In general, a cat that spends his entire life indoors will live many years longer than a cat restricted exclusively to the outdoors or even an indoor/outdoor kitty. Also, weather conditions can change very rapidly, and mild weather can turn stormy and cold. This can put your kitty in danger of hyperthermia. Any cat that goes outdoors can be at risk due to the reasons listed in this article.
- Indoor Cats Won’t Get Struck by Vehicles: The outdoor cat is always at risk of being struck by a vehicle. Even the most supposedly “street savvy” feline can become distracted while in pursuit of prey or while being chased by another cat or a dog.
- The Risk of Poisoning is Reduced: Outdoors cats are at risk of exposure to ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning, lawn pesticides, poisoning from spoiled food in trash cans, mole and rodent poisons and intentional poisoning from people. Even though there’s a risk of poisoning in an indoor environment as well, you’re better able to remove toxic plants, toxic chemicals and other dangers in order to keep them out of your cat’s reach.
- There are No Animal Fights: It’s not unusual for an outdoor cat to become injured or develop a painful and serious abscess from fighting with another cat, dog or other outdoor animal. Even if you have your cat neutered or spayed, there are many intact cats roaming outside that will fight to defend their territory. At the very least, these territorial battles result in abscessed wounds, which can be deadly if not treated in time. There’s also the chance, of course, of cats contracting FIV from deep bite wounds.
- There is a Decreased Risk of Parasites: The chances of your cat becoming infested with fleas, ticks or internal worms will be greatly reduced if he remains in an indoor environment because he won’t be coming in contact with infected feces, prey, grass, or soil.
- There is No Danger to Your Cat from Predators: Cats are potential prey to some dogs and if you live in certain areas of the country they are also at risk of being attacked by coyotes or even owls. In fact, coyotes are quite common in our area. Outdoor cats are below wildlife predators in the food chain, and they are sitting ducks for owls, raptors, coyotes, and native big cats. Dogs running in packs will consider a cat fair game; even one large dog can easily overpower and kill a cat.
- You are Better Able to Control Food Sources and Intake: With an indoor cat you can control what he eats and how much he consumes each day. If your cat goes outdoors you have no idea whether he’s munching on some cheap food left out on a neighbor’s back porch for the local stray cats. Also, by eating from that same food bowl he will also be at risk of contracting disease.
- There is No Risk of Cruelty Toward Your Cat: If your cat goes outdoors, your beloved pet may become the victim of a cat-hating neighbor or mean people who think it’s fun to abuse a helpless animal. Freely-roaming cats are easy targets for gangs of youths with time on their hands, for cat-haters, who seek cats out for target practice, and for neighbors who would think nothing of killing a cat for trespassing on their property.
- You’ll Always Know Where Your Cat is: If your cat is indoors, there’s a greatly reduced risk of him getting lost or stolen. As outdoor cats widen their outdoor territories, they may become lost long enough to be “rescued” by other cat lovers, legitimate rescue groups, or picked up by animal control as strays. Statistics show that only 3% of owned cats are eventually reunited with their owners. Harnesses and collars can break, and even microchips do not guarantee a cat will not be adopted and kept as an indoor cat by someone else. Even a cat that goes briefly goes outside can run away or get injured.
- You can Monitor Your Cats Health: With an indoor cat you can easily monitor what is or isn’t happening in the litter box. The early detection of any change in your cat’s litter box habits could save your cat’s life.
- You’ll be a Better Neighbor: Not everyone wants a cat peeing in their garden, stalking the backyard bird feeder or lounging on the car in their driveway. In most cases, your neighbors will be happier knowing your cat is quietly watching the outdoor activity from inside the house. Even “well-bred” cats will venture into neighbors’ yards when allowed to roam free, and the resultant neighborhood discord has in some cases caused cat owners to move. People who don’t like cats will not tolerate cats using their gardens as litter boxes, and will sometimes resort to extreme measures to keep the cats out. At the very least, a neighbor may call the local animal control to pick up the “stray” cat.
In conclusion, please keep your kitty indoors to ensure that your cat lives a long and healthy life. Make sure that your cat is stimulated by toys and can safely watch the outdoors from a window inside your home.