Owning a cat is a good thing, but there are many questions that need to be entertained before deciding. Everyone has different expectations when it comes to adopting a cat. For example, some are allowed on the couch or bed while others are expected to be outside.
The choice to have an indoor vs. outdoor cat is a tough one. You need to think about the safety of your pet, as well as the location, when making this decision.
There are pros and cons to being an outdoor vs. indoors-only pet owner. So make sure that whatever option you choose works best in your circumstances. Having a happy life can depend on this decision too!
Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cat
Cats have become one of the most popular pets worldwide. But indoor cats are different from the ones that go outside. Some felines might prefer to stay indoors, while others love to play and spend time outdoors.
Cats that spend most of their time inside are dependent on the owners. Along with certain physical differences, their behavior can also vary too.
Shedding is another important feature that can differentiate the two. Outdoors cars shed just once, but indoor cats shed constantly. Indoor cats don’t usually because they are too warm, but the cats that go outside shed more in the spring. It is because they are exposed to a certain amount of sunlight.
Likewise, indoor cats are also larger than outdoor cats. This is because indoor cats are better fed and cannot exercise much like outdoor cats. In contrast, outdoor cats are smaller and are usually in better shape.
The biggest differences between both these cats are the experiences they will have throughout their life. Indoors cats are likely to be pampered, well cared for, and tend to develop a strong bond with people. However, outdoor cats are pets that are fed by humans. They are also less sheltered than indoor cats.
Is It Better for a Cat to be Indoor or Outdoor - Pros and Cons
Here we have discussed the benefits and concerns when it comes to an indoor vs. outdoor cat’s life. With this, you will be able to make a decision whether a cat should be indoor or outdoor.
Pros of Indoor Cats
Below are the pros of indoor cats:
- Indoor cats are not allowed to hunt, which is a good thing. Cats are estimated to kill millions of birds in a year in the US that can have a negative effect on the environment.
- They will be less likely to develop diseases or catch mites and fleas.
Cons of Indoor Cats
The cons include:
- They can become bored and frustrated that may lead to restless and destructive behavior.
- Indoor cats are more likely to gain weight or develop joint problems because of limited exercise.
- Cats can become more sensitive to any changes in their surroundings. Even the smallest alterations can irritate them.
Pros of Outdoor Cats
The pros of the outdoor cats are the following:
- As cats are naturally agile so if they are allowed to go outdoors, they can run, climb or hunt. The more they exercise, the healthier they will be. Similarly, they will also not develop joint issues and obesity.
- The cats who can go outside allow them to stay calm and stress-free.
- A cat pet sometimes wants to scratch and hunt. Giving them a great outdoor space will also help them cause less damage to the furniture and other households.
Cons of Outdoor Cats
The cons include:
- When the cat goes outside, they can come into contact with other pets. It can increase the risk of developing serious diseases. They can also catch ringworms, ticks, fleas, and mites.
- Safety is another important issue if cats are allowed outdoors. They can get hit by a car, get trapped; they might get in a fatal fight with another animal.
- Outdoor cats are likely to grow more furballs that can be problematic and unpleasant sometimes.
Lifespan of Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
The previously discussed pros and cons might raise a question in the minds of a cat owner. It is regarding which of the indoor or outdoor cats live longer.
Some people think that letting cats go outside makes them happier. But most experts agree it is healthier to keep your pets indoors where they are safe from getting hurt or killed.
As outdoor cats are exposed to more dangers than indoor cats, their life expectancy is greatly reduced. According to an estimate, indoor cats live an average of 13 to 17 years. On the other hand, outdoor cats typically live for only 2 to 5 years.
Health Concerns of Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
There are different health risks associated with both indoor and outdoor cats. Have a look at the following problems to know what can be done to prevent and manage them.
Health Risks for Indoor Cats
The health risks for indoor cats include the following:
Obesity and Disease
Indoor cats tend to be less active than outdoor ones. With this, easy cat access to food is also a perfect scenario for them to become overweight. This develops the risk of diabetes. However, pet parents can control the eating and exercise habits of their indoor cats.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
This disease is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged, indoor cats. The common symptoms are:
- Straining to urinate
- Frequent and painful urination
- Producing bloody urine
- Urinating outside the litter box
The treatment includes weight management and stress reduction.
Without access to the activities like climbing, hunting, and scratching, indoor cats can become bored and stressed. For their behavioral needs to be met inside the home, provide several scratching posts and litter boxes.
