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Indoor Pets Better for Environment?

pets-indoors

Image source: Google Images, Creative-Commons

Though they plead for you to do otherwise, with the incessant pawing at the doors and longing glares out the windows, it is best to keep your pets inside. Not only is it safer for your four-legged companions, but is actually better ecologically.

Annually, cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds per year, as concluded from a study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. They kill even more mammals, tallying up a head count of 6.9 to 20.7 billion. All of which is made possible by outdoor access.

These findings are not exclusive to feral cats. For every week a well-feed house-cat spends outdoors, it will kill an average of 2.1 animals. This is worsened by the fact that most often the animals killed are of a native species rather than alien or invasive species, which only exacerbates the fractured ecological web.

While unquestionably a friend to non-threatening humans, dogs appear even more aggressive than their feline counter-parts. Even when restricted by leash, simply walking dogs through the park has been found to decrease local bird species by 35% in Australia. The higher rate of canine induced killings may not seem surprising,  however it is somewhat significant when considering dogs were domesticated thousands of years before cats, living alongside human companions as early as 15,000 years ago. Nonetheless, their hunter instincts remain intact, perhaps too much so. In Italy, for example, a mere five dogs wiped out the country’s largest flamingo colony. The time it took the dogs to do so: a single day. Another, no less illustrious, piece of canine lore comes from New Zealand, where a lone dog killed over half of the kiwi colony. The duration of this incident comprised a few weeks.

cat-outside

Image source: Google Images, Creative-Commons

Keeping pets outdoors is a threat to their own well-being as well. Pets that stay outside have shorter life-spans and are prone to multiple diseases, including rabies, heart-worms, and feline immunodeficiency virus, which is the feline equivalent to AIDS. These are commonly acquired through transmission from other animals and bites from insects carrying the disease. Pets needn’t be full-fledged outdoor dogs or cats to fall victim to these ailments, though the risk of exposure certainly increases. Furthermore, some of these diseases can be transmitted to you or your family members.

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