Should cats live outdoors or be kept indoors only? Here’s the debate: Outdoor cats are able to genuinely do the things that they are naturally inclined to do (hunt real prey, get fresh air, etc). Alternatively, indoor cats are much safer. My research and experience has led me to believe that there are 8 important reasons that cats should be indoors only except for instances when they are in their human’s control.
1. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives.
Want your cat to live the longest life possible? Statistics show that indoor cats live an average of 14 years (while some live into their 20’s), while outdoor cats have an average life expectancy of only 7 years. That means that indoor cats live about twice as long as outdoor cats.
2. The threat of disease is less indoors.
Many serious feline diseases are very contagious and common among strays and ferals. These diseases spread so easily because cats have reasons to fight (and fight fiercely) outdoors. Cats are territorial animals that fight not only over their favorite real estate but also over food and mates. Fights end up in transfer of blood borne pathogens as well as those in other bodily fluids. Indoor cats are far less likely to contract diseases like the following:
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
- FIV – the feline version of HIV
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – a virus affecting the cat’s intestinal tract
- Feline Distemper
- Upper Respiratory Infections
3. Parasites really suck. Really.
Parasites – first they suck the blood out of your cat, then they suck the blood out of your and your family, and finally, they top it all off by sucking all kinds of money out of your wallet. Outside your kitty can pick up things like fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, ringworm, and ear mites. Then, when you let your kitty back inside, they bring all of their new found parasite friends into your home with them. Getting rid of the parasites could cost you a lot of time and money. You will end up going to the vet to get medication for your cat, the doctor for any medications needed for your family, and doing a lot of vacuuming.
4. Outdoor animals can be mean.
As mentioned in reason #2, feral cats and strays are territorial and prone to fighting. However, cats are not the only problematic animals that your outdoor cat may run into. It is not uncommon for outdoor cats to sustain injuries from fights with dogs and wildlife. When cats are sick, scared, or injured, one of their instincts is to hide, so they may not run straight home to you for care. If your cat’s injuries remain untreated they can become infected and cause serious medical problems.
Personal story – My dad likes to let his cats out in his yard while he sits on the porch. Not too long ago, while in his driveway, his cat, Stormy, was attacked and nearly killed by 2 loose dogs. She lived, but she has lost the use of her left hind leg and the 2 dogs had to be euthanized by animal control.
5. Some people belong in the pound.
As much as we hate to think about it, there are some very cruel people on this planet. These people abduct friendly animals and use them as bait in fighting rings, for scientific experiments, and even just to satisfy their own ungodly desire to torture other living creatures. Indoor kitties are not an easy target for these people.
Neighbors who don’t like cats can be an issue too. Outdoor cats will often choose places like your neighbor’s flower bed to be their litter box. All of the feces and uprooted plants may annoy a neighbor who is proud of their garden. Angry neighbors sometimes choose to take matters into their own hands and harm the cat or call animal control to pick the cat up.
6. Outdoor cats don’t use crosswalks.
We have all seen them on the side of the road – kitties that didn’t quite make it. The possibility of getting hit by a car is ever-present for a cat that is outdoors. Unless there is something really strange about your house, your indoor cat will be safe from oncoming traffic.
7. Curiosity can kill the cat.
You can’t control the kinds of things your cat will get into outdoors. A cat can be poisoned from eating a poisonous plant, licking antifreeze off of their paws, or even eating a rodent that had just taken the bait in a poisoned rodent trap. Indoors you have more control over what kinds of poisonous things are within your cat’s reach.
8. Less than ideal weather situations.
Humans have domesticated cats for a very long time and they have come to depend on us for some of their needs. Your cat may not handle ice and snow as well as you think it should. As if the elements themselves weren’t a big enough threat, a cold cat may decide to sleep inside the nice warm engine of a car. No details are necessary to see what is wrong with that. Hot weather can lead to dehydration, sunburns, and heatstroke. Indoor kitties don’t have to worry about the weather.