INDOOR VS OUTDOOR CATS. WHICH CHOICE WILL HELP YOUR CAT LIVE A LONGER AND HAPPIER LIFE?
Indoor vs outdoor cats. Whenever the discussion turns towards cats, there are two camps. The first says that cats love being outside, and should have the freedom to remain outdoors. The second says that cats are domestic animals and should remain indoors. Then there are the half and halfers who have indoor/outdoor cats. Which is really the best choice for the animal, and for their owners?
OUTDOOR CATS FACE MANY DANGERS
There are many wild animals who find cats the perfect prey. Small, and apparently tasty, cats can become victims of foxes, coyotes, and dogs. Particularly small cats can and are carried off by hawks. Even raccoons have been known to eat domestic cats. Keeping your cat indoors can protect them from a sudden and nasty death.
Outdoor cats are bound to come in contact with feral cats at one time or another. Feral cats, unless in a TNR colony, do not have vaccinations. Often sick, usually with upper respiratory infections, ferals can pass along all sorts of illnesses to their domestic brothers. Even if your cat is vaccinated, they can still pick up nasty bugs.
If you’re considering allowing your cat to spend some of it’s time outside, please make sure she’s current on all her shots. And keep an eye open for symptoms of illness so you can get her to the vet in time.
Unneutered male cats can travel for miles towards the scent of a female in heat. This is one reason why it is so important to spay and neuter your cats. And cats can and do wander for reasons other than mating. Once they’ve wandered far from home, they’ll usually hole up under an outbuilding or someone’s house. Then fear takes hold and they won’t come when called. Losing a cat in this way is difficult for an owner, since they’ll rarely know what happened to their pet.
Cats kill birds. There’s really no argument here, but the number is highly debated. Even conservative estimates, though, count the number in the billions. Outdoor cats, of course, are the culprits here. This causes a lot of friction between bird lovers and cat lovers. Bird lovers tend to want to euthanize feral cats; while cat lovers pour their hearts and souls into TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) for cat colonies.
Although this is controversial, TNR, which includes caretakers continuing to feed the cats, drastically limits the numbers of birds killed. There is little need to hunt when you’re being fed.
If you enjoy birds at your bird feeders, or just hearing them on a summer morning, keep your cats indoors. They’ll be able to watch them through the windows, and you’ll enjoy their songs.
WHAT ABOUT INDOOR/OUTDOOR CATS?
CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THIS MAY WORK
Although the safest and healthiest life for a cat is indoors, there are locations and circumstances when indoor/outdoor becomes an option.
If you live on a farm, for example, and have plenty of land between you and the nearest road, indoor/outdoor is possible. Please make sure to feed your indoor/outdoor cats daily, and bring them in when it’s dark. Most of the predators that attack cats (other than hawks and dogs) are nocturnal, and your fur babies will be safer inside at night.
A caveat here – don’t ever allow a declawed cat outside. She has had her defenses taken away, and she won’t be able to protect herself. If you adopted a declawed cat, keep her safe by keeping her inside.
HOW CAN I MAKE SURE MY INDOOR ONLY CAT IS HAPPY?
SOLUTIONS FOR RESTLESS CATS
Many owners feel sorry for making their cats remain indoors. But the dangers listed above should be enough to convince most that the benefits outweigh the consequences. Remember, cats are domestic animals.
They would not exist in their current form were it not for humans. And they’re quite happy with a sunny windowsill, a comfy cat bed, and regular meals. Although they may look longingly outdoors, they’re not equipped for a purely outdoor lifestyle.
A WINDOW SEAT
One of the ways to allow your cat to enjoy watching the outdoors without subjecting him to the dangers is to put a place for him to lay in a sunny window. For extra amusement, you could put a bird feeder within view. Some cats will lay for hours in a bright window.
If you’re handy, and want a cool project, you can build your pet a “catio”. This allows them to be outside, without running loose. Some catios have trees in them for the cats to climb. Others have tunnels for play. During warmer weather, you can add a cat door, so that they can go in and out as they please. For plans to make a “catio” of your own, check out these sites:
BRINGING AN OUTDOOR CAT INSIDE
If you’ve adopted a cat which is not feral, but has always lived outside, it is possible to transition her to an indoor cat. You’ll need, time, patience, and a separate room where she can stay for the first few weeks. Transitioning into a home will be very new to her.
WHAT SHOULD A FORMER OUTDOOR CAT HAVE IN HER SAFE ROOM?
The room should have a simple litter box, a cat tree or two, and a few hiding spots. Indoors is completely new to her and she’ll probably spend many hours just hiding and watching. By all means, go in and sit with your new arrival. Get a toy with a long handle and let her enjoy playing while keeping her distance from you. Expose her, slowly, to the normal sounds of the house, and let her explore her room at her pace.
Your new indoor cat will hide a lot at first.
When she’s comfortable enough in her room to interact with you, and she doesn’t startle at every sound, it’s time to slowly introduce her to the rest of the house. Be careful during this time, as she may bolt through an open door given the chance. Make sure she’s in her safe room whenever no one is home, and at night, so she doesn’t get into trouble. In most instances, you’ll have a content indoor cat within a few weeks. Others may take a bit longer, but all cats will eventually make the transition.
KEEP YOUR CATS HEALTHY AND SAFE – KEEP THEM INDOORS
The evidence is overwhelming that the indoor life is the best one for the cats we love. And it gives you the chance to bond even more closely with him. Bringing your feline inside will make you both happier and more attached to each other.