Can cats and kittens be a life threatening risk? And should they be allowed outdoors?

Inventing untrue stories about cats does not help anyone

Kittens and cats made headlines this week, mostly because they were deliberately sensationalist.

“Cuddling kittens can kill you”

While it is true that kittens (and cats) can carry a bacterial infection that can cause Cat Scratch Fever in humans, the risk of a serious issue with this is so minimal that the National Health Service website has likened the risk to be similar to being hit by a meteorite. For most people, the simple take home message is that cat scratches need to be treated carefully, cleaning them in the same way as you’d clean any cut or scratch. And if the cat scratch becomes unusually red and itchy, or if you develop a headache or other signs of unwellness, you should go to your doctor for treatment.

That’s it: no need to frighten people with tales of hospitalisation and death.

“Outdoor cats should be rounded up and killed”

An American academic suggested that outdoor cats were such a monumental threat to bird life that they should be rounded up and taken indoors. Then if homes could not be found for them, they should be euthanased. His view – presented as pure science – is an opinion based on specific factors that do not apply universally. Other knowledgeable groups – such as the RSPB in the UK – have evidence to show that cats do not present a major risk to any bird species in Europe, and therefore there is no need to keep them indoors all the time. As an example of the selective evidence choosing that feeds the “no outdoor cats” view, it’s been shown that cats hunt as many – or more – rodents as they do birds. So if they were kept indoors, it would likely that the population of rats and mice would dramatically increase. And how might that affect the local bird population (not to mention the humans living in the area).

In this podcast, we discuss these themes in more detail.

Listeners’ queries

After our discussion about cats, we went on to answer some listeners’ queries:

  • What should you do about a dog with dandruff?
  • What’s the best way to buy a “Cavachon”?
  • How much exercise does a Labrador pup need?
  • How can I stop my neighbour’s cats from peeing on my doormat?
  • My itchy dog improved on anti-inflammatories, but he piddled everywhere, and now that he’s off the tablets, he’s still peeing in the house. What can I do?

Listen to the podcast:

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