Should Cats be Allowed Outside or Kept Inside?
Cats are naturally inquisitive and love being outdoors.
Keeping a cat poses a conundrum for any feline fanatic. While it's universally accepted that as natural born hunters and adventurers, cats need to spend time outside, there are also risks involved when allowing a cat to roam the great outdoors. What do you do - allow your cats their freedom for a better quality of life, or keep them indoors where you can be assured of their safety?
The Pros & Cons of Keeping a Cat Indoors or Outdoors
Reasons to allow cats outside include:
- More exercise and therefore better physical health and less likelihood to become overweight.
- "Social contact - Outdoor cats can have social stimulation if they want to interact with other cats in the area".
- Greater range of intellectual and sensory stimulation is available in an open environment.
- "We would not recommend keeping a cat that is used to going outside, as an 'indoor-only cat', unless it is for health reasons."
- Opportunity to act out behavioral needs and thus reduce the risks of stress and behavioral problems.
- Less likely to become frustrated and bored, also leading to behavioral problems.
Are these indoor cats dreaming of being outside, or are they happy to be cozy and warm?
Reasons to keep cats indoors include:
- Less chance of injury from traffic or other animals.
- "Allowing your cats to roam outdoors can significantly shorten their lives."
- Open outdoor environments may be stressful for small or timid cats.
- "Loose cats are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of birds each year."
- Reduced exposure to illness, disease and infestation from other cats, insects, plants and fleas.
- "Loss - Cats can sometimes get shut in garages or are driven away in cars or vans they have climbed into. They may even move in with someone else."
Kittywalk enclosures let cats play outdoors without the need of constant supervision.
How Can I Let My Cat Play Outdoors Safely?
It is possible to let your cat to safely enjoy the great outdoors. The more precautions you take the safer you'll make an outdoor environment for your cat.
How Can I Keep My Cat Happy as an Indoor Cat?
- "Ensure that your cat is vaccinated against all infectious diseases it is possible to cover."
- Make sure your cat wears a collar with your phone number on it. Also ensure the collar has a safety catch so it will not get trapped on anything.
- "Make sure an adult supervises your kitty's outdoor time to ensure strays cannot come into contact with her."
- Construct a 'catio' area or purchase a play area containment system such as Kittywalk [http://www.petstreetmall.com/KittyWalk-Cat-Enclosures/4878.html]. Both will allow your cat to play outdoors without any supervision.
Because your cat won't have any interaction with other animals or people, it will turn to you as its primary source of social contact. You'll have to spend time interacting with it and don't leave it alone for long periods.
- Keep exterior doors and windows closed to prevent escape.
- "An indoor environment can become predictable and boring, and can lead to stress, inactivity and obesity. So it's important that you provide your cat with everything it needs."
- Ensure your cat gets plenty of exercise and maintains a balanced diet - don't overdo it with the treats.
- "Provide your indoor cat with a variety of different interactive toys to keep them physically and mentally stimulated."
- Give your cat lots of space to roam around.
- Keep litter trays clean and regularly scooped.
By John Bone
 Feline Advisory Bureau, http://www.fabcats.org/owners/safety/inorout/info.html
 Humane Society of America, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/bringing_outside_cat_indoors.html
 RSPCA, http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/cats/environment/indoors
 American Humane Association, http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/caring-for-your-pet/ind oor-cats-vs-outdoor-cats.html