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Indoor cat vs outdoor cat? Advantages and disadvantages!

Updated on March 29, 2012
Five cute kittens
Five cute kittens

Indoor cat or outdoor cat?

If you should have an indoor cat or an outdoor cat can be discussed both back and forth endlessly. There are advantages and disadvantages however you choose. People often emphasize the cat's hunting instinct when talking about the cats need to be outside to make them feel good. Inside Cat Supporters usually on the other hand address all hazards associated with outdoor cats as an argument that cats should be indoors.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages both to let the cat being out and having the indoor cat. Things you should weigh when deciding for outdoor cat or indoor cat is the housing you have and if you have one or more cats.

The Law on Protection of dogs and cats, said: "Dogs and cats must be kept under supervision as the basis of their nature and other circumstances necessary to prevent them causing damage or substantial inconvenience." This law does not prohibit cats running loose outside, but you should probably think twice before placing a cat in urban areas, because you never can supervise an outdoor cat, so as not to cause inconvenience to defecate in the children's sandbox, or mark territory at a neighbor's mailbox. Animal Welfare Act states that "Animals must be treated well and protected from unnecessary suffering and disease". If you think that your cat starts to use the neighbor's newly planted flowers or the neighborhood children's sandbox as a toilet. Your neighbors cats might not be a problem, but often there is someone in the neighborhood who do not like cats and then your cat can suffer very badly.

Indoor or outdoor cats?
Indoor or outdoor cats?

Indoor Cats - benefits

If a cat keeps stimulated and perhaps have a feline friend it might feel fine indoors. Indoor cats generally live longer than outdoor cats because it is not exposed to as many risks as it is indoors. There are no cars or dangerous wild animals indoors that can expose your cat at risk. An indoor cat could not equally be exposed to contagious diseases. An indoor cat is usually safer and quieter than an outdoor cat, because it does not become a victim of people who do not like cats, or children who do not understand that one should be kind to the cat. An indoor cat is usually more affectionate than outdoor cats because it spends more time with you. Your cat will never be dirty and wet, or full of ticks.You dont have to worry about the cat destroying the neighbor's newly planted flower bed or defecate in the children's sandbox.

Indoor Cats - disadvantages

If the apartment is small there is not as good chances for the cat to move and the cat might become overweight. Although the indoor environment is safer for your cat, there are dangers even indoors, such as electrical cords, poisonous plants, or hot cooker. If you have an indoor cat, the risk of ruined furniture and tapestries is much greater. A cat that does not receive sufficient stimulation is easily bored and may have behavioral problems.

Things to consider when you have an indoor cat

If you choose to have an indoor cat, maybe you have to think a little harder for the cat to have a good life. An indoor cat requires a little more from you, but often give much more back. You must ensure that the cat has enough space and employment, so it will not get bored. The cat may need a little extra fun and stimulation, so take the time to play with the cat for a while each day. Are you gone a lot, you might want to have two cats, so they have the company of each other.

You must also ensure that the indoor environment is safe for your cat. There are many houseplants that are toxic to cats. Never leave windows and doors open, because the cat's curiosity might make it eventually step out. Once it has come out, it will easily be frightened or confused. It is important to understand the behavior of cats and how they think.

Outdoor cat - benefits

An outdoor cat get much exercise and will not become overweight that easy. An outdoor cat is rarely bored. The cat gets it´s hunting instinct in a natural way.

Outdoor cat - Cons

An outdoor cat often live a dangerous life. It can get hit and injured by a car. Many people do not like cats and subjecting them to cruelty. Outdoor cats risk to a greater extent of becoming infected with various diseases. If there are many cats in your area, chances are your cat gets into fights and is coming home with scratches and bites. Stray cats can often tempt the neighborliness of the cats decides to cheek-marking a neighbor's patio furniture or mailbox. You can never teach your cat not to poop in the neighbor's rebates or in the neighboring children's sandbox.

I hope you enjoyed this article about indoor cats versus outdoor cats!


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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have a cat that is indoor/outdoor and that has always been best for me. No litter boxes and most of the summer she only comes around to eat or I go out and brush her or play with her some. She is 17 now though and winter is a lot of long sleeps and not too much outdoors, just for the one important thing. I really love her and probably can't count on having her too much longer. I dread it.

    • profile image

      Wayne Tilden 6 years ago

      We own an older cat who is currently an indoor cat. Prior to moving into a small apartment she was an indoor/outdoor cat.

      We were given a purebred boxer. The dog wanted to play with the cat. The cat was afraid of the dog and "created" her own environment in the two back bedrooms, becoming an indoor cat.