Indoor cats can suffer separation anxiety if left alone for a long time. Because of this, they can make a lot of noise, urinate outside the litter box, vomit, excessively damage items in the home. Consult a vet if you think your emotional support cat is suffering from separation anxiety. He may recommend nutritional supplements and medications to help relieve the cat from anxiety.
Health Risks for Outdoor Cats
Diseases and Parasites
When cats come in contact with wild animals and other cats, it can result in the transmission of serious diseases. These include feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, and rabies. Similarly, they also have a risk of infestations with fleas, ticks, worms, and parasites.
There might be a possibility that your cat can get exposed to toxic substances like antifreeze or pesticides. It can pose a real challenge to outdoor cats.
Your cat pet can also become ill if she has to face harsh weather conditions. It can suffer from frostbite in the winter or dehydration, or heatstroke in the summer.
However, some tips can help you keep your cat safe when he is outdoors.
- Microchip your cat to monitor if they get picked up by animal control or taken to a vet’s clinic.
- Provide them with flea and tick prevention medication regularly.
- Try to get your cat inside before it gets dark.
- Make sure to provide the cat with proper shelter, food, and water available all the time.
- Keep the cat’s vaccinations up to date.
- Get pet insurance as outdoor cats require more veterinary visits.
Recommended Vaccines for Indoor and Outdoor Cats
No matter whether your cat is indoor or outdoor, you need to get them vaccinated regularly. The recommended vaccines for outdoor cats include:
- FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia)
- FELV (Feline Leukemia vaccine)
Nevertheless, the indoor cats require the vaccinations given below:
- FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia)
Both types of cats must be sprayed to get unwanted litter, and they should visit the vet for annual checkups.
Are Indoor or Outdoor Cats Happier?
Undoubtedly, indoor cats are healthier than outdoor felines. However, they can easily get lazy or bored due to a lack of exercise. As a result, they can gain weight, but they can be provided with more stimulation.
Depending on the cat’s personality and indoor environment, they can benefit from a companion. It can help them get more active by dealing with boredom. Likewise, cat toys are also recommended to keep them busy.
Cats who spend all their time inside since they were kittens live very happy lives. You can always recreate outdoor mental stimulation inside for these cats. It can be a small window that can offer them fresh air and sunshine. If you take them outside, keep them on a leash and also supervise them during playtime.
Lastly, you can also keep your cats happy and healthy by scheduling regular visits to the vet.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats Breeds
There are different types of cat breeds. Some indoor cat breeds include:
- Scottish Fold
- Burmese Cat
- Himalayan Cat
- Devon Rex
- Persian Cat
- Russian Blue
- British ShortHair
Similarly, the following are the outdoor cat breeds:
- Bengal Cat
- Bombay Cat
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest
- American Bobtail
- European Shorthair
Indoor vs. Outdoor - Which One to Choose for You?
The decision to adopt an indoor or outdoor cat is up to you. Both come with their own set of pros and cons that must be considered while making a decision.
Some think that letting cats enjoy the outdoors can give them a better quality of life. Whereas most vets usually recommend keeping a cat pet indoors.
But if you decide on a venture outdoor lifestyle for your cat, make sure they stay up-to-date on all scheduled vaccinations and parasite prevention. It is to keep them safe from diseases that could cause severe consequences if left untreated.
Besides this, it is much easier from an indoor to an outdoor cat than to go from an outdoor to an indoor pet. Once the cat has had their first taste of freedom, it is tough to convince them to go back inside.
Therefore, it is better to consult a vet to evaluate which is the safest and in the best interest of your pet. Also, he will guide you better regarding who to choose between indoor versus outdoor as your emotional support animal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cruel to keep cats indoors?
No, it is not cruel to keep the cats indoors. Instead, by keeping them inside, you can prevent them from catching diseases, getting poisoned, shot, trapped, or drowned by intolerant neighbors.
Will my cat come back if I let him outside?
Most cats take time to explore the outside world. So, in that case, let them explore and don’t panic as most cats come back after a few minutes. You can also give them the treat to encourage their return.
Are male or female cats better indoors?
Generally, male cats are better to handle indoors than females. However, if the cat is over 18 months old, it might be difficult for their personality and temperament to adjust inside.
Can cats live outside all year?
Yes, community or stray cats are well-suited to living outdoors close to humans. They are resilient and able to survive in all locations and weather climates.
How can you tell if a cat is happy living indoors?
Here are the signs of a happy indoor cat:
- Vocal clues
- A healthy appearance
- A relaxed posture
- Playful behavior
- A good appetite