Today, cats are seen by many as disposable and are simply left behind when the owners move.
Cats may seem independent but they still need to receive the love and care that we provide.
For some, cats have become members of the family. A furry friend who is ready to be the alarm clock in the morning or someone to keep your feet warm at night.
Cats are quite whimsical and can definitely lift your spirits with their “care-free, the world is mine” attitude.
For those of us that have a cat as a part of the family, we care for them, feed them, provide regular health checks, and keep them up-to-date on their vaccinations.
In addition to the emotional attachment that grows between a person and their cat it is also an investment of time and money. You will want to protect that investment.
There are many situations that a cat can encounter outdoors that may challenge the health and wellbeing of your pet.
Outdoor cats are exposed to dangers, diseases and parasites:
- Fleas which in turn exposes them to tapeworms.
- Round worms and hook worms.
- Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV).
- Feline immuno-deficiency disease (FIV).
- Other infectious diseases.
- Liver flukes (contracted from eating lizards).
- Cat bite abscesses from fights.
- Attacked by a dog.
- Hit by a car.
All of these things may, at the very least, incur additional veterinary bills.
Infectious diseases such as FeLV and FIV are transmitted by contact with infected cats.
Bermuda has an extensive number of feral cats, which are likely carriers of feline infectious diseases, and although there is a trap-neuter-release (TNR) programme in place to reduce the numbers, not all cats have been attended to yet.
Ways to keep your cat healthy and safe
- Spay or neuter your cat. This can be done as early as four months of age with a veterinary consultation. It helps reduce how far they wander from home and also helps control the overpopulation of cats.
- Have your cat micro chipped. This gives your cat an ID number registered to your name and address. If your cat is not micro chipped it could be mistaken for a stray.
- Cats can also wear a quick release collar with ID tag. Your cat is then identified to have an owner and can be returned to you when found. However, if your cat is a climber, which most are, there is a tendency for cats to lose their collar.
- Keep your cat up to date on all vaccinations and health checks.
- Regularly treat your cat with Flea medication.
- Installing invisible fencing can keep your cat on your property, which is responsible pet ownership however; this will not prevent cats coming into your yard.
- Keep your cat indoors. Many people do not see this as an option, yet it removes the dangers that your cat may be exposed to. It keeps your vet bills down and potentially increases the lifespan of your cat.
A cat can easily live a happy life indoors with regular exercise. You can provide an outside enclosure for your cat, train them to walk with a leash and harness or spend time playing with them at home.
Cats tend to sleep during the day while their owners are out, with increased activity in the evenings when their owners are home.
The cat population quickly gets out of hand. They tend to have two to three heats per year with an average litter size of four to five kittens.
With these numbers, an unaltered female and her offspring can produce up to 420,000 kittens in seven years.
The size of Bermuda’s feral cat population is unknown. The cycle continues because people do not take the responsibility to spay or neuter their indoor/outdoor cat or they abandon their unaltered cat at a feeding station to survive alone.
One unaltered pet cat contributes enormously to overpopulation.
Please be a part of the solution and have your cat spayed or neutered today!
Roma Hayward, BSc, RVT, is the humane education officer at Bermuda SPCA.