      We are in a large one bedroom apartment, now, and she is pleased to sit on the window sills and watch the outside. She plays with the "zip strips" from milk bottle openings, as well as washing with a wash cloth, when she gets the chance.

      Otherwise she just sleeps on the bed, on a chair, or on one of us.

      She has become very friendly with us both and seems content to be an inside cat.

      She learned to adapt on her own.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good points, especially for someone just getting a kitty. We have three cats and all are indoors, so they never get bored. Always chasing each other around the house. Outside we put them on long leashes in our back yard to keep them safe. Thanks for sharing!

    • lejonkung profile image

      lejonkung 6 years ago

      Thank you Lizzy for sharing that story with us! As a true animal friend i love to hear stories like that, bless you!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hello--nice to meet another cat afficionado.

      We have 4 cats, and I stand firmly on the side of the indoor-only cats.

      3 We got as kittens; the last one was outside, we had no idea where he came from, but he was injured, and came right up to my husband. We asked around to see if anyone had lost a cat; no one had ever seen him before, so we took him in, after having him vetted to be sure he was disease-free. We also had him fixed.

      The vet said he was probably about 8 months old, but he must have been outside for at least a little while, as he arrived with a bird in his mouth. (The bird recovered & flew off while my husband was examining his wound.)

      Even though he apparently began as an outdoor kitty, he has adjusted very well to being indoor-only, to the point that if I put on his harness & leash to take him outside for a while, he acts scared, and can't struggles to get back into the house.

      The majority of cats can likewise make this adjustment. There will always be your 'escape artists,' but I believe, on the whole, all cats are better off inside.

      Interesting hub..

    • lejonkung profile image

      lejonkung 6 years ago

      Paw-Paw John: Thanks for the great answer!

      I totally agree with you that a cat that has been outside shall not be turned in to an indoor cat and vice versa.

      My friend have an indoor cat and tried to take it outside and it was very very scared.

      Meisjunk: Thanks for the answer!

      It seems that you have found a great solution for your cat that enables it to be outside aswell!

      You seem to have a really nice place for a healthy cat to live in!

    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Good hub. I currently have an indoor cat. It was more out of necessity because he was 4 years old by the time he came to us, and we are afraid he won't be able to take care of himself (i.e. if he gets into a cat fight) if he were to be left outside.

      However, we do make sure he has plenty to occupy himself with, and when we hang out outside, he is allowed in the backyard. It requires us to keep an eye out that he doesn't wander, but he's been good about it so far!

      Our previous cat was one that was allowed outside whenever she wanted, but she essentially lived inside with us. I think I prefer that middle ground rather than all outside or all inside for cats.

    • Paw-Paw John profile image

      Paw-Paw John 6 years ago from Greenville, SC

      An excellent comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing a cat outdoor. As a cat rescuer, I strongly recommend, where possible, that cats be kept indoors. The longer life span (upwards of 20 years compared to the average life span of 5 years for an outdoor cat), greater health, security, and emotional happiness of an indoor cat are worth the effort of keeping kitty inside.

      However, keeping a cat indoors always works best when the cat has never been outside to begin with. What about the cat who has been outdoors before, or stays outside all the time? I try to look at the location and the cat's history to make a good decision.

      Location, as the writer points out, can quickly determine if a cat should be kept indoors. I live on a very isolated road in a low traffic area. There are coyotes in the area, but they usually stay away as there are plenty of humans around. The neighbors are generally accepting of cats in the neighborhood. These are ideal circumstances for outside adventures. However, it does not guarantee that your cat will be safe, and there is nothing worse than the day your beloved cat fails to come back.

      The cat also has a voice in your choice. Most of my cats stay inside always, but I do have one cat that is indoor/outdoor. He was raised outside and has an intense desire to stay in touch with nature. He would be miserable to be restricted inside all the time. So, I take the risk and say a prayer anytime he goes out. I know that one day he may not come back, but I have to let him live his life. Here is the point: my cat has EXPERIENCE and was TRAINED by his mother to survive outside. A cat that is brought home as a kitten does not have the experience or the training and should be kept indoors.

      Overall, it is indeed a choice that must be made between you and your cat. Just be sure that your decision to let your cat out is in the best interest of the cat. Don't assume that a cat with no outdoor experience will know what to do and how to survive. Most likely, your cat will not survive. But if you have a cat that was raised outside, your cat can still explore the great outdoors with a better chance of coming back to you.

    • lejonkung profile image

      lejonkung 6 years ago

      Thank you Finatics! I see that you have some hubs about animals aswell! I love animals and will read your hubs!

    • finatics profile image

      finatics 6 years ago

      Great Hub, you raise excellent points!