Indoor vs Outdoor
One of the most pondered questions when getting a new cat, or if you already have your cat, is “Should I keep him inside, or do I let him go out to play?” This, of course, is a personal choice for you, and while we do believe that an indoor cat is a much safer cat all around, we have compiled some things to consider for both indoor and outdoor options. Some pros and cons for each and some ideas to help your cat live his best life, whether indoor, outdoor, or a little of both!
Safety. Cats are normally much safer if they are kept inside. There are no cars or predators like dogs or local wildlife, the potential to get into fights with strange cats is managed, plants and any potential dangers can also be managed by you and they are far less likely to get contract a fatal disease such as FeLV (feline leukemia virus) or other illnesses
For indoor cats it’s very important to keep them stimulated, both mentally and physically, so be sure that your cat has plenty of play toys and climbing, elevated structures, and places to explore and do his cat thing! It’s also important that you interact with your cat on a daily basis, too, in order to connect and create that cat-human bond between the two of you. As far as toys go, there are many you can get to interact with your cat as well as toys that are techie and automated to help your cat get his play on if you have to be gone during the day. There are also a number of automatic cat feeders and food puzzles that can assist in keeping kitty happy and stimulated, and don’t forget the water fountains available to help keep your furbaby hydrated! You can find plenty of unique cat scratchers out there, too, and these are important for an indoor cat as well. Cats use them to stretch, pull the dead nail sheath off, and mark their territory. Much better to have plenty of cat scratchers around, both vertical and horizontal, than to have your cat start using furniture because there isn’t anything better available.
Indoor cats can become dependent on you for entertainment, and their entertainment is their physical and emotional stimulation. This is extremely important for your cat and you’ll need to invest not only in the ‘equipment’ or toys and accessories such as perches, climbing apparatus, and scratchers for environmental stimulation, but also invest your time into playing with and interacting with them.
You’ll need to be sure that their litterbox is always clean so as not to deter them from using it, which means scooping at least once a day, preferably twice. Although this isn’t too difficult, it is something that absolutely needs to be done!
Never leave your cat alone without physical and emotional stimulation for any long periods of time. This can cause emotional and behavioral issues to come up and can then be a long road back to a healthy and happy cat! If you have to be gone for several days, make sure you have someone that can check in on kitty and play with him several times a day to give him the activity his mind and body need.
The pro’s to allowing your cat to explore the outdoors is just that… being able to get his physical and mental/emotional stimulation from the outdoors. They will most likely get an adequate amount of physical exercise outdoors as well as mental stimulation through hunting attempts, exploration, and discovery.
With a cat that is allowed outdoors, your responsibility falls in making sure that your cat has adequate protection against disease, so vaccinations, flea and tick protection as well as his annual health exams as cats allowed outdoors are certainly exposed to more environmental factors. You’ll also want to make sure that your cat is microchipped as well as has a collar (be sure it’s an easy breakaway collar) with your contact information on it just in case he is scooped up by someone, thinking he might be a stray, or finds himself lost, not able to find his way back home, or even worse, gets injured and ends up at an animal control center. You’ll want to make sure you observe your cat frequently if he spends time outside to make sure that he is healthy. If you notice something is wrong, or even off in his behavior, as cats are masters at hiding any injury or illness, be sure and monitor him or take him to your trusted veteranarian. For a list of possible signs of illness in your cat, you can click here. If your cat is displaying signs that are not listed on our Signs of Illness page, definitely contact your veteranarian to get their opinion. You know your cat best, so if you suspect something is off with your little one, definitely call your vet and get their opinion!
With cats allowed to venture outside, you will have to be mindful of the potential for fleas, ticks, and other problems that can be picked up from being in the great outdoors. You’ll also have the worry about other cats getting into fights with yours, as well as predators, dogs, cars, and the potential for getting hurt on a fence, stuck in a tree, or worse. This is why having your cat collared with tags, and chipped, is so important. It’s good to have a microchip just in case your cat loses his collar, too, that way if they are lost and then found, you can be located in order to get your furbaby home to you! Again, always use breakaway collars in case they get caught up in something, as strangulation is a real possibility),
You’ll also want to be sure your cat is protected with some extra vaccinations against things like FeLV (feline leukemia virus) and other potentially life-threatening diseases. Check your local rules and regulations, as well, because some areas don’t allow cats to be outside if they're not contained or leashed.
Don’t allow your cat to be outside if he is declawed in any way. This leaves him completely defenseless to escape danger and defend himself. Outdoor cats can have a significantly shortened life due to accidents and/or disease, including cancer caused by environmental factors. Don’t let your cat outside without a collar and microchip, and it’s not really a good idea to let your cat stay out overnight. More accidents can occur due to limited vision with drivers in the dark and there may be more predators out and about in the absence of people.
Don’t allow your cat outside if he or she is not fixed. This can cause problems with other cats that might be around. A female in heat can get into fights or pregnant and Toms (un-neutered males) that can be extremely territorial. If you’re going to make the decision to allow your cat outdoors it’s a MUST that you have him or her fixed, although it’s highly recommended to have indoor cats fixed as well for health issues. Be a responsible cat owner by getting your cat fixed.
These are a few things to consider when making the decision to either keep your cat indoors or allow them to venture out. I am a proponent of keeping kitties in, but I do understand that it isn't always possible, and sometimes not practical. Some cats do have a strong desire to be outside, but if you'd like to try and keep your cat inside instead of allowing him to wander, you can always try bringing the outdoors in. Cat-safe plants, real homemade cat trees made from wood, or a fenced-in, cat secure area, like a Catio are some great ideas. It's always safest, in my opinion, to keep your furry feline friend inside, so if possible, do what you can to create a happy indoor environment. If you're getting a kitten, consider keeping him indoors, as kittens kept inside from the start usually stay happy there!
As always, if you have questions, we’re here to help whenever we can! Feel free to email us at