The Pros and Cons of Outdoor Cats

If you have a cat and feel they should be allowed outdoors, there are some important pros and cons you should be aware of to keep your feline friend as safe as possible! There are also alternatives to having an outdoor cat because, in reality, the best way to keep your cat safe is by making them an indoor cat, which isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Pros

1) Your cat will get enough exercise!

One of the most important aspects of any animals’ life is the amount of exercise they get. Exercise keeps them active, healthy, in good shape and a good mood. Cats love running around, chasing other animals, jumping up onto things and climbing trees. Being an outdoor cat is great for all of these purposes and gives them fresh air while doing it.

Safe alternative:

A great alternative to letting your cat run around would be equipping your home with plenty of toys to keep them active. This can include battery powered toys for chasing, high shelves to jump and perch on, tall scratching posts, and cat jungle gyms or towers. Playing with them every day will give them the exercise they need and love. Another opportunity to work out your kitty outside is by taking them on walks. Cats may be awkward at first on a leash, but proper training and practice will lead to fun walks through nature.

2) Their instincts can be let loose!

Felines are natural born predators . This means they love chasing and hunting, which is done most easily outdoors. With wide open areas and things to chase, such as lizard, rodents and birds, your cat will have a blast outdoors. However, this can be dangerous for other wildlife, and there are alternatives for indoor cats.

Safe alternative:

If you’d rather keep your cat safe indoors, as well as other species, consider some options for indoor predation instincts. Hiding treats in interesting places around the house will let your cat have the feeling of a great find when searching for the treat. Using toys that look like small animals for them to sneak up on can give them the same thrill. There is also the option of bringing another kitty friend home to hide from and playfully surprise attack.

3) They will get additional stimulation!

There is a big possibility your furry friend will get bored indoors. Cats love stimulating sights, smells and sounds. Running outside lets cats satisfy their curious tendencies. They get the experience of living wild and free, while still having a loving home of shelter and food to come back to. Still, there are a multitude of options for keeping your cat stimulated without letting them run entirely free.

Safe alternative:

If your home has a balcony or porch, these are perfect spots to let your kitty hang out. It gives them the ability to be outside in good weather, watching creatures run around, while in the safety of a closed or some-what isolated area. If you don’t have either, there are cat play pens with netting that you can put in your backyard for your cat to play in. If an outdoor area isn’t an option at all, window perches are a great way to let your cat get a birds-eye-view of the outdoors. Opening the window to let them sit near the screen would let them catch the breeze too!

Cons

4) Their life expectancy may be lower

If you love your furry friend dearly and want them to live the longest and fullest life possible, consider keeping them indoors. While indoor cats can live an average of 17 years, outdoor cats have a life expectancy of approximately 3 or less years.

The reason for this is because cats running around outdoors are much more prone to injury or illness by many different factors. Cars are the highest killer of cats. At night, and even during the day, if a cat decides to bolt across the road some people either won’t see them or won’t care to slow down. During cold weather, there should be no surprise in finding a kitty curled up inside a car to keep warm, which can seriously injure or kill them. Cruel people play a big role in their deaths as well because stray cats can be seen as a nuisance if they’re digging in a yard or meowing loudly by someone’s door. Lastly, other wild animals pose a threat if they are territorial or simply aggressive in general. These animals can include, but aren’t limited to, raccoons, dogs, foxes, coyotes, and other cats.

Temperature plays a big role in outdoor cat safety as well. Aside from cats keeping warm in cars during the winter, they also have the potential of getting hypothermia and frost bite. On the other hand, if it’s extremely hot outside, your cat can overheat, have a heatstroke or heat exhaustion, along with becoming dehydrated.

Let’s not forget about poisons too! There are many poisons littered throughout neighborhoods, some purposefully and some accidental. People treat their lawns with pesticides, they also put out rat poison, and other substances, such as antifreeze, fertilizer, and compost bins, which can all affect your little one. Even if poisonous items are thrown away, cats can still manage their way into trash bins.

5) Your cat is more likely to get lost, trapped, or picked up as a stray

If you have a precious feline, you know just how curious they can be. Cats love to explore and venture into unknown places. This can include garages, abandoned houses or buildings, other people’s back yards, and much more. With all the opportunity of unfamiliar territory, it’s easy for a cat to get lost, especially if a bigger and more aggressive animal chases it off. There is also the possibility of them getting trapped in a closing garage, or anywhere they were able to squeeze inside of, but maybe can’t get back out.

Additionally, if your cat doesn’t wear a collar when it roams the streets, people will most likely think it’s a stray. This can lead to them capturing your cat in an attempt to neuter, spay or turn them into a shelter, unless said person wants a new pet and accidentally steals your cat. These are common occurrences and might lead to euthanasia or relocation if you’re not careful.

6) Your cat is more likely to get sick

Not only can cats get fleas, ticks and mites, which will be brought into your home, but they also can get parasites, rabies, worms and more. Some diseases spread by contact include feline AIDS (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), Feline Distemper (FPV), Toxoplasma gondii, and upper respiratory infections. Feline leukemia virus is one of the most common cat diseases and can be spread through almost all bodily secretions. Feline distemper is a contagious and deathly disease among cats, and, like FIP, is not possible to test.  Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite spread by cats, which can cause neurological, reproductive and even respiratory problems in humans, cats and other wildlife.

If you want to allow your cat to be outdoors, make sure to implement these safety measures first!

1. Spay or neuter your cat!

If you decide to let your cat be an outdoor cat, you should make sure they are spayed or neutered beforehand. Neglecting to do so can result in your female cat getting pregnant or your male cat running around, bestowing the neighborhood females with litters. With the stray cat overpopulation already being so high, it’s best to avoid this with the procedure.

2. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar and is microchipped

Cats without collars, as stated before, may be seen as strays. To avoid this, giving your kitty a collar with a tag containing your name, phone number, and address will show they have a home already. Adding a bell allows you an easier time tracking them if they are missing, as well as giving warning to wildlife we wish to preserve, such as birds, before they’re preyed on. Break away collars are advised in case your kitty climbs up a high tree and the collar gets caught or is trying to escape an enemy. Always invest in a microchip too which a vet can scan to reveal your name, address and phone number for further contact.

3. Check your cat regularly

Examining your cat once it comes home is very important. A thorough exam can reveal any painful bumps or scratches, which can lead to viruses and diseases. You can also discover ticks and fleas. Prevention for these aspects includes making sure your furry friend is always up to date on vaccines and is using flea and tick medication.

No matter what choice you make for your cat, taking the safety precautions will benefit you and help your cat lead a longer and healthier life. Always keep their best interest in mind when considering an indoor or outdoor cat. There are many alternatives to creating a fun indoor space for them that is much safer than the outdoors!

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