To keep your kitty inside no matter what or to let them out? This has been an ongoing debate for quite some time now and most people feel pretty strongly one way or the other.
Some think it’s cruel to go against a cat’s nature by keeping them indoors all the time; others think it’s absolutely too dangerous to ever let domestic cats outside. There are, of course, valid arguments for both sides of the topic. Keeping your kitty healthy is always of the utmost importance, so you should definitely keep that in mind when debating on whether or not to let them go out.
Here we are listing the pros and cons, so please consider all the information carefully before deciding if your cat will ultimately be an indoor kitty, an outdoor kitty, or she will have a mix of the best of both worlds.
Safety Risks Associated With Outdoor Cats
When weighing the benefits and risks of letting your cat out, the scales tip pretty severely one way. Here is a simplified breakdown of what your cat is up against when going outside.
- Disease spreads rampantly within the cat community. Feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) are among the biggest threats to cats’ health. These diseases can be passed easily and are often fatal. Various diseases are also spread by cats killing and eating mice and other small animals.
- Parasites that cats can easily pick up outside include, fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms and ringworm. While not implicitly fatal, they can easily spread to your family and throughout your home. Symptoms range from skin infections to vomiting and diarrhea.
- People, sadly, can also pose a huge threat to outside cats. While it’s easy to think cats have an inherent sense to stay away from traffic, they actually do not, and are often hit and killed by cars. They also are lured to the sweet smell of antifreeze, they fall into traps set for wild animals.
- Cats are also often the victims of animal cruelty and have been for years. Everything from the basic bb gun to bow and arrow target practice up to torture and death have been widely recorded. Something that is often dismissed as urban legend is pet theft. When you let your cat out you leave them subject to being “kit-napped” and subjected to any number of horrors.
- Cats who have been declawed do not fare well outdoors. Claws are an essential mechanism to protect your cat from harm and without them, they are highly susceptible to other animals and people.
Tips to Keep in Mind for Outdoor Cats
Once you have read and pondered all these points, and you decide you do want to take your cat outside, please consider the following options to keep her safe and healthy.
- Make sure your kitty is up to date on all her vaccinations. Because feline diseases are so contagious, it would be easy for your pet to catch something outside even in a designated area.
- Consider a privacy fence around your yard with cat-proof fencing at the top. This will keep your cat in a designated area that you can better control. Ideally this keeps other cats out, as well. You can also try a cat enclosure for your yard.
- If you choose to leash-walk your cat, be patient with the training process. Make sure you use an appropriate harness and give her a chance to be comfortable with it.
Keeping Indoor Cats Happy
If you decide that indoor life is best for you and your feline, there are many things you can do to ensure that their life is just as fulfilling inside as it can be outdoors.
By nature, your finicky feline is genetically meant to prowl and hunt whatever small creatures they can find. The fact is, however, cats have been living with people for 12,000 years, and essentially domesticated themselves when they began hunting mice and seeking refuge in grain storage buildings. Keeping your fluffy feline in the house can actually be all fun and games if you follow these guidelines.
- Provide challenging toys that encourage them to stalk, “attack” and kick. This helps satisfy their innate urges to hunt without actually leaving you little dead things around the house.
- Install a window perch, get a nice big cat tree, and strategically place scratching posts throughout the home. Chances are, your cat loves to nap in the sun, climb up high, and keep her nails nice and sharp. These obstacles are sure to keep your kitty entertained for hours on end.
- Fresh cat grass is perfectly safe for your kitty and is a great treat from Mother Nature. You can grow a patch of it or simply keep some in the window sill.
Striking a Balance
There is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to whether or not you let your cat wander outside or not. Knowing your neighborhood and the personality of your cat are both key in finding the purr-fect balance (yes, purr-fect).
Hopefully, you have found these tips to be helpful and you and your kitty will have a long, healthy and happy life together!
Lead image source: Ella Mullins/Flickr