With every cat owner polarised to their own views, next to declawing, the question of whether a cat should be kept indoors or outdoors is probably one of the toughest out there. In many countries, including the UK, most cats are allowed free access to the outdoors with no question of whether or not it’s the right thing to do. But is it the right thing to do?
Whether you are a cat-owner or not, many people have their own strong views on this issue. Everyone has their own little way of going about this, and there are so many options out there that there’s bound to be something that suits you and your feline friend. There are lots of different factors to take into consideration, such as the cat’s natural energy levels and where you live.
Positives and Negatives for Outdoor Cats
Allowing cats free rein to the outdoors is more appropriate in some circumstances than others, as is the case with so many other decisions. For the majority of cats, it’s possible to find an arrangement that will keep them happy and healthy, wherever you live.
The best solution is to allow your cat to keep their territory and have a familiar and reliable hand to feed, stroke and clean up after them. In case you’re still undecided, here’s a run-down of some of the pros and cons of keeping cats outdoors:
- Plenty of space to run and explore
- Improved mood and more energy
- Sunshine, fresh air and greater freedom
- Access to the road poses a risk of death or injury
- Death or injury could also result from fights with other cats
- Risk of parasitic infections like ringworm, fleas and ticks
- May hunt endangered wildlife like red squirrels or birds
- May be stolen as “bait” for illicit gaming or experimentation
- May litter in the neighbour’s yard
- Animal Control may mistake them for a stray and take them
- Greater risk of encountering predators and dogs
- FIP, FIV, FeLV, URIs and similar diseases could be contracted from other cats
- Could be poisoned intentionally or accidentally
Particularly for a re-homed cat who has already experienced run-ins with abusers and animal control, it can be traumatic for a cat to spend time outdoors, especially if they live in a loud urban area or somewhere they can get lost easily. They can’t read maps or ask for directions, so if they get lost, they’re gone.
Happy Cats Inside the House
As you have seen, the evidence is all on the side of keeping your cat indoors, though it’s worth saying that there is no right way to care for a cat. Under the right circumstances, cats are able to live a happy, fulfilled life indoors. Their territory may be a little smaller, but it can be just as enriching.
House Cat Perks: Easier Pet Sitting
While pet owners can quickly get used to their cat’s preferred schedule, usual behaviours and general comings and goings, these things can be a little less obvious to a pet sitter. However regardless of the notes you leave, a cat sitter will not know for sure that your cat hasn’t run away if they aren’t in the house with them. For this reason, pet sitting tends to be a lot easier if the cat stays inside the house, rather than roaming the area at will.
If you do need to go somewhere and leave your cat with a sitter, be sure to take care of the following first:
- Make sure the sitter has your mobile number and any other contact numbers they can use to get in touch
- Make sure there is more than enough food to feed your cat for the duration of your trip
- Make sure you leave out any necessary medications with clear instructions, and that your sitter is comfortable administering them
- Leave the contact number for your vet
- Make sure there is enough cat litter to clean the tray as much as you normally would for the duration of your trip
- Let your vet know that you are going away and that X will be caring for your cat in your absence
Combating kitty boredom is vital if you want to keep your cats happy indoors. This can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Bring the outside world to your cat by providing them with viewpoints. Many cats are happy to watch without touching, so placing a bird feeder outside your window is a good way to show wildlife to your cat without putting your cat or the birds at risk. Their instincts may be to catch and kill the birds, but most cats will be happy just to observe.
- Give your cat plenty of attention. Your cat would have the opportunity to find their own amusement if they were roaming free outdoors, so it’s up to you to make up for that missing engagement. Your cat will want to play more often if they spend all their time indoors, as you are their only playmate. Cat toys can be a lot of fun for both of you.
- Set limits to preserve your home and sanity. It’s important to set limits to your cats’ indoor range so that your house isn’t converted into one big kitty play park. Latch doors between your pet and temptation if you want to keep them off your bed, out of the rubbish or away from the toilet.
- Have a variety of ways for your cats to exercise. You can build your own cat towers or buy them in any large pet shop. If you want a fun DIY project, building things for your cat to play on is always a hit.
For more information about our feline friends, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Cat Care or download our free ebook: How to Kill a Cat from our perfect-pets website. Perfect-Pets Books have a variety of books about our favourite furry friends, including Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Dachshunds. Becoming an animal expert has never been easier!