Categories: parasites

Brits will shrug off the warning about outside cats picking up parasites

Outdoor Cat. Photo by Andrew Currie.

It’s all over the internet at present; research indicating that outside cats are three times more likely to pick up a parasitic infection than indoor cats. But Brits will totally ignore this. It will have no impact on their decision making about whether to allow their cat outside or not.

Cat owners did not need a comprehensive study such compared almost two dozen studies from around the world to tell us the obvious. Free roaming cats will hunt and ingest intestinal parasites for instance. They will get fleas from mice and other animals. They’ll pick up ticks in the long grass and ingest toxoplasma gondii oocysts.

This is common sense. However, British cat owners don’t think about these things. For the vast majority of British cat owners keeping their cat inside all the time is unimaginable. It’s cruel most of them will say.

There are exceptions such as my near neighbour who keeps her 10 cats inside all the time. The fact of the matter is that 95% of British cat owners don’t even consider keeping their cats inside. Like declawing it does not enter their minds for a second. They are often unaware of the concept of keeping domestic cats inside the home full-time (and the same goes for declawing).

The driving force behind allowing cats outside is that their lives are more natural. If you asked a Brit why she let her cats roam freely she’d say it’s natural. Cats need to free roam outside to enjoy life. In a way, the British cat owner is making a decision for their cat that it is preferable to live a shorter (on average) happier life than a longer and unhappier one.

The cat owing public of the UK have subconsciously or rationally decided that their cats are better off enjoying the outdoors and taking the risk that this lifestyle brings.

But in order to make this decision they have to accept that they might lose their cat to road traffic or some other accident or the deliberate act of a cat hater.

They have to mentally process that possibility. If a person genuinely loves their cat it is difficult to put him or her in harm’s way which is what the Brits are doing. Either Brits have mentally processed this possibility – their cat being killed on the road – and learned to accept it or they lack a good bond with their cat. If the bond is loose the loss of a cat is much easier to bear.

DOMESTIC CAT HEAVEN! — Photo by Kazutaka Sawa published under creative commons license

There is also the importance of cats. Perhaps Brits don’t see their cat as important enough in their lives to be concerned about their welfare to the point where they feel obliged to keep their cat inside. Is that true? Are Brits more careless about domestic cat welfare than Americans?

I don’t think so. There are more dangers outside for domestic cats in the US than in the UK. There are cat eating predators and the climate in large parts of the US is amenable to outside living for domestic cats which results in more stray cats which in turn leads to a ‘stray cat problem’. This can lead to more cat abuse by cat haters. Another outside cat danger and a good reason to keep cats inside at all times.

World map showing attitudes on indoor/outdoor cats

Letting domestic cats roam outside is deeply rooted in British culture. It won’t change no matter how many studies there are bring doom and gloom. It is water off a ducks back to the Brits.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Yes, if your cat spends any time outside they should be wet wash clothed at least once a day, combed/brushed and given proper tick and flea treatment. That in addition to brushing their teeth. It's all fun if you do it right.

    • Nice work. You are very conscientious. I do inspect my cat's coat as he has become an outside cat because he escaped his garden enclosure (a bespoke cat confinement enclosure deemed impossible to escape from!).

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