I am a frequent reader of your newspaper and find it full of useful information. I do have a subject that I would like to see covered: the importance of keeping cats safely indoors.
I know this has been pointed out in a past issue: a December, 2006 article “Caring for Your Cat: The Top Ten Essentials”, #3 on the list was “Keep your cat indoors. Keeping your cat safely confined at all times is best for you, your pet, and your community.” However, I think this point is worthy of additional coverage.
A couple of years ago, I let my cat of nine years outside to do her Daily walk around the yard and she never came back. I had heard it was a good idea to keep cats indoors, but didn’t really think it was an issue where I live, because there is very little traffic, not too much wooded area, and I only let her out during daylight for brief periods of time. Several days after my cat went missing, I saw something in the back yard I had never seen before: a coyote. I could not believe it, as I had no idea that they even lived in the area.
After this happened, I asked around the neighborhood and found out that several other cats had gone missing in recent months. I decided to do some research, and I discovered that coyotes are thriving in the state, and their numbers have been increasing, especially in the last five years or so.
I contacted the CT Department of Environmental Protection and learned they have been receiving an increased number of calls about pets (cats, small dogs) being killed by coyotes. I also began to see a proliferation of articles about the rise in the coyote population (some examples: CT
Post, 9.25.06, “Coyotes on the prowl, as numbers rise, humans in little danger—but watch your pets”; Yankee Magazine, November 2005, “Suburban Snarl, What Happens When Coyotes Move Into Your Backyard”; Waterbury Republican-American, October 4, 2006, “Call of the Coyotes, Sightings on the Rise; Woman Bitten”).
I have also learned that fisher cats (weasels) are in CT, and their numbers are also on the rise since they were reintroduced into the state in 1989/1990. These animals may attack and kill small pets. There are also bobcats in the state, another fact I was not aware of.
My point is, I too used to think it was safe to let cats outdoors but now I know better. The Humane Society of the United States publishes a brochure “A Safe Cat is a Happy Cat” in which they urge cat owners to keep their pets indoors. Besides the threat from predators like “coyotes, foxes, and raccoons” safely confined cats avoid such hazards as “traffic, disease, poisons, and cruel people”. According to the National Humane Education Society, over five million pets are reported missing each year, as many as two million of them stolen.
I now know that there are still ways to let a cat enjoy the outdoors safely, such as on a leash or in some type of enclosed structure.
With the warm weather here, I’m sure many people will be letting their pets roam freely outdoors. I think many people may not be aware of the wildlife and other dangers that are out there, especially people who are new to the area.
Perhaps this information will save some pets. I cannot be certain about what happened to my cat, but had I known then what I know now I truly would have kept her indoors.
Thank you, Fred Schaub