Letting Cats Outside, Is It Okay?

The Great Indoor/Outdoor Debate

It's a question all cat owners must ask themselves; "Should I let my cats outside?" The opinions and feelings of cat lovers are varied. Lets take a closer look.

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I have been on both sides of this topic. I grew up in a small city, and our cats always went outside.

They were careful about crossing the street, and mostly stayed in the yard. They all lived full lives as well.

Now, as the owner of two great Maine Coon cats, we keep them indoors. Our breeder specified it, and I agreed. You may wonder why I see things in a different light.

maine coon cat outside on a leashParker goes outside on a leash - a fun, safe way to enjoy the great outdoors!

Most veterinarians and experts agree that cats do not need to go outside.

In fact, the benefits of keeping them in far outweigh the risks of letting them out.

If your cat or kitten came from a breeder, you probably were required to agree to a few terms.

Spaying or neutering of your cat, no declawing, and keeping your new pet as an indoor cat.

Did you wonder why that is? Nowadays, as pet owners are becoming more conscious and aware, more and more people are doing their best to make responsible choices for their pets.

The old belief is that we need to let our cats outside in order for them to be healthy, happy and fulfilled. After all, they really want to go out! But just like children, animals don't necessarily know what's best for themselves.

Life Span:

The life expectancy for outdoor cats is roughly 4-5 years. For indoor cats, 12-15 years is average with many healthy cats living to be about 20 years old!

Simply by keeping your cat inside the house, you protect him from a variety of dangers. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that these things probably won't happen.

But this is exactly why the life span of an outdoor cat is so short. Here are some real risks involved in letting cats outside:

"What will really happen if I let my cats outside?"

  • Being hit by a car
  • Death or injury by dog attacks
  • Being attacked by wild animals
  • Parasites: fleas, ticks, worms etc. (Lyme disease in cats is a real danger. Tapeworms come from fleas. And heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes.)
  • Getting lost or picked up by Animal Control
  • Being stolen and used for sadistic purposes
  • Being stolen and used as laboratory animals
  • Being poisoned either accidentally or intentionally
  • Roaming into neighbors yards, causing irritation
  • Death or injury caused by cat fights
  • Picking up infectious diseases from other cats, such as:
  • Feline Distemper, which is highly contagious and deadly
  • Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) There are multiple varieties
  • FELV: Feline Leukemia, the most common killer of pet cats. An infected cat will spread it before any symptoms are shown
  • FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which is always fatal. Cats who contract it are usually euthanized

brown maine coon cat looking outsideChurch the Maine Coon cat, enjoying the view outside

Although we all know there are lots of risks for letting cats outside, seeing it listed out like this puts it in a pretty strong light.

If you find that your cat is obsessed with escaping (it's a bit like living in a house with children in the center of an amusement park) there is one popular solution. 

Outdoor cat enclosures are gaining popularity among indoor cat owners. They provide cats with the outdoor time they crave, in a safe way.

Of course, the choice is completely up to each owner. But new cat owners of any breed, may be wondering, "Should cats go outdoors?" or "Do I need to let my cats outside for their overall health or happiness?"

The short answer is no. Experts agree that indoor cats can live happy, fulfilling lives, right in the house.

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