While the majority of owners in Europe allow their cats the freedom of going outdoors, others choose to give them lifestyles that are completely indoors. This article looks at some of the pros and cons of each approach.
The benefits of staying indoors
It was only with the advent of cat litter in the 1950s that cat owners could easily choose an indoor lifestyle for their cat. Since then it has been found that indoor cats tend to live longer lives on average than those allowed outside. This is because indoor cats are at less risk of:
- Theft – with more valuable pedigree cats being kept as pets, more pets are being stolen
- Getting lost – outdoor cats can sometimes get trapped in garages, sheds or even boots of cars
- Road accidents – this is a major cause of death for cats, especially young cats who have yet to learn the dangers of traffic
- Predators – indoor cats are naturally protected from foxes and other predators
- Fights – unless they fall out with other housemates, indoor cats can avoid fights with other cats and dogs.
- Poisoning – although it does not happen often, outdoor cats sometimes accidentally eat harmful substances such as antifreeze, slug pellets or rat poison.
- Infectious diseases – indoor cats are protected from diseases that are passed from cat to cat by close contact. However, some organisms and parasites can be carried indoors on human shoes or clothes. It’s important to note that indoor cats still need vaccinations and worming treatments to stay healthy.
- Conservation – indoor cats reduce the risk of excessive hunting and larger numbers of bird deaths, especially during the reproductive season.
- As your cat gets older, they may naturally choose a more indoors lifestyle. Some elderly cats may even prefer the comfort and security of staying indoors all the time.
The benefits of an outdoor life
Despite the benefits of an indoor lifestyle, there are also advantages of letting your cat outside.
The main benefit is to your cat’s mental health and wellbeing. Cats are designed to hunt and mark their territory and use their highly developed senses of smell, hearing and touch and specialised eyesight to stalk and hunt prey.
Allowing your cat outdoors enables them to express their normal feline behaviour more fully, which is probably why outdoor cats suffer less mental health or behavioural issues than those kept entirely indoors. Outdoor cats are able to exercise more as well, so they are less prone to obesity and its associated health concerns.
The choice is yours
With pros and cons on both side, there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing an indoor or outdoor lifestyle for your cat. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to provide your cat with high-quality care, good nutrition and plenty of stimulation to support mental wellbeing.