeze, bleach, fertilizers, herbicides, as well as insect and rodent bait.

    Prevent Hazards

    Before you and your feline friend head outside, plan for your cat’s safety, says Douglas.

    • Make an outdoor enclosure. These keep your cat safe and provide plenty of enjoyment. An enclosure can be small or large, and you can set it up to stand alone or attach to a house, balcony, or deck. The best enclosure for your cat depends on where you live, how much room you have, and how much you want to spend.
    • Collar your cat. Always put a collar on your cat and attach ID tags. This helps others know your pet has a home and makes it easy for them to contact you. Be sure kitty's collar has a "break away" feature, says Douglas. If your cat gets caught on a fence or branch, this type of collar snaps open.
    • Microchip your pet. This permanent form of identification ensures that someone who finds your kitty can quickly return her. A vet checks for the ID embedded in your cat’s neck and scans it for your address.
    • Keep vaccinations up-to-date. Discuss with your vet which vaccines are most helpful for your outdoor cat’s health and how often she needs them. Follow through to protect your cat from diseases and infections.
    • Medicate for fleas and ticks. All it takes is one flea to start your kitty biting and scratching, so apply flea medicine before taking your cat outdoors.

    Today on WebMD

    Puppy digging hole
    Are you putting your pet at risk?
    Cat looking at fish
    Things we can learn from our pets.
     
    dog and kitten
    27 ways pets help your health.
    tick
    Get the facts about prevention.
     
    Woman holding puppy
    Article
    Sad dog and guacamole
    Slideshow
     
    Siamese cat eating from bowl
    Slideshow
    cat on couch
    Evaluator
     
    Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
    Slideshow
    Kitten playing
    Quiz
     
    Orange cat nuzzling woman
    Slideshow
    German shephard reading a book
    Quiz