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Pros and Cons of Outside Cats

Updated on July 8, 2009
Flickr Image by D.A.N.D.E.
Flickr Image by D.A.N.D.E.

It's your ultimate decision as to whether or not you want your cat to be inside, outside, or a little of both. There are pros and cons associated with each option, but you'll find that more cat owners will prefer to keep their cat(s) inside and solely inside. Again, this is your opinion and choice, unless you live in a country that bans domestic cats from living outside, especially if declawed, as they would not be able to fully defend themselves.

You'll find that there are advantages and disadvantages to everything, to include leaving yoru cat outside. Before you make the decision check out the basic pros and cons of an outdoor cat.


There are very few pros to an outside cat. There were only two that I could accumulate.

Freedom. Many believe that cats are happier outside because they can exhibit their natural predatory skills of chasing bugs, birds, lizards, and other small prey items.

No litter box. For outdoor cats, there is no need for a litter box, as the world is one big litter box. This means that you do not have to fool with cleaning a litter box. You also won't have to worry about your cat having litter box problems, where he doesn't want to use the litter box in the house, resulting in soiled carpets, floors, and furniture.


Cars and traffic. Leaving your cat outside, you can't protect your cat from cars and traffic in the road and even cars that may skid into your yard where your cat may be. Sometimes it's hard to stop if a cat runs out into the road, meaning sometimes it's just hard to miss them.

Other animals. You can't protect your cat from dogs, other cats, large birds, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, snakes, opossums, raccoons, and other larger wild and domestic animals that may take you cat and turn him into a prey item for dinner.

People. People are a common factor of abuse and deaths in animals, and with an outdoor cat you just can't monitor who your cat will come into contact with. Someone may assume the cat is a stray and poison it, kick it, or just overall harass it. Even with a collar, this is still a big problem, as people who don't like cats aren't going to care that the cat is your pet because it's in their yard.

Chemicals. Outdoor cats are at high risk to various outdoor chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, antifreeze and other car products, spoiled foods, poisonous plants, etc.

Weather extremes. Extreme cold and heat can really take a told on a pet left outside, especially one as small as a cat. Plus, you'll have to worry about tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, drought, etc. all depending on what area you live in and what you're climate is.

Disease and illness. It's proven that cats that live outside are more prone to disease and illness than a cat that's left inside. Outdoor cats have a higher risk of contracting feline AIDS, rabies, and feline leukemia. Outdoor cats are more susceptible abscesses caused by fights with other cats and other animals, and when left untreated can lead to infections and other health complications. Cats that are left outside are also at high risk to parasites caused by fleas and ticks, as well as other worms and parasites found in the ground and other cats and animals. Cats can also contract diseases and illnesses from killing and eating other animals, such as lizards and birds. 

Shorter average lifespan. The average indoor cat will live about 14 years, whereas the average outdoor cat will live about 4 years. There are so many more dangers that and outdoor cat must face (to include the above- cars, animals, people, chemicals, weather, and health complications).

Not as social. Cats that are left as sole outside cats generally aren't as social as cats that are inside cats and around the family at all times.

* Note: un-altered outside cats increase the feral cat population, which result in a nuisance to residence owners. These cats are commonly captured and euthanized. Kittens and younger cats are sometimes altered and adopted into homes, and in some cases they are captured, spayed or neutered, and then released back into the wild.


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    • profile image

      jazzy 4 years ago

      I have an inside cat.. he gose out side every day to play and comes back in

    • Shaddie profile image

      Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

      The cons heavily outweigh the pros. No cat should be left to free-roam outside. They are menace to wildlife, to each other, to neighbors, and are easy pickings for a hoard of dangers which include but ARE NOT LIMITED TO cars, raccoons, and dogs.

    • Budman610 profile image

      Budman610 6 years ago from Ohio

      Another PRO is vermin control. We live in the country and our cats spend most of the time in our garage and hanging around our shed. First place the field mice head when it starts getting cold! Keeps them out of our house and our house Decon free.

    • Marcus Teague profile image

      Marcus Teague 7 years ago

      A lot of these are pretty strong myths, avoided if the cat is inside every now and then at least.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 7 years ago from West By God

      It also depends on the cat wheather they wish to be an indoor or outdoor cat, IF they have already been an outdoor cat. I have several outdoor cats, who don't want to come in at all and they are the friendliest cats that I know. I also had an outdoor un-neutered male cat and he was also very friendly. you can find his story on my hub My Trip with Thomas. Sad to say he is now gone--not dead but gone. He was going to be fixed.

      I have two feral cats that I got as kittens from the mother who had them in a tree too. It took me 6 mohths to get them inside. One is comfortable inside but will not use a litter box. Her sister will spray if we do not let her outside. So there are limits to how much they can be domesticated. I have another male that will never go outside again. Yes, he got out twice and was scared to death, so he doesn't go out anymoe and it was his choice. Cats have their own distinct personalities in how they want to live their lives, just like people.

      I also live in a forested neighborhood on the side of a mountain,but I have had two cats disappear--one was hit by a car--on these dirt roads. I never seen her again because those who hit her came right back and took her away. The thing about raccoons and possums---I have watched how they interact with the cats and the cats are the ones who go after them and will terrorize them off my back deck. I have seen, with my own eye, one of my cats clawing at the back end of a raccoon until it left the bottom step. That is just what I have seen here in my woods and it may not be the same elsewhere. Possums also don't have a chance on my back deck if the cats think they are going to eat all their food. I have since started taking their food that they have left up at 9 pm.

      I do agree with Witney on the part that if you are going to get a kitten be sensible and responsible enough to keep it an indoor cat all it's life.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      No cat is great to spend time outside. I'd suggest adopting a cat, as many need homes and are in shelters.

    • profile image

      helena 7 years ago

      im going to get a kitten but it would spend most time outside when it is older but what kitten would be good but not to much money? :)

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 7 years ago

      We actually had an outdoor feral cat that left her kitten behind for some reason in our backyard tree . We heard the tiny kitten but it took us a bit to find him . Great Hub well written ! Another pro for the indoor cat would be she or he will not bring their prey to the front door or worse into the home via pet door . We had a cat bring half a snake into our kitchen in the middle of the night :(

    • The_Boss profile image

      The_Boss 8 years ago from CyberSpace

      I have 4 cats, and they are all indoors. The coyotes would snatch them in a heartbeat if they could. There are so many missing cat posters all over out town and we're just not willing to give our cats up for food. Thanks for the wonderful hub! Keep it up!

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Most of the cats I've had are cats who were left behind by their owners, tenants who have moved. Some have been tamed, and some have been feral cats we have fed. i live on acreage here, so the cats don't face some of the dangers they might face in a neighborhood. Our house is not large enough to keep a cat indoors. My mother had mostly indoor cats who were allowed to go outside during the day for a bit. When we lived in a neighborhood, we had a cat who was mostly outdoors, but came in to be loved by the family several times daily. He would not have wanted to be iinside all the time. Currently, my neighbors on our acreage have three cats who go in at night but are allowed to hunt outside when they please. We don't have any cats left because the neighbors (during a time they had moved away) brought us a cat they wanted but which their landlord wouldn't let them keep (since they already had four cats.) That cat came as a kitten who grew into a very aggressive cat. He drove the other cats away. IThen he finally left himself. I let the neighbor's cats work on the gopher problem, since as long as her cats are around there's not sense in introducing a cat who might fight with them. They already fight with each other. I like cats, but i know I don't have the time to really have pets right now. It's hard enough to keep my garden watered.