Cats don’t have to be wild animals. While many people think that cats should be outside most of the day with the freedom to roam, there are quite a few advantages of having an indoor cat. They need a little more work and attention than their independent counterparts, but this is a trade-off for safety and better health. Your cat will be safer from external threats like cars, other cats, and even parasites and viruses by being an indoor cat.
When you first bring your cat home, you have to decide if they’re going to be an indoor or outdoor cat. Sometimes this decision will already be made for you, such as a rescue cat who isn’t allowed to be outdoors. However, in the case of a cat or an adult cat without too much baggage it will be up to you to decide if your cat is an indoor or outdoor animal.
You don’t have to make this decision right away. When you first bring a cat home, you will have to keep them indoors for a little while anyway. For an adult cat that you’ve adopted, you should give it two or three weeks indoors before you take it outside. This time will help them get accustomed to their new surroundings and make sure they will come back home afterwards. For a kitten, they need to be around 6 months old and have been neutered before you let them outside on their own. After this time period is up, you don’t necessarily have to let your cat out alone into the world. You should consider keeping this indoors arrangement going for your cat’s benefit.
Health Benefits of Having an Indoor Cat
There are quite a few health benefits to having an indoor cat. A big one is exposure to parasites and other viruses found outside. Not everything outside your house is sanitary for your cat. Cats are much more likely to contract parasites when they are outdoors. Soil outdoors is often contaminated with parasites that can be picked up by your cat. Roundworms and tapeworms can be particularly dangerous. While treating your cat with worming tablets can prevent this, it isn’t 100%. Even a fully wormed cat might contract a parasite. Often these tablets just aren’t as effective as owners think. Indoor cats avoid these problems.
There are also viruses that a cat can catch outdoors that an indoor cat isn’t exposed to. It is important to keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date even if they’re staying inside, but you run a much bigger risk of your cat catching something by allowing them outside. Stray cats can carry all sorts of diseases that your cat could end up contracting. Having an indoor cat is a good way to prevent these problems.
An indoor cat brings its own health concerns, but they are different concerns. With an indoor cat, your biggest health concern is exercise and activity levels. You will need to try harder to make sure your indoor cat is getting plenty of exercise. Thankfully, it is quite easy to take some steps to ensure they’re staying entertained. Trips outside while supervised are another good way of giving your indoor cat exercise without running any risks. You also need to be careful about their diet to ensure that it is suited for an indoor cat. Buying indoor cat specific food can help you manage their diet and weight.
Preventing Harm to Other Animals
Your cat might be a sweet animal at home who enjoys cuddling and playing, but outdoors they’re a natural hunter. Even the gentlest cat has a natural instinct to hunt other animals. This can cause problems both for local wildlife and your cat. If your cat hunts a rat while outdoors, they could contradict diseases from attacking it. Even animals that we often think of as relatively clean can carry viruses and parasites. Attacking a bird might cause your cat as many health problems as biting into a rat. Having an indoor cat keeps this problem at bay since their interaction with local wildlife is going to be limited by whatever they encounter in your home. There is less risk of a health problem from your cat catching a spider than a rat.
While your cat might do themselves harm from hunting outside the home, they also do a lot of harm to other animals. The number of animals killed by outdoors cats is truly staggering. 3.7 billion birds are killed by cats in the US every year. To put that number into context, only a fraction of that many birds were killed in China’s anti-sparrow campaign in the 50s. In the UK, an estimated 27 million birds are killed by cats. This is just a fraction of the 278 Million prey animals which outdoor cats are estimated to kill.
While cats are natural hunters, their numbers and concentration in urban centres make this level of prey killed a problem. A concentrated assault on local wildlife from outdoor cats causes problems for preserving a naturally balanced eco-system. Cats hunting could cause conservation problems for birds and other prey animals. Keeping an indoor cat can do a lot for ensuring wildlife is protected.
Safety of Your Cat
Outside of the dangers your outdoor cat could pose to other animals, the great outdoors is full of bigger dangers to them. Cities are designed around people, not their pets. While most places have plenty of green spaces around, this isn’t where cats tend to dwell outdoors. The first danger most people think of is roads. Cars aren’t exactly built to be cat safe, or people safe for that matter. Nearly a quarter of a million cats are killed by cars each year, making this a serious problem. In addition to this number, many more cats are hit but not killed by drivers.
Even if a cat survives a run in with a car, they might have sustained serious damage. Your cat might not be in much of a state to go outside again after a run-in with a car. Worse, your cat might not be able to find their way home after a dangerous encounter. This will leave you wondering just what happened to your cat and why they haven’t come home. Roads are incredibly dangerous places for cats to play and it is hard for your pet to avoid them. Even if you live in a quiet enough area, you can’t be certain of where your cat is going.
The safest way to avoid your cat being hurt by cars or roads is to have an indoor cat. Cats aren’t aware of the dangers that can be caused by being outside. Many of them will wander quite far looking for prey or entertainment. They won’t see the danger of a car approaching and could end up quite hurt. While an indoor cat will need more work to keep entertained and happy, it is often safer than trusting them near roads.
Cat Fights Don’t Happen to an Indoor Cat
Cars aren’t the only dangers to outdoor cats. Indoor cats are free from the worry of running into other unfriendly cats, but outdoor cats don’t have that luxury. Most people have heard cat fights going on around them. The tell-tale screeching and scratching sounds should be a warning of how encounters with other cats outdoors tend to go down. Cats are territorial animals and fights are a common occurrence for those who spend a lot of time outside the house.
Even if your cat is quite good natured and easy going, you can’t be sure they won’t get into a fight with another cat. They might run into a territorial and less friendly cat that may attack yours. Cats can get quite badly hurt from fighting each other. Even worse, if any blood is drawn you run the risk of your cat getting all sorts of infections. By something getting into your cat’s blood they are liable to catch things from strays or the other cats they’re fighting with. Even if no diseases are around, they might just come home badly hurt from a cat fight.
The best way to avoid your cat getting hurt by other cats, or hurting another cat themselves, is to have an indoor cat. There are other predators out in the wild that could do even more damage as well as other cats. Depending on where you live, there is the danger of foxes being aggressive towards a cat. That’s a fight that most cats can’t win. While cats are lethal to birds, they often do each other just as much damage. The best way to avoid your cat getting hurt or hurting other animals is to keep an indoor cat.
Should you have an Indoor Cat?
Those are some of the biggest risks that you can avoid by having an indoor cat. However, that lifestyle isn’t perfect either. Indoor cats are almost entirely dependent on their owner for stimulation, meaning that even if you do your best to keep them entertained they might become clingy or prone to stress when you’re not home. Neither lifestyle is perfect, but an indoor cat has some major benefits compared with letting your cat roam free. For most people, an indoor cat carries a lot more advantages than drawbacks.