Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cat
There are two popular schools of thought when it comes to living arrangements for our feline friends: 1) domestic cats are relatives of wild cats, therefore they are happier and better off left outside, and 2) domestic cats are known as ‘house cats’ for a reason – they are meant to stay inside. Does keeping a cat indoors go against nature? Are you being selfish for making your cuddly kitten live indoors with you? Would it be better to keep Tiger inside most of the time, but let him wander outdoors on occasion? No, no and no!
Sure, an outdoor life for Tiger may be what “nature intended,” but did you know it can shorten his life span to an average of only two to five years? Compared to the twenty-plus years a healthy indoor-only cat can live, a mere two to five years just isn’t fair.
It has been proven that an outdoor cat lives a more stressful life than an indoor cat, and stress can lead to numerous physical and psychological disorders, just as it can in humans. While the freedom to roam may a desire for Tiger, it can lead to dangerous situations. Outdoor cat dangers include:
- Exposure to infectious diseases like feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus (remember, vaccinations can’t provide infallible protection; reducing exposure is an important part of prevention);
- Wounds resulting from attacks or fights with other animals;
- Being struck by a car;
- Ingesting toxic chemicals (even self-grooming can be a danger after walking through a chemically treated yard);
- Infestation of fleas, ticks, mosquitos and any other insect looking to hitch a ride or find a food source; and
- Retaliation from an unsympathetic human who got angry because Tiger pooped in his yard or walked on his car.
If you are a pet parent to an adventurous outdoor feline, you might think, “My cat is too smart to get hit by a car” or “My cat wouldn’t hurt a fly; he’d never get into a fight.” That may be true, but it only takes one mistake: One moment of fear-induced flight from a neighborhood dog can result in your cat running into the path of a car. One lick of a sweet treat like antifreeze can cause severe internal injury, or even death. One run in with an angry coyote or raccoon can mean a serious or fatal injury.
Bring the Outdoors Inside
Cats are sensory creatures who get pleasure from different sights, tastes, smells and sounds. They need to exercise their bodies as well as their minds. While the outdoors can fulfill your cat’s wants and needs, you can easily satisfy his natural cravings by bringing the outdoors inside. Plant some oat grass or catnip to offer indoor grazing options. Put a perch beside a window giving him a scenic and active view. Provide a scratching post or kitty condo to keep your cat active and entertained. Provide ample playtime and affection for your cat. Add a second cat or a dog to the mix to provide him with even more companionship and entertainment.
Whether you choose to let your cat live indoors or out, it’s just that – your choice. But, before choosing, consider your environment and the possible outdoor hazards and make the choice that is best for your furry friend’s wellbeing, health and happiness.