Indoor vs outdoor cats? Which side of the fence are you on when it comes to this ongoing debate? In the UK, the majority of cat owners allow their cats to come and go as they please, while a small percentage of pawrents prefer keeping their cats inside. Both approaches have their benefits, as well as a few cons,
Of course, what you decide to do with your moggie is entirely up to you. But we thought it would be a good idea to explore this topic a bit further and give you some food for thought.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is An Outdoor Cat?
Cats, like people, have different personalities. There are brave cats and timid cats, scaredy cats and fierce cats, and more often than not your cat will decide whether it wants to spend the majority of its time outdoors, or rather be out and about. And as they get older, their preferences might change. Senior cats, even if they used to roam freely, might eventually choose to stay indoors.
If you have got an outdoor cat, trust us, you will know soon enough. It will tend to make a run for it when given the opportunity or will claw at the doors and windows. Should you have a vocal feline, its constant meowing will get your attention.
5 Major Benefits Of Raising An Outdoor Cat
In an ideal world, all cats would have the freedom to climb trees, hunt and generally do what cats do. But depending on where you live, this isn’t always possible. If your home is in a quiet little village, you are more likely to let your cat explore the great outdoors. However, if you are in a built-up area with loads of traffic and people, it would be better to keep your cats indoors, for their safety.
Let’s take a look at the benefits for cats that live outside.
1. Physical activity
Cats that spend a lot of time outside are less likely to put on weight, unlike indoor cats that lead a more sedentary lifestyle. When they are running, climbing and exploring, they are also getting plenty of exercise.
2. Mental stimulation
Outdoor cats get a lot more mental stimulation than their indoor counterparts. Mother Nature provides plenty of smells, sights and sounds to stimulate a cat’s senses.
3. Needs less attention
Don’t get us wrong here. We aren’t saying an outdoor cat doesn’t need as much attention, but if you work long hours, the outdoors will provide your feline friend with plenty of stimulation. Knowing your cat isn’t pining for you will make you feel less guilty about not being home.
4. Natural behaviour
It is in a cat’s nature to scratch, claw and spray. Letting your cat do these things outside enables it to express itself, without ruining your furniture or making the house smell.
5. Hone its instincts
If you have ever watched cats playing, you will notice how they stalk, hunt and leap onto their ‘prey’. Whether it’s watching birds fly by, waiting for an unsuspecting rodent or climbing trees, cats thrive outdoors, in a natural environment.
Possible Risks For Outdoor Cats
Where there are pros, there have got to be a couple of cons. Carry on reading to find out the possible risks outdoor cats might face.
Sadly, an outdoor cat can be hurt or even killed. And in a lot of cases, they are under 12 months old. Cats do better with busy roads, rather than quiet country lanes. This is because they are often caught off guard by a single passing car. Cats that spend a lot of time outside can also get into fights with other cats, or get attacked by dogs and people.
Although cats have a very good sense of direction, they can get lost. This is more likely to happen when it is raining, or there are loud noises around. Outdoor cats should wear a collar with your contact details, and also be microchipped.
Unfortunately, your cat can pick up diseases from other stray or feral cats, that can be passed onto you, your family and other pets. A lot of these diseases are serious and can even cause death. The common ones include:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Feline AIDS
- Feline leukaemia
- Feline distemper
Pick up parasites
It isn’t uncommon for outdoor cats to pick up ticks, fleas, mites, ringworm and intestinal worms. While these parasites are more pesky than dangerous, they can quickly be passed onto you and your family.
The Benefits of Keeping Your Cat Indoors
Won’t get lost
Keeping your cat inside reduces the chances of it getting lost or going missing. To prevent this from happening, it is essential to have your cat microchipped, in case it gets out of the house.
Safe from diseases
Indoor cats generally live longer than outdoor cats. And while this depends on several factors, it also comes down to the fact that many free-roaming cats pick up all sorts of diseases from other stray and feral cats, Light coloured cats need to be protected from the sun, to avoid them getting skin cancer.
Less chance of being run over
Unfortunately, a cat that is allowed to roam freely is at risk of getting run over by a car. And as we have already mentioned, even the quiet country lanes are as dangerous as busy town centres. Knowing your cat is inside with you gives you peace of mind.
The Cons of Keeping a Cat Indoors
Yes, you guessed it. Pros equal a couple of cons. Let’s take a look at the possible drawbacks of raising indoor cats.
Cats are sensitive and can be affected by the smallest things. If your kitty is used to roaming freely and is suddenly cooped up indoors all day, it can cause some behavioural issues. Feelings of anxiety, frustration and depression can manifest in a couple of ways, including:
- Spraying to mark its territory
- Scratching furniture
- Excessive grooming
- Making a mess outside the litter box
As much as cats like routine and structure, they also don’t do well when their environment becomes too predictable. Over time, an indoor cat might depend on you more, and be oversensitive to even the slightest change.
Lack of mental stimulation
Cats are hunters, and when they are kept indoors without the opportunity to stalk and hunt, they experience a lack of mental stimulation.
Cats are more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety when they can’t escape certain situations. Whether it is the family pooch, over-enthusiastic children or other cats in the house, if a cat doesn’t have its own space, there is a good chance behavioural issues will develop.
Unfortunately for indoor cats, there are other hazards you need to be aware of. To keep your cat safe in and around the home, remember to:
- Keep washing machine and tumble drier doors closed, so your cat can’t climb in without you knowing
- Keep toilet lids down to avoid your kitty accidentally drowning
- Close windows and doors with a screen
- Check that your cat can’t fit through any gaps in your fence in case it gets outside
- Make sure there are no toxic flowers or plants in your home
- Lock household detergents out of reach of your curious kitten. Some cleaning products are dangerous if ingested and can cause serious health issues and even death.
Indoor vs Outdoor Cats?
So now you know the benefits and risks for the differences in opinions, which option do you think is best for you and your cat? We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Just leave a comment below.
Or for more fascinating feline facts check out our cat blog here.