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PETS

Q: My husband and I disagree on the subject of indoor versus outdoor cats. I want to keep our cat indoors, and he wants to let her outside. What do you think?

A: Most cat experts agree keeping cats indoors is the best way to keep them healthy.

Indoor cats cannot get hit by cars, get attacked by other animals, or get lost or stolen. They aren't as exposed to viruses such as feline leukemia (FELV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Indoor cats are protected from many toxic substances such as antifreeze and certain pesticides.

You can certainly provide adequate mental and physical stimulation for an indoor cat with toys, playtime and various pieces of specially designed cat furniture.

If you must let your cat outdoors, there are some simple rules to follow. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered. Keep your cat up-to-date on recommended vaccinations. Discuss with your veterinarian which vaccines your cat should have. Make sure your cat is on a good quality, safe flea and tick control product.

Try to keep your cat indoors at night. Keep your garden safe for your cat. Avoid using chemicals in your lawn and garden. Avoid toxic plants such as lilies, foxglove or Japanese yew.

I would further recommend micro-chipping your cat to increase the chance of identifying our pet if she gets lost. Furthermore, you should have a safety collar on your cat for easy identification if she gets lost or injured.

Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 1252, Buffalo, N.Y. 14205 or to the Web site at nfvs.online.org. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.