One issue that elicits strong opinions among cat owners is, “should
cats be kept indoors all the time”? In terms of health and safety, indoor
cats are much more likely to live longer healthier lives. However, others feel
that keeping a cat indoors is against their nature, and thus, detracts from
their quality of their life.
When an owner educates them self about their options, the decision is usually
much easier to make. Outdoor cats do face many more risks than indoor cats;
the biggest threat being traffic. Location is a key factor in determining whether
traffic constitutes a significant risk for your cat. Other risks faced by outdoor
cats may also include: exposure to disease spread by other cats, or the hunting
of wild prey; harm caused by dogs or wild animals, or cat hating people. There
is also concern for local bird populations when cats are allowed outside.
The argument for allowing a cat out is that hunting and exploration is part
of their nature, and keeping a cat inside leads to a deprived unhappy cat.
Cats are explorers and hunters by nature and tend to be drawn to the outdoors.
However, this instinct can vary greatly from cat to cat. Some cats are completely
satisfied as indoor cats, while others are desperately drawn to the outdoors.
Judging your cat’s desires generally isn’t hard. A cat tends to
let you know. If the draw to the outdoors isn’t strong, indoors is an
easy choice. When a cat does exhibit a strong desire to go out there are some
safer alternatives to letting him wander free. Window seats, enclosed porches,
a walk on a leash, or allowing your pet out in restricted spaces with supervision
can be a good compromise. In some cases where a cat has already lived outdoors
such as a rescued stray, or cats with a high outdoor desire, one may choose
to let them be outdoor cats. In this case, providing a safe hiding spot and/or
a cat door to escape potential danger is a good idea. Weighing the plusses
and minuses in the ‘in versus out debate’ will hopefully lead to
a happy healthy life for both cat and owner.