Should you keep your cat indoors or outdoors?

The pros & cons of keeping indoor vs outdoor cats


If you own a cat, there’s no doubt you’ve discussed whether you should keep your cat inside or let it roam outside. And from all viewpoints, there are pros and cons to both sides.


Regardless of your choice, the first thing you need to be aware of is your area's council regulations. Most councils will have a ‘cat curfew’, meaning your fur baby must be kept inside between certain hours.


Some councils, such as the Knox City Council, have introduced a 24-hour curfew! You therefore need to make sure your cat always stays on your property.


You’ll find councils in areas with abundant wildlife may also have strict rules around keeping your cat contained on your property to save the local wildlife, particularly at night.


So, as a responsible cat owner, your first point of call is checking the local laws around cat curfews.




Getting your cat used to its surroundings – what to do when you move house


If you have an outdoor cat, you should keep them indoors for at least 3-6 weeks when you move. This allows them to safely study their new surroundings, getting used to new scents and even sussing out other cats behind the safety of a window.


To help your cat get used to the outdoors, you can take them out on a leash or harness and allow them to explore their new surroundings safely. Or, set up an outdoor cat run if you need to keep them confined.


How your cat’s life expectancy is affected


It’s no secret that indoor cats live a pretty comfy life. Sleeping wherever they want, having food and water when they want it, getting lots of pats and attention, and avoiding predators.


If you let your fur baby roam outside, you need to be aware that they’ll face more dangers, and therefore, their life expectancy is significantly reduced.

  • Indoor cats, on average live 10-15 years

  • Outdoor cats, on average live 2-5 years



Keeping your indoor cat entertained (how to give them the stimulation they need)


If you decide to keep your cat inside, you can replicate the stimulation they receive in the outside world. Although it can be painful when your cat scratches your couch or carpet or scares you when they silently leap up next to you, cats naturally need to climb, scratch, hide, and jump.


You can help your cat live a happy indoor life, satisfying their natural instincts by:

  • Having lots of toys, including ones that move, have feathers and so on

  • Providing a scratching post with different materials and hiding holes

  • Consider a window perch so they can sit and watch the world outside

  • Take them on the occasional outside walk on a lead or harness


The health concerns of indoor vs outdoor cats


Indoor cats tend to be lazier than their outside friends. When cats aren’t as active as they should be, they can become overweight, leading to diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.


Outdoor cats usually suffer a whole range of health issues due to being outside. This includes:


Bacterial, viral and fungal infections (from other animals, grasses, garden beds and so on)

  • Wounds if they get into a fight

  • Fleas, ticks, ringworm and roundworm infestations

  • Poisoning from chemicals such as snail bait or rat poison

  • Diseases such as feline leukaemia or immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

  • Trauma or death from being hit by a car (or unfortunately, abused by humans)


A summary of the pros vs cons for indoor cats

PROS

CONS

Live longer

May show boredom behaviours if not offered alternative stimulations

Can still get the stimulation they need

You’ll need to empty their litter tray more often

Fewer health issues

May become overweight and lazy

No unexpected ‘presents’ left on your doorstep or bed

Avoid injury from predators, cars or other cats


A summary of the pros vs cons for outdoor cats

PROS

CONS

Use their natural instincts

May get lost or fail to return home

Shorten their claws on tree trunks (rather than your couch or carpet)

Attack or kill local wildlife

Will go to the toilet outside keeping their litter tray cleaner for longer

Prone to more health issues

Will stay active

May get sunstroke or hypothermia

Can be hit by cars

May meow to be constantly let outside (not great during imposed curfews)




Here’s how to keep your cat safe outside


If you decide to let your cat roam outside, here’s a couple of tips to keep them safe:

  • Have them microchipped so they can be returned home

  • Keep up to date with their flea and tick treatments as well as their vaccinations

  • Encourage your cat home before curfew and keep them inside when it’s dark

  • Use a leash or harness and stay with them outside

  • Build a cat run for the best of both worlds

  • Consider pet insurance to help you with the vet bills


And here's a quick reminder of my pet services


If you're planning a hopeful holiday for the Christmas/New Year break, I suggest booking in my pet sitting or walking services early. It's better to have your place booked and cancel if we're locked down than miss out on a place.


Take care and pat your fur babies from me.