Indoor Cats Live Longer
The debate over indoor cats vs. outdoor cats isn't a new one. There are folks strictly for keeping cats indoors, people on the other end who never let their cat inside, and those in the middle, who have indoor/outdoor cats.
I used to be a middle-of-the road cat owner. My cat Santo was allowed in and out as he pleased, for many years. He got into the occasional fight, ate the occasional bad piece of someone's garbage, and brought in the occasional dead bird. But that all ended abruptly when he disappeared for two weeks, at age 9. I placed "lost" ads in the newspaper, stuck signs up around town, cried, prayed, and remained as hopeful as possible.
My poor kitty literally dragged himself home five pounds lighter and toting a dislocated hip from what the vet guessed was a healthy blow from a car. One extremely expensive surgery and many follow-up appointments later, I decided that was it. He was never going outside again, no matter how much he yowled, protested, and rattled the blinds.
Once I became an indoor cat person, I realized many things that just weren't apparent to me before. If you are on the fence, so to speak, regarding keeping your cat inside, mull these thoughts over.
- Your cat will live longer.
Let's say the average cat will live to be fourteen. If that same cat lives 100% outside it can drop to about four years. Indoor/outdoor cats can fall anywhere in the middle. Granted, there are exceptions to every rule as I have a friend who has an indoor/outdoor kitty that is pushing 17. But tally up numerous diseases, catfights, cars, dogs and cat haters, and the odds are quickly stacked against your cat.
- Your neighbors will like you better.
No one cares for cat prints on their car or having their prized petunias being used as a litter box, and it doesn't matter if your cat is the darling of the neighborhood. I once had a neighbor call me to report that she was at the grocery store. Upon arrival, she turned around to get her baby out his car seat. She found Santo happily draped across her son's lap (he was a bit of a weird cat). It turned out fine but what if her windows had been open and he decided to head out? That would have been terrible for her to have assumed that responsibility.
- No fleas! No dirt!
Fleas and other parasites come from outside. Keep kitty in and you don't have that mess to deal with. I can't count the number of times Santo came in covered in grease from having taken a nap under someone's car. Thankfully, he was a good bath-taker.
- They can't get hit by a car in your kitchen.
Silly thought, but true, unless you park inside.
- Your cat won't be responsible for loss of wildlife.
As I said, Santo brought me birds. And lizards. And once even a jackrabbit! Yes, that's cat nature, normal and true. But it also makes for unhappy non-cat neighbors who enjoy attracting birds and squirrels to their yard. Buy your kitty lots of fun, fuzzy, feathered toys and play inside. They also won't be exposed to disease or parasites sometimes accompanied by wildlife.
Santo made it to almost seventeen years old before I lost him to kidney failure and cancer. I cannot say for sure, but I'd wager he wouldn't have made it that long had he continued to go outside. He was too friendly, too laid back, and too prone to go for car rides with the neighbors.
Since his death, I have adopted two FIV-positive cats that are strictly indoors for all of the above reasons and then some. They appear happy and content to watch the birds and squirrels from the safety of our front window, and I'm more secure in knowing I'm keeping them as safe as possible.
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