Cats are independent creatures that love to explore the world around them. Because of their independence and curiosity, many cats enjoy living in the outdoors and the liberty that comes with it. Many cat owners even believe that keeping cats outdoors is the best solution to ensuring that your cat stays fit and happy; however, these owners are often ignorant of the many hazards of outdoor life. Before committing your cat to the life of the great outdoors, it’s important to consider the risks.
Beware the Outdoors
Cats that regularly venture outside of their owner’s home face a variety of dangers that indoor cats do not. Simply by venturing outside, cats put themselves at risk for car accidents and predation. It’s not just external threats that pose a danger, as even their interactions with other cats threaten their well-being. In addition to territorial fights causing injury, these fights- along with any sexual activity- might serve as a catalyst for the spread of disease.
The American Feral Cat Coalition approximates that there are nearly 60 million stray or feral cats living in the United States. This exorbitant number results in a greater chance of your pet interacting with homeless cats that are more likely to carry diseases. These cats can infect your pet with any number of dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia, feline AIDS, feline distemper and more. They might also spread harmful parasites like ringworm, roundworm, or ticks.
The freedom of the outdoors is grand- but its temptations are often too great for cats. Outdoor cats are more likely to get stuck in trees or other elevated spots where they might later find themselves stranded. They also may choose to eat foods or liquids that are toxic or poisonous to them. Additionally, house cats often travel much farther than their owners would expect. A study from Ecography reports that they travel within a 20 acre area; for perspective, this is more than 3 times the size of the area explored by farm cats.
Appeasing Your Indoor Cat
In spite of these dangers, many cat owners claim that the benefits of living outdoors outweigh these risks. They believe that indoor cats tend to get bored, become overweight, and engage in destructive behavior. Though their points have a factual basis, these concerns can be resolved from within the framework of keeping your cat indoors.
Although indoor cats may have a much smaller space to explore with less environmental stimulation than outdoor cats, there are plenty of ways to keep indoor cats entertained. An interesting environment can be constructed within your home to give your cat a safe space to stretch his legs and act on his instincts. This resolves boredom and can also help reduce a cat’s tendency to engage in destructive behavior.
Many believe destructive behavior is caused by boredom or instinct. Cats need to keep their claws sharp, so it’s not uncommon for them to shred furniture and ruin décor. A scratching post can give cats an outlet, but many believe that the desire to keep claws sharp and destroy is a result of discomfort caused from being stuck indoors. One way to protect your home from kitty’s claws is to ensure that your cat has both a horizontal and a vertical scratching post, to increase the diversity of their environment. If your cat still has behavioral problems, consider using natural pheromones to calm your cat.
Keeping your cat active and healthy is another challenge faced by owners of indoor cats. The best way to keep your cat in shape is to ensure that all their meals are nutritionally balanced and that they have a regular schedule which includes play time. This play time will provide a perfect opportunity to burn calories through physical play.
Precautions for Outdoor Cats
Following these tips should make your cat’s indoor life fulfilling, but the transition from being an outdoor cat to an indoor cat can take some time. The best way to make the transition is to get your cat on a schedule and used to the idea of staying indoors. This means guarding against escape attempts to ensure that your cat breaks their habits.
If you’d prefer to continue your cat’s outdoor lifestyle then it’s important to remember to vaccinate your cat to protect against disease. Additionally, a microchip tracker can help prevent losing cats to thieves. In spite of these precautions, the great outdoors are still a very dangerous place for domestic cats. Please put serious thought into your decision to allow your cat free reign outside and let us know what you think is best for your cat (or cats in general) in the comments.