Considering letting your cat live as an outdoor cat? Read this first.
For those of you cat parents out there, I’m sure you’ve had an internal debate at some point in time about whether or not you should let your cat outside or keep them in doors. As many cats often spend their time staring out the window, or eager to try to sneak out the door every time it’s opened, it may seem like your feline friends would prefer life in the great outdoors.
While it is true that your cat may enjoy spending time outside, what you may not realize is that they are much better off indoors. In fact, allowing your cat to roam around outside as they please can actually put them at great risk. According to this article on paws.org, the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 2 to 3 years, while an indoor-only cat can enjoy life anywhere from 15-20 years. Speaking as a cat owner myself, I think it’s safe to say that we all would prefer for our cats to have longer, healthier lives!
So, when thinking about this age-old debate on whether or not to let your cat outside, here are a few reasons you should consider keeping them indoors:
They are safe from diseases, and other ailments, in the comfort of your home.
When roaming around outside, your cat will inevitably come into contact with other outdoor cats, which could easily spread a number of illnesses. That includes serious (and often fatal) diseases like Feline Leukemia (FeLV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Other cats can share parasites, ringworm and other kinds of infections, too.
In addition to catching an illness from another cat, your cat can easily pick them up from the mice that they’re hunting and bringing home to you. And, if your cat is spending a lot of time outside, that makes it harder for you to monitor your cat’s health and know when something is wrong.
Cats get cold, too!
Especially with the looming winter weather here in Ohio, it’s very important that your cat stays indoors where you know they are warm! Many humans don’t like being out in the cold – and, our cats don’t either! They risk freezing to death, or suffering from severe hypothermia and/or frostbite, if they spend too much time outdoors in the winter. Just like humans, they don’t enjoy being cold and stuck outside in the snow.
Keeping cats indoors prevents them from getting hit by oncoming cars.
According to earthcaretaker.com, more cats are killed by cars (5.4 million) than in U.S. animal shelters each year. While most cats are pretty fast, it’s impossible to guarantee that your cat will be safe from oncoming traffic when left to roam around outside.
Outdoor cats risk harm from wild animals and not-so-kind humans.
Other animals pose a major risk to outdoor cats. Whether they encounter owls, coyotes or even stray or neighborhood dogs, keeping your cat indoors prevents them from an attack and ensures that they are safe from these dangers.
And while, you may love your cat (and animals in general) there are people out there who do not share the same opinions. Cats roaming around the area are easy targets for groups of youths with too much time on their hands, for cat-haters who have no problem using your cat for target practice or selling them to an abusive owner, or for vicious neighbors who will easily remove your cat from their yard whatever way they can. It’s hard to imagine people who could abuse animals, but it’s important to consider the next time you’re thinking of letting your cat go outside.
Keeping your cat indoors may require a lifestyle change for them, if they are used to going outside regularly. Luckily, there are several things that you can do to make sure that they are happy and healthy indoors:
- Make sure they get plenty of exercise – You can do this by playing with them, and giving them with interactive toys, climbing towers and scratching posts to use when you’re not around.
- Keep your cat stimulated with various types of toys that allow them to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. Try switching their toys around every now and then to keep it interesting for them.
- Place perches or towers near a window so that your cat can enjoy the sunlight, and see what’s going on outside from the safety of your home.
- Provide a screened-in porch or other enclosure in which they can safely enjoy the outdoors.
- Leash train your cats so that you can take them on supervised strolls around the neighborhood, and protect them from any potential danger.
Next time you’re considering letting your cat go outside, please consider the reasons outlined above. It may seem like your cat would be happier outside, but in the end they will be much safer and live longer, healthier lives in the comfort of your home!