Debating Keeping Your Cat Indoors, Or Letting Them Outside Sometimes?

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Cats love the great outdoors. But humane associations agree that an indoor life is far healthier for them — they’re safe from outdoor hazards, and their people tend to pay closer attention to them and notice signs of health problems earlier. The upshot? A much longer life span. An all-indoor cat lives an average of 10 to 14 years, whereas a cat who’s allowed to roam is likely to survive just two to five years (they may live longer, depending on where you live).

The one absolute law when making the indoor-outdoor decision: Declawed kitties should be kept inside. (We don’t recommend that you ever declaw a cat but sometime people adopt cats that are already declawed.) Declawed cats can’t defend themselves from dogs, other cats, or predators, making the outdoors even riskier. But if your kitty’s got his claws and you’re still on the fence about whether to let him outdoors, here’s what to consider.

Indoor Cats: Benefits

Indoor Cats Won’t:

  • Get hit by a car
  • Get lost
  • Be attacked by dogs, other cats, and predators
  • Eat poison left out by unthinking or malicious neighbors
  • Pick up parasites like fleas and ticks
  • Catch diseases spread by other cats

Outdoor Cats: Drawbacks and Benefits

Cats Outside Enjoy:

  • More exercise
  • More stimulation from the outside world
  • The pleasure of fresh air and sunshine

But There Are More Downsides With Outdoor Cats:

  • Getting hit by cars
  • Getting lost
  • Attack by dogs, other cats, or predators
  • Poison left out by unthinking or malicious neighbors
  • Parasites like fleas and ticks
  • Diseases spread by other cats

Safety Tips For Outdoor Cats:

Your best bet is to build a large enclosure in your yard where your cat can enjoy being outside, watch birds and squirrels, and do some climbing, yet be safe from all the risks of the outdoors. You can find ready-made enclosures at Kittywalk systems or Wild Whiskers. Also take a look at the “catio“-like enclosures.

If you want to let your cat enjoy the whole yard, you can install special fencing to keep him safely enclosed, such as the Purrfect Fence or Cat Fence-In.

If you let your cat roam outside, microchip him for identification and outfit him with a reflective, breakaway collar and current identification tags.

Keeping An Indoor Cat Entertained

To liven up an indoor cat’s environment, give him access to at least two of the following:

  • A floor-to-ceiling cat post for his climbing pleasure
  • At least one windowside perch that gives him a view of a bird feeder or other outdoor wildlife
  • An aquarium that he can enjoy watching but not fall into
  • Interactive toys that require him to use his brain and his physical skills to acquire treats
  • Daily playtime, petting, and training
  • A tall, heavy-duty scratching post that allows him to stretch, sharpen his claws, and leave his signature scent from the glands in his paws

Bottom Line:

Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives, but if you want to let your kitty outside, there are safer ways to do it.