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Published: Apr 21, 2011

While allowing a cat to explore her surroundings may be a convenient way for the animal to get exercise, there are dangers associated with this feline lifestyle. According to the Baltimore Sun, shifting demographics and environments should prompt some cat owners to reconsider letting their cat have the run of the neighborhood.

"While it's true that coyotes, stray dogs, birds of prey, even alligators are real potential threats to outdoor cats, the most widespread predator is the car," Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the news source. "Somehow, people have this notion that cats are cunning enough to avoid being hit by cars, but that's just not true."

In addition, there are toxins in urban environments that can prove harmful or even deadly to cats, such as antifreeze. Cats may also be at risk of becoming involved in fights with other felines, and female cats could be impregnated by a wandering male who has not been neutered.

According to the Humane Society, spaying and neutering pets is an effective way to help reduce the number of homeless animals living in shelters and on the streets.