Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Hi! My neighbor has a cat with FIV. She keeps him inside but occasionally he gets out. I have been concerned about contact with my indoor-outdoor cat. I recently read one of your articles regarding how difficult it is to transmit the virus. Can you tell me if I should continue being stressed out about this situation? Thanks for all you do.
Thomas: Well, Jody, if the two cats don’t fight, the odds that your cat will get FIV from your neighbor’s cat are pretty small.
Bella: However, we do think that if possible, cats should be indoors only. It’s safer for all kinds of reasons.
Tara: When I was stuck outside, I was so afraid — and I was cold and wet and miserable — and I almost got hit by a car once, too! It was awful!
Thomas: Not only does being indoors prevent the risk of road accidents, fights and disease transmission, it also reduces the risk of encounters with people who may not have good intentions toward cats …
Tara: I’m lucky I never ran into anybody like that!
Thomas: It also help to keep your cat from hunting rodents and birds. Now, given, cats really are not very good bird hunters, no matter what some large organizations with equally large advertising and lobbying budgets would have you believe, but if you live in an area where there are lots of songbirds, it’s something to consider.
Bella: We’re not trying to take you to task here, because a lot of times cats that go outdoors don’t hunt and don’t fight. And some cats are just happier when they can get a breath of fresh air and sit in a sun puddle that’s not blocked by a window.
Tara: In this case, we recommend that you get or build a “catio.” That’s a special place where cats can enjoy the outdoors without running the risk of unfortunate encounters.
Thomas: Here are some great ideas for catios from cat expert Jackson Galaxy (of My Cat From Hell fame) and his legions of fans.
Bella: Now, catios come in a whole range of price points from the super-elaborate (and super-expensive) to the mid-range to the fairly affordable. You can also buy special kits to install on the top of your fence that will keep your cat in your own back yard — and keep other cats out.
Tara: If you or someone you know is handy with tools and building supplies, you can also make a DIY catio. There are tons of design guides out there, and you can probably find a good kit that will meet your cat’s needs and your budget.
Thomas: If you were to give your kitty the gift of a catio, you’d never have to worry about your cat coming in contact with your neighbor’s FIV-positive cat!
Bella: We think a catio is the perfect combination: they allow cats to experience life outdoors and they minimize the risk of Bad Things happening. Mama says that if we lived on the ground floor, she’d give us a catio.
Tara: But as it is, we live up in high, so we only have a balcony. And Mama only lets us go out on it when she’s out there, too.
Bella: But the balcony is really nice, and it’s great that we get to nap in outdoor sun puddles during the summer.
Thomas: How about you other readers? Have you built a catio for your feline friend? Where did you get yours? Did you design it yourself, buy a kit, or buy a pre-assembled catio? How has it worked out for your cats?
Bella: Do you have any tips for Jody about getting a catio? Please share them in the comments!