These days, we see far too many Facebook and Instagram posts from people asking for help to find their lost cats. Sadly, many of these cats will never return home.
A large number of pet parents allow their cats unsupervised access to the outdoors on a part- or full-time basis. But this opens those cats up to many dangers lurking outside that can harm — or even kill — our beloved felines. It’s no wonder the ASPCA recommends keeping your cat indoors if at all possible.
In a bid to keep our cats safe, here’s a step-by-step guide to why you should consider making your cat an indoor cat.
The Many Common Dangers For Outdoor Cats
Common outdoor dangers for cats include:
- Other felines who may be aggressive or not spayed/neutered
- Dangerous wildlife like owls and coyotes
- Cruel people, especially around holidays like Halloween
- Poisons like pesticides, antifreeze, and other chemicals
- Toxic or hazardous trash
- Pet thieves
Injuries Outdoor Cats May Suffer
Cats who are allowed outdoors may fight with other cats and wind up injured. They may get wounds or abscesses that can cause serious infections if not treated.
Some outdoor cats might also catch communicable diseases. Plus, cats might be chased by dogs up trees or onto rooftops and then get too scared to come home.
There are any number of illnesses or physical injuries that can happen to cats when they’re outside. It’s a rough world!
The Human Danger Factor
Unfortunately, humans do exist who will hurt and torture cats or even attempt to poison them. Others don’t want cats on their property and feel justified in hurting animals they find on their land.
Some people will also steal cats in order to either get a free pet or to sell to someone else. Others use cats as bait to train dogs in dog fighting rings. Every year, there are reports of people using cats in cruel rituals or practices, especially around superstitious holidays like Halloween.
While you love cats and would never intentionally harm one, not everyone is so kindhearted and caring toward helpless animals, unfortunately. Keep that in mind when you decide whether to let your cat out in public where strangers abound.
Why Is There Opposition To Indoor Cats?
Despite the mounting dangers, some people will still insist that outdoor cats are totally fine. In doing so, they usually bring up the case of a fabled outdoor feline they had a long time ago who lived to be 20 years old.
Of course, these cases exist. However, according to the ASPCA, outdoor cats generally die earlier than indoor cats. The organization isn’t alone in recommending an indoor cat lifestyle: Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine also warns about the many dangers and extra hazards that outdoor cats face.
The World’s A Litter Box
One reason people let cats out is to avoid having a litter box in the house. But while a litter box may never be a thing of beauty, a well maintained litter box doesn’t have to be obvious or obnoxious in the house.
In fact, a litter box should be looked at as a safety feature for cats: With access to a litter box, your cat doesn’t need to go outside to do their business. You might also be able to monitor potential health issues by observing your cat’s deposits in the box.
Do Cats Need To Be Outdoors To Be Truly Happy?
Some people insist that cats need to be outside to live happy lives, but this is untrue.
Cats may enjoy roaming the garden and hunting, but think of your cat as a toddler: There are a lot of things cats would love to do, but it is our responsibility as their human guardians to keep them safe and say no.
You wouldn’t let a three-year-old cross the block on their own or jump into the pool without knowing how to swim, right?
Indoor Cats Need Stimulation!
If you’re committed to giving your cat a safe, indoor lifestyle, just make sure to provide variety and stimulation through toys, companions, access to windows to gaze out of, and perhaps even a catio.
Make sure they get enough exercise. Providing your cat with a puzzle feeder can help them get a mental workout at meal time. You might want to try scattering your cat’s food around the room or place it up high so they get a chance to “hunt” and climb. This will help keep them active, fight boredom, and reduce unwanted behaviors.
Do you think cats should stay indoors or be allowed to roam outside? How do you keep your indoor cat active and happy? Sound off in the comments below!