Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats: Pros and Cons

Owning a cat is a wonderful thing, but there are many questions that need entertained before you can select your new friend and decide how they will live.  One such question is the environment that you will be able to provide for the cat.

There are 3 choices when it comes to the territory that you will allow your cat to explore: indoors, outdoors, and both.

The first, and most important, thing to keep in mind when considering where you will allow your new friend to find adventures is that the decision should be based on BOTH considerations for you and considerations for the cat.  There are definitely things that should be thought about from both sides of the relationship.

 Indoor Cats

Pros

Indoor cats certainly make great house pets, but there are some things that should be kept in mind for cats in this situation.  The most significant consideration for deciding between keeping a cat indoors versus allowing for them to venture outside is safety.  Indoors cats are obviously less likely to get into fights with other animals, have encounters with motor vehicles or other dangers, and contract fetal illnesses such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Your cat will need your help to get adequate exercise and maintain a healthy body condition which means lots of playtime!

Cons

Keeping a cat indoors at all times means they can become very dependent on its owners for stimulation, which can result in the cat being stressed during times of the owner’s absence and also a potential for the cat to be “clingy” when the owner is home. Additionally, even with proper environmental enrichment and scratching posts, some cats are still destructive to furniture.

Do’s
  • Provide adequate environmental enrichment (hunting games, hiding places, perches, toys, etc.) for exercise and mental stimulation
  • Keep a close eye on nutrition and body condition to avoid obesity
  • Interact with your cat daily
  • Invest in a couple of scratching posts. First, make sure you know if your cat likes to scratch vertically or horizontally or both.
Don’ts
  • Do not keep cats indoors with no interaction for long periods of time

Outdoor Cats

Pros

The outdoors allow for a much better environment for your cat to get adequate exercise.  Additionally, time outdoors can promote mental health as it gives a cat time to explore and keep their mind active.

Cons

Housing an outdoor cat means that you will have to be cautious about fleas both as a health concern for the cat and also with regard to fleas in your home.  Even with a flea product (such as a collar), without treating the environment, it can be difficult to keep fleas off of your cat. Even ‘occasional’ outdoor cats require additional healthcare and vaccines to protect against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), both of which are highly contagious and fetal.

Larimer County Law does say that in city limits all cats if outdoors must be on leash or in an enclosure of some sort.

Declawed Cats

Although also used for other purposes, a cat’s claws are their main way of defending themselves.  This needs considered in the discussion of indoor versus outdoor cats because it is not appropriate to allow a cat to have unsupervised outdoor time if they are fully declawed.

Do’s
  • Always consider the safety and health of the cat. Ensure your cat is properly vaccinated and receives annual check ups with a veterinarian
  • Ensure your cat wears a rabies, county license, and ID tag at all times
  • Understand that your cats survival instinct is to hide signs of illness or injury. Observe your cats behavior close and keep a watchful eye for signs for illness or injury. Click here to download 10 signs of Illness in Cats
Don’ts
  • Do not allow a cat to have unsupervised outdoor time if they are fully declawed
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