Animals likely to live longer if kept inside

Posted: Sunday, October 12, 2003

TOPEKA, Kan. Keeping your cat indoors may be the best way to ensure it reaches old age.

Dogs in many cases can live outdoors without suffering adverse effects but should be confined to a secure, enclosed area to prevent wandering.

Those are the sentiments of Dr. Marjory Artzer, assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Artzer said cats probably are best served by being kept indoors at all times, both for safety and longevity factors.

"It's safer for cats to live indoors," Artzer said. "They don't have the problem of being hit by cars, being attacked by other animals or being harmed in cruelty situations.

"You also worry less about parasites like fleas and ticks, and intestinal parasites and infectious diseases."

Cats that are left to fend for themselves often have a much shorter life than their indoor counterparts, Artzer said.

"Most of the time," Artzer said, "cats that are free-roaming have a much shorter life, because they have so many more hazards they encounter."

Dogs are a slightly different story, Artzer said.

They can be outdoors and enjoy long lives in many instances, provided the pet owner takes care of such needs as food, water and shelter, regular medical care and a safe, enclosed environment in which the animal can live.

Outdoor dogs can live a long time, based largely on "how well they are taken care of," Artzer said.

As some cat and dog owners have learned the hard way, letting their pets run free through the neighborhood can come at a "costly" price, Artzer said.

Not only can the animal be injured or killed, but it can be picked up by local animal control officers who take the pets to a local shelter.

Pet owners then must pay to get their animal out of the shelter, plus pay fines and court costs in some cases.

But pets that are confined to indoors or back yards can benefit from being outside, provided the owner keeps the pets on a leash or under close supervision.

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