Should you keep your cat indoors or let it come and go as it pleases?
If you live in a busy city or an apartment without outdoor space, it might be tempting to keep your pet indoors. On the other hand, allowing your cat to wander free comes with its own set of dangers.
To help you make the choice, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons to both sides of the argument:
Indoor cat: the pros
If kept indoors, your cat will be protected from outdoor hazards. This includes the risk posed by traffic, fights with other animals as well as poisonous flowers and insecticides. Left unattended, pedigree cats are also at a greater risk of being stolen.
Less likely to contract parasites
Being indoors, your pet won’t encounter other felines as much as an outdoor cat, reducing the risk of contracting parasites or infectious diseases common to cats.
As predatory animals, cats instinctively hunt. Presuming your home is secure, indoor cats won’t be able to kill and therefore bring home dead rats, mice and other animals.
Indoor cat: the cons
Cats are natural wanderers. If kept inside, they’re prone to becoming frustrated and bored. This may lead to the development of problems derived from restless behaviour. To prevent this, ensure your cat is entertained during the day with toys and other engaging activities.
Increased sensitivity to changes in environment
Most cats enjoy a certain level of stability in their environment. However, indoor cats can develop increased sensitivity to change, becoming unsettled and irritable to small differences around the home.
When experiencing stressful situations, outdoor cats can slip away through their cat flap to get away from it all. Without access to the outdoors, indoor-only cats require a safe haven within your home to retreat. If your cat has to share indoor space with other cats or animals, this may increase feelings of stress.
Outdoor cat: pros
Cats are powerful, agile animals. Having outdoor access, cats can easily go hunting, climb trees and run around to their heart’s content. Active cats also tend to be healthier, fitter and less likely to become obese and suffer with associated health problems.
Free to be themselves
Outside of the home, cats are free to exhibit their natural behaviours. Scratching and spraying are both normal behaviours for cats and with outdoor access, they can display these behaviours away from the home where they can’t cause damage.
If other cats, animals or even unfamiliar visitors come into the house, your cat could perceive them as a threat, which will ultimately cause them stress. Having the ability to leave the house provides them with the means to get away and calm down. If you’re worried about providing neighbouring cats with easy access to your home, microchip and magnetic cat flaps provide peace of mind through extra security.
Outdoor cat: cons
With the ability to wander, cats are at risk of outdoor dangers. Kittens who have yet to learn about the dangers of the road are most at risk of being injured by oncoming traffic. Outdoor cats also face greater risk of getting injured through altercations with other animals as well as consuming poisonous foods or vegetation.
There are a whole host of reasons why cats go missing. Getting trapped in a neighbouring shed, garage or garden are all common ones. At the same time, some people mistake cats for strays and start feeding them or hand them into local shelters. If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to speak to a vet about getting your pet microchipped to make them easier to find should they go missing.