Not all cats comfortable living indoors

Regarding keeping all cats inside: It would be wonderful if this were possible. However, there are cats that just cannot be kept inside, usually because they have already spent their life living outside and that is where they are most comfortable. Forcing them to live inside is very uncomfortable, frightening and often leads to problems like inappropriate urinating or defecating in the house.

Some cats would have no home at all if they had to be kept inside. Granted, keeping cats inside is ideal, but many people still feel they should be booted outside at night; if they did not do this, they most likely would have no cat at all.

I have seven cats; four of them always stay inside the house. I got them as kittens, so they have known no other way than to be inside. One cat lives inside and outside and two cats are “outside only.” All are rescues from the animal emergency room I work in.

The outside cats have a custom-built house with heated beds in the winter, food and water, and an attached deck. This all sits 3 feet off the ground.

Now, regarding the feline distemper virus and the feline leukemia virus:

Once a cat is infected with the virus that causes feline distemper, it may shed the virus in body fluids (most notably urine and feces) for a few days or up to six weeks. If another cat encounters an infected cat (or its body fluids) during this time, transmission is likely.

However, the virus can also live in the environment, such as in contaminated bedding, for up to two years, so contact with contaminated objects can spread the infection.

The feline leukemia virus is generally transmitted when a cat comes into contact with saliva from an infected cat. Certain “social” behaviors, such as mutual grooming and sharing food or water bowls, can spread the disease. Kittens can become infected during fetal development or during the first days of life as their mothers nurse them.

Unlike the distemper virus, FeLV does not live for very long in the environment, so a cat must have contact with an infected cat for the disease to spread.

However, predicting which cats can transmit the disease is complicated; some cats that are contagious don’t develop signs of infection.

These diseases can be prevented by vaccinating your cats annually.

SUSAN TENNANT

Zebulon, N.C.