Outdoor or indoor?

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Photo courtesy of Chika via Flickr

One of the biggest conundrums for any cat owner is whether or not to let your cat outdoors. The arguments for and against are endless, but I think the best way to tackle it is on a case by case basis. Each cat has a different personality, which can change as they age, so it’s important to take many factors in consideration with this decision.

Cons of Keeping Your Cat Indoors

  • Cats are free spirits, right? It is wrong to confine them.
  • Your cat will get bored indoors unless you provide constant stimulation – intelligent animals come at a price!
  • Less time outside=less physical activity, which can cause pets to gain weight. Being overweight is unhealthy for your pet, too!

Pros of Keeping Your Cat Indoors

  • It is definitely safer to keep your cat indoors. Your cat is subject to being run over by cars, being stolen by other humans, being harassed by other cats or other animals, and disease such as feline leukemia and AIDS.
  • It is also safe for local wildlife to keep your cat inside. Cats are natural hunters, and even a well-fed cat will go after a bird, rat or even squirrel for amusement.
  • Outdoor cats typically go through a lot of stress, which can ultimately be unhealthy for them. Indoor cats often live longer.

How do you balance out these pros and cons? Well, I would say it largely depends on your cat and your living situation. Some cats are quieter, and prefer staying indoors anyway.  Other cats are very curious and need to explore in order to be happy.

In my experience, my family tried to keep my kitten Asha indoors, but she constantly looked out the windows, wishing to be let outside to explore. She took to stalking the front door, ready to spring out when it was opened. Finally when she turned one, we decided to let her out more frequently during the day just so she wouldn’t feel bored. Now, we let her out as long as someone is home. I always look for her when I come home, and luckily she is usually very receptive to being called. I live in a suburban, pet-friendly area, so she is fairly safe. We keep her indoors at night, though. I would say she is a much happier being an outdoor/indoor cat, and she doesn’t stalk the door nearly as much!

Despite my experience, I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to keep your cat indoors due to the many dangers outside! You do have options with this decision, and I would especially recommend it if you live in an urban area. You can teach your cat to walk on a black leather leash and take her for walks just like a dog! Most young cats can still be trained to at least tolerate the harness and leash. Another option to consider is the outdoor cat enclosure. Many kinds are available in different shapes and sizes. Each is covered by some sort of net, so that your cat will not escape. If you choose an enclosure, be sure to fill it with your cat’s favorite toys and check on your cat every so often.

Photo courtesy of Krikit via Flickr

What do you think about the indoor/outdoor cat debate? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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