Which Do You Believe Is Better? An Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cat

At times, it’s hard to decide if your cat would be better off as an indoor vs outdoor cat. There are pros and cons for either one. Big issues include kitty’s health, safety, and happiness. In this post, you will learn a bit about both sides of the question. Some of it depends on the cat and some on you and your outlook about the matter.

How does your cat view the matter? Some cats are happy staying inside all day and some throw cat fits if they can’t get out. I’m torn — I’ve been fortunate to live in rural areas, where letting kitty out does not encompass so many dangers. However, I still find myself worrying about him if he’s gone all day.

How Does The Location Of Your Home Impact The Situation?

This catio looks much like Mocha’s

Until my most recent cat, Mocha, I have usually let my cats out except when dwelling in the middle of a city. I do, however, impose some requirements. The cat goes out at a certain time and must return at a certain time for meals. Then the evening and night are spent inside.

Mocha, however, started as a feral cat and I’ve been concerned that he would wander off and not return. So, for the first year, he stayed in. Now we have a compromise. He gets to go out for about two or three hours in the morning; then I bring him in. He has a catio as a sort of half-way house when it’s time to come in.

Threats To Kitty’s Health And Safety

As a person owned by a kitty, you have a responsibility. You want your cat to thrive, but you also want to offer protection from risks that can come with either choice. Here are some threats that can endanger your cat when outside:

Cat "Wanted" poster
  • Cars: Most cats tend to watch for cars, but they may not realize how fast a car can reach them. They can misjudge their own abilities to escape the danger offered by a vehicle.
  • Mean people: Some folks just seem to have a streak of cruelty when it comes to small animals. If your cat has lived in an environment where he trusts those around him, he may not be prepared for a different type of person.
  • Animal attacks and predators: Be on guard, kitty! Danger might lurk behind that nearby bush.
  • Diseases and poisons: A cat can pick up a disease from an animal he encounters outside. Or, he might ingest something poisonous, not realizing that danger.
  • Parasites: Little pests can attack, too small to be seen or avoided.

Ways To Help Keep An Outdoor Cat Safe

Cat on leash
A safe way to take your cat outdoors
  • Teach your cat to walk on a leash. Then he can explore the outdoors but he has you by his side for protection.
  • Build a catio so he can enjoy some outdoor time without danger.
  • Keep his shots up-to-date; also, make sure he’s received flea and tick prevention medication.
  • Spay or neuter your kitty. He’ll be less apt to get in fights or to wander too far from home looking for companionship of the opposite sex.
  • Make sure he has a good ID collar. Also, have him microchipped, so you have a way to identify him if he wanders or is taken far away.
  • Train him to come with a promise of treats. Mocha knows his name, but he will only come when he’s called if he wants to do so. However, if I call and rattle his treat container, he returns every single time.

Ways to Ensure Your Indoor Cat Is Happy

A cat playroom
Build a playroom for your cat
Cat grass
  • Kitty needs entertainment to avoid boredom. Furnish a variety of toys and change them from time to time, so there’s always something new.
  • Provide space as well as different levels that he can reach. Cats like to be up high. Mocha has a space in the bathroom — a storage space just under the eaves, where a futon is stored. He jumps to the sink; to the top of the stackable washer-dryer; then to his private “apartment.” He loves it!
  • Provide hiding places
  • Set up a special playground with all kitty’s favorite things.
  • Adopt another cat so kitty has a friend.
  • Install a cat hammock in a window.
  • If you must leave for extended periods, keep a radio on.
  • Furnish a pot of cat grass or one of catnip so he can have fresh growing things to munch on.
  • Bring outdoor items inside, such as a large piece of wood he can scratch on.
  • The catio helps here, too, as he can enjoy both the outdoors and safety.
  • Interact with your cat. Establish regular play-times. Actually, I believe this one is important whether your cat stays indoors or goes outside.

Weigh These Factors: What Becomes Most Important?

Indoor cats may stay safer, healthier, and most likely will live longer. However, outdoor cats gain the advantage of fresh air, exercise, and lots of space to run.

Indoor cats can grow bored or become obese. They don’t have much opportunity to hunt. Outdoor cats may sacrifice their health and safety.

Cat ladders in Switzerland
Swiss cat ladder

Something you may want to consider: Though it’s an advantage to the cat to spend time outdoors so he can hunt, it can create a problem. It’s natural for a cat to hunt, but the kitty does not take into account his impact on the local bird or wildlife population. If you become concerned about the number of birds he kills, perhaps you need to find a compromise, and limit his outside time. A bell collar can help notify unwary birds.

Your choice will depend in part on your individual cat. If kitty finds satisfaction in the indoor life, or perhaps has no desire to go outside, your choice is simple. However, if your cat craves the outdoor life and becomes stressed and unhappy without it, you will have to find ways to create contentment for him. It’s not always easy to choose. Realize, though, that whichever way you go, there are things you can do to make the situation work.

Experiment. Ask your cat.

References I used for this post:

4 thoughts on “Which Do You Believe Is Better? An Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cat”

  1. I agree with everything you said. In or out depends on so many different things. My Truffie goes into the back yard only. High fences keep her corraled though I’ve never seen her try to jump over. Every home, location, and animal needs/wants vary. Mommy must make the best decision for kitty.

  2. I have two long-time indoor cats. They’ve lived their entire lives indoors and don’t know any different. They have ventured outside the door a few feet but scramble to get back in after a few sniffs.
    Recently, we were adopted by a stray tomcat, and he has decided he will do us the honor of staying with us, but not all the time. He still has to have outdoor time every day (more nighttime than day). He’s been ear-tipped, but he still likes to go out and roam at night, then comes home to heal his battle scars in the morning. The Vet says he’s not a coward cuz all the damage he shows up with is on his head and front shoulders. He is a great cat and intelligent as can be. He’s had several names so far: Yeller Feller, Tippy, Boxer, and more recently, Boomerang (given his comings and goings). He does always come back, though.
    The other two do not like that he is here now, but they have about stopped the hissing. Boomer pays them no attention. He tries to be friends, but the indoor snobs aren’t being very receptive.
    Indoor or outdoor kitties? I can tell you that the outdoor cats will cost you more money cuz there are so many things that can happen to them and that’s a trip to the vet. Cha-ching! $$$

    • Looks like you have learned from experience and are doing your best to balancee the good with the bad. I think a lot of your choice depends on the kitty. Looks like you’ve made good choices.


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