The Washington Post
Cats belong indoors
I sympathize with the devotion Fernanda Santos expressed when faced with her cat Rocky’s medical emergency, as described in her Jan. 1 Friday Opinion essay, “A snake bit my cat. Clearing out my bank accounts to save him was an easy choice.” In November, my cat, Oscar, spent three days in intensive care for an embolism causing paralysis and excruciating pain. I felt emotions similar to those experienced by Ms. Santos when handing over the credit card for an unknown sum at the veterinarian hospital, never considering abandoning a beloved family member because of money.
But unlike Rocky’s snake encounter, Oscar’s condition was congenital, not preventable. We keep Oscar indoors unless he’s on a leash or contained outside. We do this not only to protect Oscar from the poisonous native copperhead snakes, but also because we respect the native birds, rabbits, lizards and squirrels that have a rightful existence outside. Ms. Santos minimized her local wildlife as injured and dead “gifts” from her nonnative cat. Billions of wild animals die needlessly at the claws of domestic cats each year in the U.S. alone. Our environment is exhausted from indifference to the critical loss of wild creatures. A cautionary tale would encourage readers to protect their wallets, their pets and the wild around them by keeping their cats indoors.
Terri Stahl Cuthriell, Smithfield, Va. The writer is conservation lead for the Virginia Society of Ornithology.