Ten Reasons For Keeping a Cat Indoors
Advocating for the health and safety of our precious pets!
This is one of those subjects in pet care that can lead to spirited debates. Should I keep my cats indoors at all times or let them out to run freely in the yard and neighborhood?
Many of my pet sitting clients have asked my opinion on this subject, especially if they've rescued a cat that was used to being an indoor/outdoor cat or if they live in a more semi-rural area with a bigger yard.
When I started pet sitting, I had some clients with cats who went out in the morning and returned by suppertime. This is the practice they wanted me to follow. Initially, I agreed to it. After all, pet sitters like to keep pets in their normal routines. However, I quickly learned that cats didn't necessarily return at suppertime, nor did they always return to the sound of my voice calling their names. Sometimes this resulted in multiple pet visits to make sure the cat came home, and a few sleepless nights when the cats didn't return at all.
Within a brief period of time, I started to request that clients keep their cats in the home for the entire time I was pet sitting, and stated my reasons why. Most were agreeable and understood. A few insisted that their cats come and go through a cat door. This was a practice I put up with (to be honest) but wasn't too thrilled with it. On more than one occasion these cats also brought in some undesirable things, or in one situation, an additional cat not belonging to the family followed the owner's cat inside and then couldn't find his way out. This resulted in a very interesting situation for me when I arrived for the next pet visit. I won't go into it in this post but it would be a good story for a future one so stay tuned, please.
In essence, I'm going to put it out in cyberspace that I'm an advocate for cats being kept indoors at all times.
Here are my reasons why:
1. Indoor cats typically live many years longer than those that are allowed outside simply because there are many more life-threatening dangers outside.
2. Cats that are allowed outside can be stolen, abused, killed, run over, get lost or injured, or attacked by other animals such as coyotes, fisher cats, etc.
3. Cats that are allowed outdoors can get themselves trapped in other people's garages or sheds. If not found, they will starve and die.
4. Cats are curious, hence the saying "curiosity killed the cat". Cats can lick up anti-freeze on the ground or other poisons. They will literally come home sicker than a dog (no pun intended) and you won't know what they ingested or what to tell the vet. A surprise trip to the vet is also costly. Ca-ching!
5. Cats that are allowed outside may not come home at night or for several nights, leaving you a worried wreck who goes to work very tired the next day.
6. Cats that are outside a lot leave you in the dark regarding the health of their bowel movements - or if they are even going to the bathroom at all. You won't know if your cat is constipated or has diarrhea. Being aware of a cat's bathroom habits is important to good pet care.
7. Cats may bring home all sorts of icky gifts for you such as dead mice and birds. Do we really want more creatures to die just for our pet's entertainment or a desire to bring a gift home to you?
8. Your cat can come in with fleas or ticks on them, then cuddle up with you on the couch or in bed, and wa-la, you now have a new problem. Consider your time spent removing briars from your cat too.
9. Your cat can return home with injuries after fighting with another cat, another creature, or some other situation and you will have another expensive vet bill and possibly many late nights being up caring for your sweet baboo.
10. Cats that are let outdoors without identification can become forever lost. They can be adopted by someone else who finds them or end up petrified in an animal shelter with no way to tell the caretakers where they live. This also causes you stress as you feverishly run around putting up flyers for a lost cat and posting photos and offering rewards on social media.
Some have the misconception that cats cannot be happy indoors because it isn't their "true nature". They need to be outside hunting and basking in the sun and living the wild life. I believe cats can live very full lives indoors. If you really want your cat to get fresh air then build out a cat shelter where they can still be in an enclosed space but three sides are in a screened-in porch.
If indoor cats are provided with plenty of indoor experiences, interesting places to sleep, perches to look outside windows, toys, and lots of love from their owners, then they will be just fine. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat now you can slowly transition them to being inside cats by keeping them inside for longer periods of time until they are acclimated to being indoor cats. If you get a new kitten just keep them inside from the get-go and all will be well.