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Article 8: Outdoor Cats

Outdoor Cats Have Special Needs

Cats that spend some or all of their life outside the confines of a controlled home environment are

exposed to greater risks than their “indoor only” counterparts.  If you are the proud owner of an “outdoor only” or “indoor/outdoor” cat like I am you are probably already aware of most of these dangers from practical experience or trips to our office.


Some of these outdoor dangers include environmental toxins, fighting, mechanical injuries,

poisoning, lost, or trapped, along with the typical exposures to infectious diseases and parasites. My son has been doing his honors biology yearly project on parasites found exclusively in outdoor cats within the metropolitan area and the findings have been quite an

eye-opener. There have even been some potential human health exposure concerns in the analysis of these common parasites. I know first-hand the difficulty in keeping an outdoor loving cat indoors all the time so simply saying don’t  let them go out is not a viable solution. Here are some things to remember if you are unable to persuade your cat to be an “indoor only” cat.


The most common occurrence that I see in outdoor cats is an increase in exposure to both endo- and ectoparasites. In our clinic we normally ask you to submit one fecal sample as part of your pets annual wellness exam however with these outdoor cats we should be checking fecal

samples 2 to 4 times per year to check for roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. If tests come back positive for any of these pests then a course of deworming medications is in order. If your cat is also being bothered by the family of ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, or lice) then monthly topical treatment is in order. We offer a topical treatment that also has a heartworm preventive in the formula.


We cannot forget to cover your outdoor cat in a blanket of virus protection in the form of various

vaccines on an annual basis. The minimum virus protection that an outdoor cat should receive are the following: Rabies, Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia, Calicivirus, Feline Leukemia, and Feline Immunodeficiency. If your cat has not been previously checked or vaccinated for either Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency virus an in-office snap test is in order prior to vaccinating your cat. If they have already been exposed to these viruses vaccines will be ineffective in eliminating the specific virus. These two viruses are normally passed on during a fight with an already infected outdoor cat either from a bite wound or a scratch but in the case of FeLV it can be transmitted via a shared/community water bowl or litter box.


Finally, it is a great idea to get your outdoor cat microchipped. This is NOT a GPS for your cat.  The chip will not guide you to your lost outdoor cat. We don’t have that technology yet, but it will help if your outdoor cat is ever found by another party or animal control. The microchip

has a unique number that is only for your cat. The number is stored in several national pet databases and when your lost cat is scanned the number comes up and a lost cat alert can be sent out nationally. We receive numerous lost cat/dog alerts every day for the metropolitan area and if the cat owner happens to be one of our clients we are immediately notified and can then notify the owner that their cat has been found. The minimal cost for the chip implantation is well worth the piece-of-mind knowing your cat can be found if ever lost. Your outdoor cat should also be fitted with a break-away style cat collar with an identification tag and current rabies tag attached. Our clinic name and number is on each rabies tag and it too is a great way to return a lost pet to its owner quickly.


One of our representatives will be happy to contact you via e-mail within 24 hours, or for urgent needs please call us at: (913) 888-3939