When I was little it was very common to see cats and dogs roaming freely in the cities and towns where they lived. An indoor cat was almost unheard of.
If you live in a big city or in an apartment with no outdoor space, it can be tempting to keep your pet indoors. On the other hand, if you allow your cat to roam freely, you will generate a series of dangers.
To help you make the decision, whether to let your cat go outside , I indicate the pros and cons of both positions:
Indoor cats versus outdoor cats
If you have a kitten or young cat, you may have to decide whether or not to give him the freedom to go out on his own.
On this issue the opinions are quite polarized, each of the parties thinks that their point of view is correct.
But it is a complex issue and deciding can be difficult.
I list some of the pros and cons for a cat depending on whether it lives at home or goes outside.
The benefits of living indoors for cats
In some parts of the world, cats are at risk from predators such as foxes, wolves, dogs, hawks, or eagles.
As for dogs, “enemies” closest to cats, most of them do not have the inclination or the ability to catch a healthy cat, although some dogs, such as greyhounds, can be a threat to cats .
You also avoid fights with other animals, as well as poisonous plants and insecticides.
Purebred cats also have a lower risk of being stolen.
You will control what your cat eats
When feeding at home, you will monitor their feeding, especially if you worry that your cat does not gain weight.
Putting a cat on a diet would be useless if it has access to the outdoors, because it will surely eat another cat’s food, or it will be provided by neighbors.
You will also avoid that by eating food from outside it is poisoned.
You will avoid getting more than one scare
Imagine that your neighbors inform you that they have just seen a cat that has been run over, can you imagine the scare? I see you running to check that your cat is home.
Less likely to get parasites
Being indoors, your pet will not meet other stray cats, which reduces the risk of contracting parasites or infectious diseases common to cats.
They will not be able to hunt
As predatory animals, cats instinctively hunt. Assuming your home is safe, indoor cats will not be able to kill and therefore bring home dead rats, mice, and other animals.
The problems of always having a cat indoors
Boredom in the cat
Indoor cats are prone to getting frustrated and bored. This can lead to the development of behavioral problems. To avoid this, make sure your cat is entertained during the day with toys and other engaging activities.
Increased sensitivity to changes in the environment
Most cats enjoy a certain level of stability in their environment. However, indoor cats can develop a greater sensitivity to change, becoming restless and irritable over small differences in the home.
When experiencing stressful situations, outdoor cats can go outside and find a place to shelter. Without access to the outdoors, indoor cats need a safe place inside your home to retreat. If your cat has to share the interior space with other cats or animals, this can generate a greater sense of stress.
The benefits of going outside for cats
I think there is little doubt that cats that enjoy freedom, can hunt, climb, run and even satisfy their curiosity by exploring their neighborhood.
There is also no doubt that exercise is beneficial for them. It is very difficult to have this level of activity within the home.
Indoor cats often have no way of manifesting their natural instinctual behaviors such as foraging for food, hiding from predators, and scratching. The stress of this lifestyle can manifest itself in a number of ways on your health.
Cats that are allowed outside may be at lower risk for this and other problems that can be exacerbated by stress.
No poop at home
If the cat goes outside, it is more likely that its “things” are done outside. In my case, my cat opts for both options: sometimes on the street where we put her litter box and others on the street but always in her box. It is very clean never does it on the garden floor.
Less behavior problems
In general, experts agree that animals do best when they can carry out their natural behavior. In cats, this includes scratching, climbing, stalking, and spraying.
In outdoor cats, these behaviors do not normally become a problem.
House cats can sometimes express such behavior indoors and the owner may need help to redirect this behavior more appropriately.
Keeping indoor cats entertained with toys, activities, and cat trees can help reduce problems caused by a lack of mental stimulation.
You avoid keeping the windows in your house closed
Most people who have indoor cats need to keep windows permanently closed or with screens that are not aesthetic and prevent air renewal.
With a cat that you let out, you don’t have to worry about the door or window being left open. Since I have a garden in summer, we leave the kitchen door open to let in heat and in this way my cat can also go outside.
Disadvantages of your cat going outside
A cat can get sick from going outside
There are many diseases that cats can get from coming into contact with other felines. The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is spread through bites and scratches in infected cats.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is another serious disease that can be transmitted through saliva and close contact with sick cats.
When going outside, cats are also at risk of contracting rabies, as well as parasites (such as fleas, ticks, lungworms, and tapeworms) and fungi (such as ringworm).
The impact of cats on the environment
Cats are predators. Even a well-fed house cat will hunt birds and other small animals for sport.
It’s no wonder that environmentalists are concerned about the impact that house cats have on ecosystems.
They could be poisoned
A cat outdoors is exposed to a variety of substances, some of which are deadly. Antifreeze is a real danger. Ingesting antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death, even in a healthy cat.
There are other harmful substances that a cat can come into contact with, such as pesticides and chemicals. There are even plants that are poisonous to cats.
Measures to take if your cat goes outside
If you decide to let him out, there are many ways to help him and make sure he gets home safe and sound:
- Neutering: Unneutered male cats are more likely to roam busy paths and are more likely to fight.
- Keep them indoors at night: This is a good measure because cats are more likely to have accidents during hours of darkness.
- Give him time to get used to his surroundings. If you just moved into a house or if you have a young cat, give him time to make a “mind map” of the surroundings before allowing him more freedom.
- Put on a reflective “quick release collar”.
- Keep your cat in sight – There are fences designed to help cat owners keep their pets in their yard and GPS collars so you can locate them at any time
- Microchip – This will help ensure that your cat is returned to you if it goes missing or is injured.
As you can see, this is not a topic with a definitive answer.
There are a variety of different opinions both for keeping cats indoors and for allowing cats access to the wider world.
If your cat has to be on a diet, or if you want to train him using food, you will have to keep him in the home, at least for a time.
Living near a busy road can also force you to keep your cat at home.
If your cat is a beautiful or valuable breed, you should be aware of the risk of theft. Especially if it is the type of cat that approaches strangers.
On the other hand, if indoor life is stressful for your cat and she suffers from skin problems or other stress-related behaviors, leaving her outside may be a necessity.
No one better than you to make this decision, and it is certainly a difficult decision.
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