Have you ever wondered whether keeping your cat indoors is a wise decision? Should you let it wander outside from time to time?
If you’d like to learn more about the pros and cons of keeping cats indoors vs outdoors read on.
I hope this article helps you gain a clearer understanding so that you can make the best decision for your adorable cat.
Whether you keep your cat indoors or let it wander outside, at the end of the article we also provide some practical tips to make your cats as healthy and happy as possible.
Why keep cats indoors? The dangers for outdoors cats
Cats are highly susceptible to infections.
The outdoor is one significant way to expose kitty to diseases. The Humane Society estimates that there are around 50 million stray cats in the US.
The danger is that these unmonitored cats or other animals could transmit diseases to your loved one as they interact. Some of these diseases are Feline Leukemia, abscesses, upper respiratory infections, and feline AIDS.
Cats are more likely to pick up parasites like fleas, ear mites, and ticks as they venture outside. They could also get internal parasites like intestinal worms and ringworm.
The parasites cause mild symptoms like scratching and skin infections to severe ones like vomiting and diarrhea. These unwanted pesky little creatures can be tough to eradicate once they get into your home. That’s why prevention is better than cure.
Dogs, wild animals, and other cats
The relationship between cats and dogs has been rocky since days of old.
Some dogs like to bully cats.
Your cat may be a great hunter, but that does not mean their canine counterparts won’t chase them.
But dogs are not the only animal danger. Depending on where you live, an outdoor cat may also be attacked by coyotes, raccoons, foxes, owls, and even alligators.
Kitty dear may also encounter a hostile cat who attacks her (cats can be mean to each other).
Yes, you read that right! We are all not kind to our feline friends.
Again, depending on your neighborhood, letting your cat run outside means exposing her to dangers. Some disgraceful people find it fun to shoot cats with BB guns. Others go a step further and steal cats to sell them to laboratories.
Humans can be horrible. Why expose your cat to such cruel creatures?
Sadly, cats don’t go through the whole “how to cross the road” lesson as we do. They may be hurt or knocked over by a car, especially as they try to cross the street. The risk is even higher in busy roads and highways.
Cats also tend to hide under cars, running the risk of being run over as the owner he gets out of the parking lot.
Cats love to explore their surroundings but are not always as good as dogs coming back home. So there’s a serious risk of your cat getting lost as she explores the outdoors.
Vets recommend microchipping or putting a collar on the cat if it has to be outside. However, collars can break, and the microchip can’t totally prevent the cat from being picked by another person. It’s not worth the risk.
It’s common to find cats stuck in trees afraid and unable to climb down.
Some cats remain unnoticed for days and suffer dehydration and hunger. They may get severe injuries as they fall off from the branches in an attempt to climb down.
Outdoor cats are at a higher risk of encountering poisons, especially as they go through trash cans.
Your feline friend’s curiosity may cause him to ingest toxins such as antifreeze (which surprisingly has a pleasant taste).
Rodent poison is another danger. Particularly for cats who hunt and eat mice that may have recently ingested poison.
Pros of letting your cat outside
Yes, there are many downsides to keeping cats outdoors and that’s why most people (including us) don’t recommend it.
To be fair though, it’s important to acknowledge the upsides for cats that can go outside. That way we can do our best to provide the same benefits indoors too.
Unlimited Play Area and Activity
First, think of the unlimited play area for your cat.
Outdoors cats can engage in natural and enjoyable behaviors such as climbing, running, hunting and encountering new sights and smells. This usually makes outdoor cats less prone to obesity, as they get a lot more “active” time.
Secondly, outdoors your cat is free to engage in its instinctive behavior of scratching. Which is obviously discouraged indoors.
This can easily be remedied indoors by providing your cat with a Cat Tree with scratching posts.
There is something for the pet parent too! Less cleaning of the litter box and less litter smell. Cats allowed to roam outdoors, usually enjoy having a natural litter in a garden.
This is not a big deal though. Cat parents don’t have that many responsibilities, and cleaning litter takes very little time. Plus, there are great odor control litters in the market.
Is It Cruel To Keep Cats Indoors?
People often wonder whether it is cruel to keep cats indoors.
After considering all the dangers and risks that outdoor cats run, it seems clear that indoor cats tend to have a better life.
What’s even better is that we can replicate the main benefits of outdoor cats indoors as well.
Do indoor cats get bored?
Cats are independent and can be left alone for longer than dogs can.
However, cats can also suffer from loneliness and boredom if abandoned for long periods.
So, how do I know if my kitty is bored?
