President’s Message

Perils of Outdoor Cats

Our lead story reports on a stray, emaciated, pregnant cat who fortunately had a good outcome; most stray and feral cats are not so lucky and meet a sad and painful end. 

Some of these unfortunate felines were once family pets who either were treated as inside/outside cats or were inside cats who slipped out of an open door. Nothing could be worse for these animals when outside than to be suddenly startled by something, such as a barking dog or another cat chasing them. They end up someplace unknown – totally lost. They hide in fear, not knowing how to survive, for they are used to being fed and having a warm bed and have no idea how to cope with the dangers the outside world presents. 

PETA reports on the perils of cats who are lost and missing, and they are truly horrific. I will spare you the worst accounts, but even the lesser ones are tragic to all of us who love animals. The reports range from two stray cats who found food at a cat colony and were killed by raccoons who wanted the same food, to a cat whom the owner allowed to roam and was found with a paw caught in a steel-jaw leg hold trap, leading to an amputation. In yet another case, a boy and his grandmother out on a walk found a badly injured, declawed cat in the middle of a road. They brought the cat to a veterinarian who found a broken pelvis, a torn-up leg, and a concussion. Fortunately for that cat, they decided to keep her after treatment.

Pat Valusek, president of New York State Humane Association
Pat Valusek, President of New York State Humane Association.

In addition to the injuries that can occur to cats themselves, harm can also come to humans who try to help them. When cats get lost, they don’t receive their rabies shots. There have been reports of cats biting their rescuers, and some of those cats were later found to have rabies. Another entire nightmare ensues.

The only responsible thing to do is: keep your cats inside. Even if you have adopted outside cats, they will ultimately adjust if you are vigilant in keeping them inside. And to be on the safe side, have your cats microchipped which will enhance the chances of their being returned should they slip out.

Personally, I have given a home to several cats we found when working on cruelty cases – cats who were living outside. After they were tested and brought into my home, none of them fought to go out, in fact none of them ever showed any interest in going out again.  I am sure they were thinking, “Hey, I have plenty of food, warmth, a litter box…why would I go out?”  Why indeed.

Always be kind to animals,

Patricia Valusek

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol. XXXVII, Winter/Spring 2021.