Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats: Things to Consider
It’s a topic that cat owners (and their neighbours) have debated for years: should a cat live strictly indoors, or should they be allowed to spend time outside?
There’s a simple answer: indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than outdoor cats—especially those who spend all their time outside such as barn cats and feral cats. That’s why Kenmount Road Animal Hospital recommends keeping your cat(s) indoors.
Potential Dangers for Outdoor Cats
- Vehicular accidents. Cats who spend lots of time outside are more likely to be hit (and possibly killed) by a vehicle than indoor cats. This is even more likely if you live near a busy road.
- Unwanted pregnancies. Too many cats who aren’t spayed or neutered are let outside, resulting in more kittens than there are homes. Please help control the pet population!
- Fights with other cats and animals. If not detected early, bite and scratch wounds can lead to serious infections. Large animals such as certain dogs, foxes, or coyotes can easily kill a cat.
- Exposure to disease, pests and infections. Outdoor cats are more likely than indoor cats to be exposed to rabies and feline leukemia, as well as fleas, ticks, and ear mites.
- Temperature considerations. In our Canadian climate, summers can be sweltering hot (causing outdoor cats to get dehydrated), and winters can be bitterly cold (causing cats to shiver and even freeze to death).
- Exposure to toxins. Outdoor cats like to explore, and that includes open garages and sheds. This puts cats at increased risk of finding and ingesting dangerous chemicals such as antifreeze and rodenticides. Some outdoor plants (azaleas, cyclamen, or the bulbs of tulips and hyacinth) also endanger cats.
- Cruel people. Some people do not like cats and may become agitated if cats urinate, defecate, dig, or kill birds on their property. They may go so far as trying to poison, shoot or otherwise hurt cats to discourage them from visiting their property.
These are all great reasons to keep your kitty safe inside!
Keeping Your Indoor Cat Happy & Healthy
While indoor cats are unquestionably healthier than outdoor cats, they can get lazy or bored due to lack of exercise. As a result, they can gain weight and neglect self-grooming. Watch for these signs. The good news is, we can provide our indoor cats with the stimulation they need.
Depending on the personality of the cat and the environment in which you live, indoor cats can benefit from a companion cat (or dog). This helps indoor kitties get more active, combating boredom and lethargy. Interactive cat toys like laser pointers are recommended for the same reason; these toys carry the added bonus of bonding with your pet.
We recommend purchasing (or making) a scratching post or two. These can be either vertical or horizontal, but either option provides your cat with a way to dull his or her nails so they aren’t so sharp, helping to protect your furniture. Their nails can also be trimmed. Ask us how to safely trim your cat’s nails or call us to book an appointment for a nail trimming.
Another caution for indoor cat owners: be careful not to mistakenly bring dangerous plants into the house. For example, Aloe Vera, lilies, English Ivy and other common houseplants can make cats very sick.
Striking a Healthy Balance
Cats who spend all their time inside—especially those that have been kept inside since they were kittens—live very happy lives.
There are lots of ways to recreate outdoor stimulation inside so kitties don’t miss a thing, including:
- Catios, an increasingly popular enclosed cat patio, allow cats in all types of homes, including most apartments, to enjoy a taste of the outdoors while remaining safe.
- Small, window-hanging enclosures are easy to install and offer your cat fresh air and sunshine without any danger.
- Cat grass gives kitties a welcome taste of the great outdoors.
- If you do take your cat outside, keep them on a leash so they stay close by and supervise them during playtime.
Keep your cat happy and healthy by scheduling regular visits with your veterinarian. We can help you protect your kitty from rabies and feline leukemia by administering the proper vaccines. We can also help keep your cat safe from internal and external parasites. Make an appointment with us today!