One obvious sign is destructive behavior. Think of damaged sofas from repeated scratching and broken glasses, to name a few. Bored cats also show a lack of appetite, abnormal sleeping, litter box issues, over-grooming, and depression in severe cases.
Does that mean the answer is to take kitty outside for entertainment?
Every cat deserves environmental enrichment but you can provide that indoors as well!
Can indoor cats be happy?
Oh, YES, they can!
It does not take much to make kitty bubbly and full of life.
They do that themselves to some degree by their constant exploration. All we have to do as cat parents is to offer a happy environment.
- Play with them (and buy them interactive toys)
- Keep them well-fed and hydrated
- Keep them and their litter boxes clean
- Don’t forget to shower them with all the love you have to offer
Can indoor cats be healthy?
Cats are known to be low maintenance pets.
This, however, has caused many owners to pay little to no attention to their cats. Inactive pets could easily get obesity and stress-induced diseases.
- Keep your cat active and engaged with simple games. My favorite is letting them hunt for toys that I move as if they were mice
- Make sure to keep her hydrated and give her nutritious food
- Find your cat a pet friend to chase, wrestle and cuddle.
Steps To Make Your Housecat Happy
Here are some tips to keep kitty’s moods on a constant high at home.
Play With Your Cat.
Cats love to play. It is not enough to get a cat for the house. How about sparing some time to play with kitty?
Your feline friend will appreciate the company more than you think. Not only will it encourage kitty to love the indoors but also keep them happy and active.
Besides, I think it is one easy way to learn more about your pet friend and strengthen the bond.
Provide a Window Perch
Cats love nothing more than to bask and stretch, especially under the sun. A cat perch is one way to gift kitty the chance to enjoy the sun from home’s safety.
Install a window bed near a sunny window. You can opt to buy padded perches from a pet store or build one from scratch.
Provide Interactive Toys
Keep kitty physically and mentally stimulated with various interactive toys. You can channel their hunter instinct to playing with toys like the motorized “mice”, laser pointers, or kitty-fishing pole. Cat slow feeders are also a great option.
Remember, cats often get bored with their toys as fast as children do. Rotate between the toys to give kitty a “new toy” illusion.
What toy does your pet friend love the most? Each cat has a preferred toy. One way to know is to enjoy playing with your cat and pay attention to its favorite toys.
Many cats like catnips. I’ll tell you why!
Catnip is a plant from the mint family that gives some cats a sense of happiness or euphoria.
Various cat toys in the market contain catnip in its dried and ground form. Cats love to rub, paw at, lick and even chew at catnip toys.
Those with strong reactions may growl, purr, drool, or act crazy for several minutes. After which the effect wears off until the next encounter with their toys.
Get Other Cats
Cats are somewhat social creatures.
At times, they get bored when they have no other pet friend to keep them company. Therefore, it helps to have a partner to play, chase, compete, and groom with. Get kitty a feline friend to keep her engaged while indoors.
This is a great video that goes over these and more tips.
Steps To Make an Outdoor Cat Healthy
If it is not possible for you to keep your cats indoors, it is absolutely important that you take extra care to protect your cat. You can do so by following these steps.
Please make sure to have your cats microchipped if you are going to let them outside. This simple step is going to make it much more likely for you to find your cat if she gets lost while roaming around.
We have gone through the various diseases that cats are exposed to by being outdoors. It’s best to visit a vet to ensure kitty gets the proper shots. Make sure to let the vet know if the cat is going to wander outside as that will inform her or him of other potential vaccines to do.
Note that the type of vaccine will also depend on the country or region you live in.
Be On The Lookout For Toxins.
Trash cans contain scraps, pesticides, and other poisons that are a danger to your cat. It’s best to keep these things out of kitty’s reach and ensure the trash can is tightly closed.
Avoid letting her out at night – Keep control of the schedule
As “How I Met Your Mother” taught us, Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M. If your cat does go outside, try to always make sure she comes back home for dinner and that she doesn’t go back out at night.
You can do that by not always keep food available and instead, feeding her at given schedules. That way, she’ll likely be hungry by night time and be happy to come home when you call her/
Many of the dangers that cats run outside are more prevalent at night, so ensuring she’s home during the dark hours can go a long way in keeping her safe.
Despite the various benefits, it’s difficult to ignore the numerous risks of keeping a cat outside.
Besides, you can tweak your indoor space to cater to Kitty’s outdoor needs and make her live a happy and fulfilling life.
At the same time, if you are not able, for whatever condition, to keep your cat indoors, there are a few steps you can take.