CAT / training & behavior
Should I Let My Cat Go Outside?
Should you let your cat outside, or should they stay inside? There is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic. Everyone wants what is best for their cat...so what should you do?
Many families choose to let their cats wander outdoors. The truth is that this is not the safest option for them. While keeping a dog safe in the backyard is easy, making sure your cat stays safe is a little more complicated. These curious creatures love to explore their environment and, unlike most dogs, are very agile and adept at climbing over walls and fences. While this might be exciting for them, they are much safer inside your home.
The Dangers of Letting Your Cat Outside
When cats go out, they can roam far and wide without their human parents there to make sure they’re safe. Research shows that outdoor cats have much shorter life spans than indoor cats because they encounter risks that don’t happen at home. Some of these risks include:
- They Could Get Lost - Cats can still get lost even with those expert instincts. If your cat wanders off too far, they might not be able to find their way back home.
- They Could Get Hit By Cars - Cats don’t know pedestrian rules. They don’t know to look both ways when they cross the street. Even though your cat is fast, they are not quicker than a car. Drivers can accidentally hit a cat that is trying to quickly cross the street.
- Other Animals Could Hurt Them - While your cat is friendly, there is no guarantee that other animals around the neighborhood will be. There are stray and wild animals that carry diseases that may try to fight with your cat. Your cat may also wander to the wrong place where they could encounter aggressive animals.
- Parasites Could Attack Them - Parasites, including fleas and ticks, are all over the place outside. They exist on other animals and around the environment and are more likely to find their way to your cat when they are outdoors.
- They Could Hurt Themselves - Whether they try to jump from a high fence or get stuck somewhere they can’t get out of, your cat is more likely to get hurt when you cannot control what is in their environment.
- They Could Be Taken by Someone - It is sometimes hard to tell if a cat belongs to someone if they are wandering outdoors. Unless you have an ID tag on your cat, people might mistake them for a stray and try to rescue them. Even worse, someone could try to take your cat home with them or drop them off at the pound.
- They Could Get Into Stuff They’re Not Supposed To - Sometimes, people leave traps and poisons outside to kill unwanted pests in their yard. Cats could easily get into this or anything else they’re not supposed to get into and become seriously ill.
How to Transition Your Outdoor Cat to an Indoor Lifestyle
If your cat is already used to going outside, transitioning to an indoor lifestyle may take some adjustment; remember it’s for their own good.
- Be Patient - This transition can take time. Your cat is more likely to experience increased stress with changes to their routine. They might not be happy with the fact that you are no longer letting them outside. Remember to be patient through this transition. Over time your cat will get more and more used to their new routine.
- Make Inside a Fun Place to Be - Being outside is fun! If there are not a lot of things to do inside, your cat might become bored and unhappy. Make sure you fill their environment with plenty of stuff to do, hunt, climb, eat and drink. The more activities and diversions you provide, the happier they’ll be. Some great options are cat toys like laser pointers, cat mice, catnip and more.
- Maximize Their Space - Cats like to have their own territory, but they are relatively small creatures, so even a studio apartment is relatively big “territory” for them. For a cat, “territory” can simply mean the living room or the scratching post. Really, their territory is anywhere they can leave their mark and call their home. Maximize their space with cat supplies like cat furniture, cat scratchers, window perches and other things that are theirs, so they have plenty of “territory.”
- Keep a Close Eye on Doorways - Your once-outdoor cat is more likely to try and make a break for it than a cat that has always lived indoors. Pet parents should keep a close eye on their doorways, making sure never to let their cats slip outside through a door that may only be opened a crack.
- Spend Lots of Time With Them - Your cat loves you. They will feel a lot better about their new situation if they know they have you to shower them with love and attention. Make sure to spend tons of time with your now, permanently indoor kitty.
Once they have become used to their new situation, they will be much safer and just as happy.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.