For some cat owners, it’s not even a question. For others, it is an ongoing debate. Indoor cat or outdoor cat? Many people believe cats are free-spirited and should be allowed to roam freely outdoors, but what are the consequences of this kind of loose living?
The answer is, overwhelmingly, that outdoor cats live shorter lives. Indoor cats live easier lives with less stress and fewer health risks. There are very real dangers that await your cat if they are allowed outdoors unsupervised. Injury, illness, and attack from local wildlife are just a few of the things that can befall your furry friend.
Vets and pet owners both seem to agree that indoor living is healthier for our pets. Letting your cat outdoors early in their life can cause them to contract a disease like FIV. Even if your cat doesn’t display symptoms right away, a disease like FIV is terminal and can even be passed to other cats in your home. As I mentioned earlier, outdoor cat lives a much more stressful life. Narrowly escaping cars and animal attacks can cause adrenaline to pump through your cat’s body. That undue stress can lead to several different health problems, including degeneration of internal organs, and stomach ulcers, just to name a few.
The majority of cat lovers seem to agree that indoor living is best for the animal’s health and safety. However, they also seem to agree that most cats enjoy being outdoors. How can you keep your cat healthy, safe, and happy all at the same time? I have a friend who houses several several rescued cats in an area where they are allowed outside. Her solution to keeping them safe was by creating a “cat run” off of the kitty room. The cat’s have access to the sunny side of her house and the fresh country breeze that blows by, but they are confined behind a fence. This is a popular trend in Australia where domestic cats are killing of the native wildlife.
A cat run can be very elaborate, housing beds, benches, fountains, and live cat-friendly plants. Bamboo, Wheat grass, and Strawberries are easy to care for and safe for cats to munch on. They are also lovely to look at and if your cat run is large enough for you to visit, you could keep an outdoor garden that your whole family can enjoy.
I once had a cat who walked on a leash. My cat did this as a mimic of our dog, but you can teach your cat to walk on a leash as well. It all starts with getting your cat comfortable wearing a harness. Next, you slowly add the other elements, like letting the cat drag the leash attached to the harness, and later, picking up the end of the leash. Coax your cat along with treats or kitty calls and you’re well on your way. After practice you’ll have a happy little cat trotting along behind you. The task might be time consuming depending on your cat’s willingness to adapt, but the rewards are high. Not only will you be allowed to have your cat accompany you in a “leashed pets only” zone, but you and your kitty will get lots of attention from amazed onlookers. You can take that as an opportunity to share with them how they could lengthen their cat’s lifespan by keeping it indoors.