Indoor Cats Versus Outdoor Cats: The Pros and Cons
Everybody has heard of indoor cats and outdoor cats but what are the pros and cons of having indoor cats versus outdoor cats. Here in Northern Colorado, there are a lot of people who have cats that are 100% indoors, cats that are outdoors, cats that are indoor/outdoor, and cats that do a little bit of both. This weeks video series entry covers that exact topic and breaks down the differences between indoor and outdoor cats.
Outdoor cats tend to have an average lifespan of two to five years which isn’t terribly long. In our area, Fort Collins, we have a lot of predators especially for those who live near the foothills. When you have a predator problem that’s something to keep in mind. Cats are great hunters and can be good at defending themselves but not when up against a coyote or other larger predatory animals.
Indoor and outdoor cats should be using a flea preventative every 30 days; be that topical or oral. This is especially important for outdoor cats who are more likely to be exposed to fleas.
Try to bring your cat indoor at night. When you have an indoor cat this isn’t a problem but for outdoor cats bringing them in at night helps keep them safe. Downside is cats like to hide and wander so it may not always be possible to bring them in at night. If that’s the case you should have an enclosure for them they can access outside to provide shelter and warmth.
If this outside time is the biggest reason why you’re considering an outdoor cat consider building or purchasing a catio (cat-patio) which is a fenced in area in your yard that your cats can be in. Your cats are technically going outside but they are still contained within a safe environment.
Outdoor cats should be spayed and neutered. We always recommend this but especially for outdoor cats. They can get pregnant at a very young age which will also contribute to the pet overpopulation.
Permanent identification is recommended for all pets but especially for pets that will be going outside a lot. Permanent identification includes things like microchips or tattoos (tattoos being done by a licensed veterinarian who is authorized to do that). A breakaway collar is also important to have but this will mean you’ll be having to replace collars a lot more frequently than with an indoor cat.
Outdoor cats tend to have more health problems than indoor cats. Common health problems in outdoor cats are heat stroke and hypothermia, especially if they get stuck in warm or cold weather. Other times, your cat might get stuck in an area such as a neighbors garage and cannot make it home in bad weather. This can lead to bacterial and various other viral infections. If you are planning on having your cat be outdoors, make sure your veterinarian knows this. They will want to recommend more vaccines than for indoor cats due to what they will be potentially exposed to.
Wounds. Cats get into fights with other cats or other animals. These wounds can develop into abscesses and require veterinary treatment. It’s always good to have a pet first-aid kit on hand but deep wounds require proper medical care and may require stitches and antibiotics.
- Outdoor cats have an average lifespan of two to five years.
- More likely to be exposed to fleas.
- May not always be able to bring them in at night and keep them safe from predators.
- If they are not spayed and neutered they may contribute to the pet overpopulation problem we have in the United States.
- Replace collars and tags more often.
- More health problems that indoor cats.
- Outdoor cats are more susceptible to getting wounds and ingesting toxic substances.
Indoor cats lifespan averages between ten to fifteen years, but they can live for even longer.
Indoor cats tend to be more prone to obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle because they are contained and don’t have as many natural world stimulants as outdoor cats. This can be replicated by having lots of toys, cat trees, and cat perches. You can also place a bird feeder outside a window so your cats can get that stimulation of watching and hearing birds. As mentioned earlier, catios are also a great way to get your cat outdoor time while being secure.
Less vaccinations are typically required for indoor cats. Vaccinations can get expensive and you can reduce the cost of annual vaccines by keeping your cats indoors as they don’t need as many.
If you opt not to use flea protection on your indoor cat they are less likely to get fleas unless you’re in a high flea area because they won’t be going into flea-infested areas. If you have a strictly indoor cat and cats that are going outdoors, you should give you indoor cat flea protection just in case an outdoor cat were to bring some home.
The biggest reason people have outdoor cats is so that they can get more activity and stimulation and because they feel bad about containing them indoors. This is great but you can replicate a lot of those outdoor activities inside or with a catio. Bringing outdoor activities inside or investing is a catio is a great way to keep your indoor cats active and stimulated while keeping them safe.
Catio not an option? Consider leash training your cat. This works best when your cat is younger but you can teach older cats how to walk on a leash and harness. It takes time and patience but can be done most of the time. Some cats will 100% not take to being on a leash and harnesses.
- Indoor cats average lifespan is between ten to fifteen years.
- Tend to be more prone to obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle but this can be counteracted with stimulation and things like a catio.
- Less vaccinations required annually.
- They are less likely to get fleas.
- You can replicate most outdoor activities and stimulants on the inside.
- Indoor cats are generally safer since they don’t have to deal with predators, wounds, fights, and illnesses due to overexposure.
Let us know your thoughts on indoor cats versus outdoor cats and if there are any pros or cons we missed.