Indoor Cat vs. Outdoor Cat

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Have you ever wondered if your cat would prefer an indoor or outdoor life? Or which one would be best for you as a pet owner? Where you live can tip the scale in favor of one or the other. In this article we will examine the advantages and disadvantages to both indoor and outdoor lifestyles for your feline family member, and help you make the right decision as a pet owner.

Indoor cat playing

Advantages for Indoor Cats:

Many veterinarians and organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), agree that it is a smarter decision to keep cats indoors if you factor in the potential dangers that they may face outside. Indoor cats have a far less chance of getting injured or sick as a result of these outdoor hazards. Inside the home is a "safe spot" that provides you with the comfort and assurance that nothing can harm your cat. In fact, evidence has shown that indoor cats live substantially longer then their outdoor feline friends. Indoor cats can have an average lifespan reaching up to the ripe old age of 17 years old. Whereas outdoor cats live an average of just two to five years. Owners of indoor cats are often able to spot potential health issues on their feline family members, and get them the treatment they need before those issues become life threatening.

Disadvantages for Indoor Cats:

If you decide to keep your cat indoor, you have to pay special attention to your cat’s diet. Indoor cats tend to graze on an open bowl of food daily and beg for more when they polish off their snacks or meals. If your cat tends to eat, take a "cat nap" and repeat, this can lead to obesity and may predispose a cat to diabetes. Many indoor cats find themselves bored from either not having enough space to run around to fully stretch those legs or not having anything to burn off that energy. Indoor cats need toys, scratching posts and other items will help them to burn off those excess calories and expend their their daily energy. Indoor cats also tend to be pampered. This may pose an issue if the indoor cat suddenly finds itself facing an “outside danger” such as a larger dog. Without knowing how to properly react to such a situation the cat may become stressed.

Outdoor cat sitting in the grass

Advantages for Outdoor Cats:

Since outdoor cats obviously spend all their time running around outside, vets say that an active cat tends to be at the perfect ideal weight for their size compared to an indoor cat. Hours and hours of running around in the yard or jumping up on various object help keep the cat healthy and active. When cats live outside, they learn to adapt to their situation. They quickly learn how to fend for themselves and live without constant human attention. Another benefit for you as a cat owner, is that the litter box doesn't have to be as cleaned as often as the cats tend to do their business outside. If you decide to keep your cat outside, it's important to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your cat. There are many dangers your cat will face during the night-time (getting hit by a car or wild animals like coyotes) it's imperative that you bring your cat into a garage, house or any other secure shelter for the night. Another option is to build outdoor cat houses to keep your cats safe and protected day and night.

Disadvantages for Outdoor Cats:

Outdoor cats can contract diseases like feline leukemia (FeLV) and upper respiratory infections (uri). They will also be exposed to parasites such as like fleas, ticks and ear mites all of which may carry a wide array of bloodborne illnesses. As mentioned briefly above, your outdoor cat will also be exposed to a multitude of other dangers, including; wild animals and cars. Having a fenced in yard can significantly reduce these risks, however a fence will not be able to prevent every danger from entering your property. Outdoor cats can also be exposed to toxins and poisons that they may ingest or handle without your knowledge.

Final Statement:

Ultimately, the decision of whether to have an indoor or outdoor cat is up to you as a pet owner. Most vets will recommend keeping your cat indoors, but if you don’t want your cat to stay indoors, make sure they’re as safe as possible by keeping up with all scheduled vaccinations, parasite prevention, and bringing your outdoor cat indoors at night. Microchipping is another option for outdoor cats which involved implanting a chip between your cat’s shoulder blades. Identification can increase the odds that your cat will be returned to you if they happen to wander away.