Why It's Safer and Healthier for Cats to Stay Inside

If you feel your kitty should roam the great outdoors, you’re not alone. Many cat lovers think their cat is happiest lounging in the fresh air or stalking unsuspecting prey.

However, there are many reasons it’s safer for your kitty to stay inside (traffic is just one), and cat owners need to be aware of the many dangers of life outdoors.


Why Kitties are Safer Inside

According to cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett,

In general, a cat who spends his entire life indoors will live many years longer than a cat restricted exclusively to the outdoors. If your cat has indoor/outdoor access, chances are he’ll live longer than the exclusively outdoor feline but he still faces increased risks to his health and safety that can impact lifespan.

In fact, statistics show that cats that go outdoors (or live exclusively outdoors) don't often live past the age of 5 years, whereas cats that live exclusively inside average 15+ years (and can live to 18-20 years)! That means indoor-only cats live, on average, 3 times longer than outdoor cats. But why?

Speeding vehicles are a major source of untimely deaths for cats. Plus, there are diseases, cat fights, predators, unpleasant neighbors, and other factors that impact an outdoor cat's life expectancy. 



According to The American Feral Cat Coalition, there are approximately 60 million feral or homeless stray cats living in the U.S. Many of these cats have never been vaccinated and may carry diseases that can be passed on to your cat if he or she comes into contact with them. Some of those diseases can be serious and, sometimes, life-threatening. Examples include:


Of course, FeLV and panleukopenia are easily prevented with vaccines. The other infections, though, cannot be prevented with vaccines - they must be avoided the old-fashioned way (by just staying away from those who are infected). Of course, spaying and neutering cats - including feral cats - can cut down on risky behaviors that spread FIV (which is only spread through sexual contact and deep bite wounds). 


While outside, cats must defend against danger

At Risk for Predators

While cats may fancy themselves great predators (and they are - in the right context!), they're still not the top of the food chain. In fact, coyotes, eagles, hawks, large owls, raccoons (yes, really), and your friendly neighborhood dog(s) can pose serious threats to your cat even in the middle of a city. In suburban and rural areas, predation risk for your cat increases.  "Even with a full set of fangs and claws, the cat rarely has a chance when caught outside, and declawed cats are even more at risk.”

There’s a lot that can happen to your cats if you allow them to roam - and, so far, we've only looked at dangers from other animals! Add people (and our cars) into the mix, and there's yet more danger.


Unfriendly Neighbors

No one wants to think another person would harm an animal, but unfortunately it happens. All you have to do is scroll through the "lost pet" pages on Facebook (or other social media), and it won't take long to find stories of unfriendly neighbors trapping cats and taking them away, poisoning pets, or calling animal control to pick up the "strays".

It doesn’t have to be a nearby neighbor that you know, either. One thing that many people don’t realize is how far their housecat can roam:

“A study of 10 house cats and seven farm cats published in the European ecology journal Ecography found that on average, the house cats covered more ground than the farm cats — at night, the house cats moved within an average area of nearly 20 acres, compared to just over 6 acres for the farm cats. (Source: Petfinder)


Keeping Kitty Safe and Happy

Make the indoors fun and engaging for your kittyIf you must let your cats out, go outside with them. A little supervision is a good thing. If you have a fenced yard, your cat can wander in there under your watchful eye, though it's safest to install secure cat-fencing to make sure your fluffy jumping machine doesn't escape. (Purrfect Fence is an example of this type of fencing, but there are many kinds - some that you can do yourself!)

And believe it or not, cats can be trained to walk on a harness and leash! Contact us if you'd like some training pointers. And we recommend that you make an appointment to make sure your cat has the vaccines and preventives onboard that they'll need for protection for going outside. Remember - even if Kitty is supervised, s/he still needs all the important vaccines and parasite preventives.

If you’re concerned about your kitty being bored inside, then make the inside interesting. Get a kitty condo so your cat can go climbing. Play with your cat daily. Get some catnip. Indoor cats can live rich, happy lives, and you can help them.





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