Tag Archives: advantages

Indoor Cats: The Advantages and Disadvantages

As a rescue fully commited to the safety of cats, we often have to turn down potential owners who would like an outdoor cat, but who live near a main road. Final year veterinary student Joanna Woodnutt talks us through why keeping a cat indoors isn’t cruel.

So first of all, do you think it is cruel to keep a cat indoors?

Definitely not. Cats were originally desert dwellers that would have had very small territories that contained everything they needed. Provided no rival cats deterred them from this space, they would have been quite happy with this territory and wouldn’t have roamed, preferring instead to defend what they had. Our domesticated cats today can be quite happy living indoors, provided their basic needs are met.

And what would you consider those basic needs to be?

Well, unfortunately for us, it depends on the cat. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 considers a pet to have five basic rights or ‘freedoms’. These include its need for a suitable environment, its need for a suitable diet, its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

All of these can be met in an indoor environment, provided the right adaptations are made. Normal behaviour patterns may, for some cats, include the need to hunt or climb- these cats should be provided with toys and climbing frames to allow them to exhibit this behavior. Others may prefer hidey holes and high places, and require provision for this too.

I do think there are some cats that can’t be kept indoors- some of those that have always had outdoor access would find this stressful- but many have no interest in going out provided their needs can be met indoors.

Are there any disadvantages, medically, to keeping cats indoors?

Unfortunately, there are a couple of diseases that have a higher prevalence in cats that are kept indoors. One of these is FLUTD, although diabetes and arthritis are also more likely in indoor animals. This is because indoor cats are more likely to be obese, which is a major cause of these problems- indeed, an overweight outdoor cat is more likely to get diabetes than a normal weight indoor cat.

And what are the advantages of keeping them in?

To me, the advantages of keeping cats in far outweigh any disadvantages. Cats kept indoors can’t get run over, and are far less likely to be exposed to poisons. They won’t roam and get lost, and cause you worry. They are far less likely to get in fights and end up at the vets with costly abscesses. They won’t bring you home ‘presents’ of the local wildlife. They are also much less likely to contract diseases from cat flu to FeLV.

Do you have any tips for keeping cats happy indoors?

As I said before, overweight cats are more prone to disease. Providing lots of toys and a climbing frame such as a cat tree allows cats to play and exercise, making it easier for them to remain fit. Making mealtimes more fun and active using treat balls can keep cats entertained. Remember that many cats, especially those that are older, like to sleep for a lot of the day- making sure they have a warm, comfortable place to do this is very important!

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Microchipping 101

This blog article was written by our tame vet student and blogger Joanna Woodnutt. Jo loves fostering for us and sits on our administrative board amongst her vet school duties. She has an interest in preventative feline care.

 

All cats and kittens from Lina’s Cat Rescue are fitted with a microchip. But there are a lot of myths about microchips that can lead to them being useless!

Myth 1: A microchip means your cat can be returned to you if it’s found.
FALSE. A microchip means your cat can be returned to you only if your data is up to date! If you’ve lost that phone or moved house it’ll be useless!

Myth 2: A microchip will help you to find a lost pet.
FALSE. It is not a GPS signal- it only helps if your pet is found and scanned. For this reason it’s a good idea to have them wear a collar saying that they’re chipped!

Myth 3: Only dogs, not cats, need to be microchipped.
FALSE. Although it is true that the new law only states that dogs must be microchipped, it is cats that are more likely to stray. They’re also less likely to tolerate collars, so the chip is an essential back-up!

Ok, so we’ve debunked some myths, but that raises more questions…

How does a microchip work?

A tiny chip,MICROCHIP about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the animal’s skin just between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique number which can be read using a handheld scanner.

This number is held on one of a couple of national databases, and they can correlate the number with the data they have on file for that chip- such as a phone number and address.

So why do we use them?

If your cat is found, any vet, police station or charity should be able to scan him and look up the number. They can then use the data the company holds to get hold of you and return your pet. A pet can’t lose a microchip like they lose a collar, so it’s a great way of finding out who they belong to.

Microchips are invaluble to us as vets. Just the other day somebody brought in a cat that they had found and we reuinted him with his owner within the day. It’s so lovely to see. But all too often we phone the number on the file and it’s not listed, and we contact the address and there are new people living there… it’s heartbreaking that a simple mistake means this cat won’t get to go home- Joanna Woodnutt, vet student

So please remember: A microchip is only as good as the data on it. If you move house, update the data. If you change phone numbers, update the data. If it’s been a year since you last looked, why not phone them up or log in online and just double-check that it’s all correct? One day, you might be very glad you did.

So how do I change my information?

Here are some companies that hold databases and can help you to change your information:

PetLog
PETrak
Anibase

You’ll need your microchip number, which will be on your cat’s paperwork and is 10 or 15 digits long. It may look like a barcode. If your cat has a passport, it may be in there, or it might be written into their vaccination card.

If you can’t find that, try calling your vets as they might have it on their records. Or, if you know where your pet was originally chipped, try calling that vets- they may still have the chip number in their database!

If all of that fails, don’t fret! Get in contact with the companies anyway and ask them to check the pet’s details. It will take a lot longer but they should be able to trace them for you!