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January 2023

Indoor Cats vs Outdoor Cats: What You Need to Consider

Behaviour & TrainingCare

There's no denying that cats love the outdoors. They're always ready to rush outside when the door is open, or sitting at the window watching the world go by with keen interest. There's no doubt they have the desire to roam. But do cats need to go outside?

Like their human owners, a cat's lifestyle will change their exposure to certain risk factors. We'll take you through everything you need to know so that you can make the best decision for your furry friend.

The Lifestyle Of Outdoor Cats

While your cat might appear to be an eager adventurer just waiting to get their paws outside, there are a few downsides that come with keeping cats outside, including:

  • Traffic accident-related injuries and fatalities.
  • Health issues from the weather, like heat stroke and hypothermia.
  • Injuries from cat fights and other pets like dogs or wild animals.
  • Exposure to diseases like cat flu and FIV, and parasites like fleas and worms.
  • Risk of poisoning – either through baits or accidental poisoning from plants or other substances.
  • Impact on the environment from cats preying on native wildlife.

How To Keep Your Outdoor Cat Safe

If you decide to allow your cat to roam, you can take a few steps to help keep them safe:

  • Microchip and register your cat to ensure you’re contactable if they get lost or picked up by someone.
  • Use flea and worm treatments.
  • Try and ensure your cat stays inside at night. You should check your council's local laws regarding cat curfews.
  • Keep their vaccinations up to date.

We recommend checking with your local council for more on cat ownership laws.

Are Cats Allowed Outside?

Another important thing to consider is the restrictions around outdoor cats. Cat parents have recently been urged to keep their feline friends inside. While cute and cuddly for us, cats have a reputation for killing native wildlife, such as birds.

Some places around the nation have brought in legislation to ban owners from allowing their cats outside, while others have imposed curfews to limit the times cats are outside.

Before you decide whether you want to let your cat outside, it's always best to check with your local council on the rules.

The Comforts Of Being An Indoor Cat

Unlike their outdoor counterparts, an indoor cat enjoys a life of comfort and safety. Keeping cats inside and away from risks is an obvious solution to keep them healthy. There's less chance of them catching diseases and pesky parasites like fleas and worms. Plus, they'll avoid nasty injuries from cat fights, like abscesses and other wounds.

While keeping them indoors helps them stay safe, it does come with some downsides, such as:

  • House damage from scratching and marking, or damage from your cat jumping up on furniture items.
  • Hazards like indoor plants or other chemicals.
    Escaping outdoors can pose more risk due to their lack of outside awareness.
  • Obesity and other health complications from a lack of exercise.
  • The need for extra enrichment and playtime.

How To Keep Indoor Cats Entertained

If you decide to keep your cat indoors, you will need to do a few things to help ensure they're happy and healthy. Despite their ability to sleep for hours on end, it's easy for an indoor cat to go stir crazy without a way to burn off their excess energy.

  • Play: One of the best ways to do this is to play with your cat regularly. There are a range of cat toys for indoor cats that will help them unleash their desire to run, pounce and stalk. Try a range of toys from feathers to cat wands and see which one your cat loves best. You can also hide treats around the house to encourage their natural hunting behaviour.
  • Bird watching: Even cats with a guaranteed meal or two a day will still lick their lips at the sight of a bird perched outside. Setting up a bird-watching station allows your cat to indulge in their instincts without damaging the wildlife. Place a bird feeder or bird bath near a window. Your cat will have hours of viewing, all from the safety of indoors.
  • Companion pets: As ideal as it would be to stay home all day with your cat, sometimes that isn't a viable option. Some cats will love to have a companion to keep them company throughout the day.
  • Cat-friendly furniture: Cats are natural climbers. Cat trees or cat walkways are a great way to get them up from bed and roaming around the house. Cat trees come in a wide range of options and sizes if you have a small space.

The Best Of Both Worlds

If you still want to give your feline friend a taste of the outside world, you can do both! One popular option is outdoor cat enclosures. It's as easy as providing them with a screened or fenced area. These enclosures are a great way to let your indoor cat run outside or soak up the sun without the risks. Cat-proof the area, ensuring there are no gaps or holes that will lead to your cat escaping.

If a cat run isn't viable, you can always take your cat for a walk. It might be the subject of hilarious online videos, but walking your cat on a leash is possible. It's best to start them young, training them to be comfortable with the leash and harness. Start slowly by taking them into the backyard on short trips. Once they get more comfortable, you can venture out a little further.

When deciding what's best for your cat, you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons. Your feline friend can easily live a happy life indoors with the right enrichment. However, the best of both worlds with an outdoor run can create a great middle-ground for adventurous cats.

Indoor Vs Outdoor Cats FAQs

Is it cruel to keep a cat inside?

This is a common question from cat owners. However, keeping your cat inside can be a safer and healthier option. With added enrichment, your cat can live a full and happy life from the safety of indoors.

Are indoor plants for cats safe?

There are plenty of options for cat-safe indoor plants. However, it's important to note that some plants can be poisonous to our feline friends. It's always best to check with a vet before buying a plant.

Do indoor cats need to be wormed?

Yes, even indoor cats need regular worming. Even if your cat doesn't leave the house, they can still pick up worms. These worms can come from various sources, from stray animals that have gotten into your backyard, a parasite that has hitched a ride