Unlike dogs, cats seem to maintain a deep connection to their wild and adventurous roots. Cats love watching birds, chasing lizards, and sunbathing on the windowsill. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many cat parents want to know if it’s okay to let their kitty out. We dive whiskers first into the question to help you find the answers you’re looking for.
The Reality for an Outdoor Kitty
It seems like most cats long to explore the outdoors. A cat’s natural disposition makes them seem out of place inside all day long. They like to hunt and get excited by dynamic changes around them. In fact, studies show that cats, despite being our bundles of fur and love for the past thousand years, still remain wild at their core. So, are you helping your cat explore her wild roots when you let her out or are you risking her health and wellbeing?
The Risks of Outdoor Life
- Cats are bold and brave. This can be to their detriment when it comes to living a life outside. While your cat chases a squirrel, chipmunk, or mouse, she may be setting herself up as prey. Cats, while being fierce predators, are much smaller than other predators out there. Cayotes, dogs, even birds of prey can target cats and do some serious damage.
Even cats that aren’t killed during a scuffle are at risk of serious injury if they get into a run-in with a larger animal.
The risk is even greater for cats that are a bit pudgy or declawed since they don’t move as quickly and may not be able to scale a tree in time to get away.
- Cars and cars don’t mix. One of the biggest dangers for an outdoor cat is the risk of physical trauma like cars, cat traps, and inhumane treatment by human strangers.
- Outdoor cats are also more susceptible to disease and illness. From leptospirosis to parasites like fleas and ticks, outdoor kitties have more opportunities to cross paths with wild animals and strays that can carry infectious diseases.
Outdoor Cats’ Effect on Wildlife
While most cat parents worry about their fluffy balls of love when they adventure into the great outdoors, cats have a significant impact on the world around them. Our sweet purr-balls are skilled hunters. They take down birds, lizards, and other native creatures. By satisfying a cat’s desire to hunt, people inadvertently harm the natural ecosystem.
Benefits of Keeping Your Kitty Inside
As you can probably imagine there is a wide range of benefits of keeping your kitty inside. How can your cat benefit from staying in the comfort of your air-conditioned abode?
- A Longer Life
Staying inside helps kitties live longer! How much longer? A LOT LONGER! The average life of an indoor cat is 15 to 17 years while an outdoor cat’s is just 2 to 5 years.
- A Steady Diet
When your cat is kept inside, you know exactly what she’s eating and getting into. This can help when it comes to upset tummy, allergies, and trips to the vet.
- A Controlled Climate and Lack of Exposure to the Elements
The last thing you want when a hurricane or storm is on the way is not being able to find your cat. While you may worry, your cat is taking the brunt of the tumultuous weather.
The Downsides of indoor Feline Life
Indoor life is safe, calm, and steady, but there are some issues indoor kitties run into.
- Cats kept in the house often have a tendency to gain weight and develop diabetes over time.
- They also get bored which can lead to depression and destructive behavior.
Can Your Cat Have the Best of the Indoor and Outdoor Worlds?
If you want your cat to release some of her energy and enjoy the benefits of the yard, bring your cat to the vet, first to get her the vaccines she needs to stay protected. A fenced-in yard is also the safest way for a cat to enjoy some fresh air. You can also create a catio to make a refuge where she can bird watch and sunbathe.
When keeping your cat inside, you can help quell her desire for some hunting and adventure by keeping her stimulated and busy. Try a cat perch on your window to let your cat keep her mind busy by watching the squirrels and neighbors.
Final Thoughts on the Great Debate
Keeping your cat inside is certainly safer, but there are ways to let your cat safely explore the outdoors. You can also fulfill your cat’s need to hunt through playtime and wild watching from the safety of a window or catio.
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— Meow for now —