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Pet Friendly: The Secret Life of an Outdoor Cat

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Bozie is a slinky black cat who likes an adventurous lifestyle, including making friends with dogs and going for car rides. While mostly a house cat, his favourite part of the day is going outside to explore the world beyond his backyard. With his friendly disposition, his family just assumed he was meeting up with other local cats and perhaps enjoying the odd treat on the neighbour’s porch.

When Bozie presented in our clinic because his family found worms in his stool, our team identified the culprit as tapeworm. Tapeworm is spread when your cat consumes the tapeworm’s host, usually a flea or rodent. Since Bozie didn’t have fleas, there was only one other option: he must have contracted the parasite while chewing on an unfortunate backyard critter like a mouse or bunny.

The family was disappointed to discover their loving companion was a neighbourhood predator. This is true for most outdoor kitties. In fact, cats are such effective hunters that a few neighbourhood felines can have catastrophic effects on backyard ecosystems.

Keeping cats exclusively indoors is always best for the environment and protects our friends from dangerous cars, people and animals. However, be vigilant because indoor cats are at a higher risk of developing obesity (and, therefore, diabetes, joint disease and skin problems), dental issues, and stress-related diseases like idiopathic cystitis and over-grooming problems.

As with many things in life, balance is key. Cats can always benefit from more exercise and extra attention to their oral health. With some patience, most can actually be leash trained, allowing the

flexibility for a feline friend to enjoy the backyard under supervision. Another trendy compromise is the construction of a “catio” (that is, a “cat-patio”). These outdoor enclosures allow kitties to enjoy the sights and sounds of being outside while limiting their freedom to roam.

We discussed the pros and cons of living an indoor-outdoor life with Bozie’s family. Having identified himself as a killer, we made a plan to treat for tapeworm preventatively several times a year and his family agreed to give him less freedom with outdoor activities. Bozie is now on track to a healthier and safer lifestyle… and still got a taste of adventure on the car ride home.

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.


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