When you bring a new feline friend into your home, you have some big decisions to make. One of the most important is whether you will keep your cat inside, outside or some combination of the two. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you and your cat.
Keeping your cat inside is the best way to ensure her safety. She won’t come into contact with other animals that might hurt her, get run over by a car or get lost. You can control what she eats and plays with, so she can’t consume something dangerous or poisonous. They’re also much less likely to get fleas or ticks if they stay inside. Indoor cats typically live longer than their outdoor counterparts, since they are more protected from dangerous environmental factors that could harm or kill them.
Living indoors might not be the most mentally stimulating environment for your cat. She may get bored easily. A cat with nothing to entertain her is much more likely to claw at things in your house. Cats kept inside probably don’t get as much exercise as outdoor cats, so are more susceptible to weight gain. Extra fat can have serious implications for your cat’s health.
Animals are not meant to be cooped up inside a house or apartment all day. They like having the space to roam and explore. Letting your cat outdoors allows him to connect with his animal instinct. He may get bored in the house all day, especially if no one is home or he’s there by himself with no animal companions. If your cat lives mostly outside, he has a chance to play in nature and explore the world around him. He can hunt and chase smaller animals, a favorite pastime for many cats. He’ll also probably get more exercise than he would if he lived inside. Keeping your pet trim is an important part of keeping him healthy. Plus, keeping your cat outdoors means a cleaner house. There’s no kitty litter to change and no damage to your stuff or furniture from sharp claws.
However, keeping your cat exclusively outdoors can be dangerous for him. Cats are agile and can’t be kept in by fences. He could easily wander off and not be able to find his way back. He could also become ill from the temperature, pick up a parasite or contract a disease from a plant or other cat. Outdoor cats are often vulnerable to attacks from other predatory animals.
Whatever you decide, there are steps you can take to negate some of the cons wherever your cat lives. If your cat is mostly indoors, provide plenty of mental stimulation so she doesn’t get bored. Interesting toys, play time and even a companion can offset extreme boredom and provide exercise.
If your cat stays mostly outdoors, be very proactive about flea and tick prevention and stay alert for any strange behaviors or symptoms of disease. Provide plenty of fresh water and healthy cat food, and make sure your cat has a place to escape the elements. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for your cat and your household.