Bridget, a listener from Florida, is losing sleep over a neighborhood vagabond named Sparkles, a small Rag Doll mix who began visiting her porch soon after she moved to the area.
As a fan of Cat Chat, Bridget kindly sent me an email, thanking me for the show and asking my advice on what she might do for Sparkles.
Her dilemma is that Sparkles lives outdoors and serves as neighborhood cat, “since everyone feeds her,” Bridget says, “though there seems to be some disagreement as to whether the owner of the cat actually feeds her.”
Sparkles, it seems, has chosen Bridget, and camps out in her lap given every opportunity.
“This is a tame little girl who darts in my house whenever I open my door,” Bridget says. “No one can tell me if she’s ever been taken to a vet, and I haven’t seen the owner home to speak with her. Part of me wants to snatch this cat up, get her vetted, and make her an indoor only cat, but I know she brings a lot of light to folks nearby, many of whom are retired and may not otherwise be able to have a cat.”
Bridget, who has another cat, Ghost—a seven-year-old neutered male Siamese—has noticed obvious dangers in the area, “such as the vicious Florida thunderstorms, large dogs living nearby, raccoons, poisonous snakes and feral cats,” she says. The house across the street operates a mechanic’s shop, with cars constantly coming and going.
“Everyone around here seems to think there’s nothing wrong with the situation, despite my protests,” Bridget says.
My advice to Bridget is to bring Sparkles to the vet, have her thorough checked out, then offer her the luxury of indoor living and keep her safe and sound.
Aside from the obvious dangers of the area, living outside can be scary and lonely. Without a consistent diet (I advocate for wet food), Sparkles may develop health problems. How nice for Ghost to have a pal, too! Sparkles has proven herself to be sweet and nice—not feral, and she should be kept inside all the time for her own health, happiness and safety.
Though other people will carry on having loose cats, contrary to any advice, that lifestyle clearly is not benefiting Sparkles, who seems a very smart kitty to have adopted Bridget.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.