Let us look at the biggest ways people are harming their cats out of good intention.
1. The great outdoors. Most cat lovers will tell you their cat is happier outdoors, and while this is probably true, they are also at the most risk when outdoors. The biggest risks are cars and angry neighbours. To think like a cat, you must think like a 4 year old child. You are innocent to the dangers around you, you just want to play, explore, and nap. Unwatched, and without a fence, you are easily sidetracted and prone to wandering off. What parent would allow a 4 year old child to roam around unsupervised and without a fence? Yet many cat owners do this. There are ways of letting a cat out and keeping it safe, the same as you would do for your child. Such methods are building a cat enclosure or harness training the pet. The average lifespan of a cat who goes outside is 2 years.
2. Milk. Cats are lactose intollerant, some more than others. Sure, they love milk, but it hurts their digestive system, causing it to work harder, often resulting in diarrhea. Additionally milk is high in Calcium, which is noted for causing urinary tract problems. Milk won’t kill your cat, but it will contribute to problems that many owners find impossible to deal with (referring to the urinary problems, which some owners refuse to deal with and abandon their cat instead). Urinary problems can be fixed, but not if you continue to offer your cat milk. Even the milk treat sold in stores has no nutritional value.
Painting by Otto Scholderer.
3. Tuna and Salmon. Again, two things cats love. Tuna is bad for them because of the high mercury content, Salmon is bad for them because of the high calcuim content in the fish bones often contained in salmon. Too much fish oil in their stomachs makes it hard to digest and absorb vitamins and minerals correctly. Occassional treats wont hurt, but too much of a good thing, will.
4. Low quality food. All pet foods say they are the best, full nutrition, and so on. We all know, all things cannot be the best. If your cat food contains a lot of corn or any “by-products” it is a low quality food. Cats are carnivores, they must have a good meat source, protein from corn is not a good meat source and is difficult to digest. As a result cats must eat more food to get any nutrition -thus making things hard on their digestive tract. Gravy is a carbohydrate, cats should never be fed canned food that has gravy. A lot of people, though wrong feeding habits, are increasing their cats likelyhood of developing diabetes, or other health problems.
5. Abandoning an Unwanted Cat onto a Farm. Believe it or not, but most farmers do not want your unwanted pet. Most farmers will shoot cats and dogs who are dumped on their farm, that is if the resident farm dog or clan of cats doesnt drive it off first. City cats do not adust well to farm life, its cruel and hard. Coyotees, and racoons will kill cats. It seems like an idealic life, but unless the farmer asked you for the cat, chances are he does not want it. I live in the country myself, and know this as a fact.
6. Letting your Pet Reproduce. This not only puts the life of your pet in danger, but there is no guarantee your pet wants to be a parent. Occasionally they will reject the litter. The real problem here though is that millions of cats and kittens are euthanized every year in animal shelters, so even if your litter finds homes, it means somebody elses litter of kittens did not. Addionally cats who are not spayed or neutered are at greater risks for some health problems including some cancers. Typically spayed and neutered pets live on average 2 years longer than those who have not been “fixed”, and have fewer health problems.
Remember we all want what is best for our pets, but our cats do not know what is best for them. Always think of your cat as a 4 year old child. Just because they like something, does not me that it is safe, or good, for them. You are not only their owner, you are their parent, and guardian. Providing your pet with good food, fun toys, and a safe environment is your responsibility.