Keeping cats indoors can be a controversial topic. Some cat lovers believe that it’s not natural to keep cats indoors, and that they should have the freedom to go outdoors. However, the fact is that indoor cats live longer and healthier lives, and contrary to what outdoor cat proponents believe, indoor cats can be perfectly happy as long as cat guardians provide a stimulating environment for them.

The following seven reasons are strong arguments for keeping cats indoors:

1. Indoor cats are safe from many diseases

Cats who roam free are at greater risk for contracting infectious diseases such as feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline distemper, and a variety of zoonotic diseases and parasites.

2. Indoor cats are safe from predators

Even though cats are prey animals, they are fairly low on the food chain and can easily become prey to coyotes, raptors, and wild dogs. Even with a full set of claws, outdoor cats are at a disadvantage when they encounter predators, and declawed cats are at even greater risk.

3. Indoor cats do not get hit by cars

Cars kill more cats per year than the number of cats that are killed in U.S. animal shelters. Cats in crowded cities are at the greatest risk, but even cats in more rural areas are not safe, and are typically not as “car savvy’ as cats who live in urban areas.

4. Indoor cats don’t get lost or stolen

Even though accidents happen, indoor cats have a much better chance of never getting lost or stolen. In the same vein, they are also safer from human abuse. Sadly, outdoor cats are often a target for cat haters.

5. Indoor cats make better neighbors

Outdoor cats tend to roam, and if your neighbors aren’t cat-friendly, this can cause problems, which, in some cases, can result in the cat being picked up by animal control, or worse.

6. It’s easier to monitor an indoor cat’s urinary and gastro-intestinal health

Outdoor cats won’t always use the litter box inside the home, thus making it impossible for guardians to be able to monitor urine output and consistency of stools. This can lead to life-threatening complications resulting from urinary blockages.

7. Indoor cats can get exercise and stimulation

Keeping cats indoors doesn’t mean that cats can’t exercise their hunting instinct. It’s up to cat guardians to provide a stimulating environment with plenty of cat trees, window perches and scratchers. Daily playtime not only keeps kitty exercises and active, but is also a wonderful way for cat and human to bond.

Don’t take risks with your cat’s life. Provide a safe and stimulating indoor environment to keep her happy and healthy well into her senior years.

This article was previously published on, and is republished with permission.

19 Comments on 7 Reasons to Keep Cats Indoors

  1. I’m so heart sick today. Broken. Angry. Sad.
    I’d been mourning a week for a cat I just FELT met a tragic end, but even though I felt it in my heart. I had no proof. Until this morning.
    One evening, a little over a year ago I ran across a cat I thought was a stray. He was an older boy but not in the least bit afraid, laying on gravel as if it was the most comfortable mattress ever. He seemed confident and loving. Playful and purring. He stood up and walked beside me a few houses down, to my home.
    I was walking back from a block party so there were many people for me to inquire about this little (actually big, stocky) guy. A few seemed to know that he belonged to the people directly across the street from where he was lounging. There was no car in their driveway as there usually was, and I hadn’t seen them at the block party so I figured he got out of the house and they weren’t home.
    When I got inside my home I began feeding my 4 cats and the “stray” could see this through the low window near my front door. I didn’t know how long his parents were away so I took a plate of food out for him. He eagerly ate it all up and proceeded to whoosh in & out and around my legs. He lay down, but got up everytime I made a move to go back inside.
    By midnight he was still there and so I grabbed some treats and took him home. No one answered the door so I opened the back gate and left the treats with him. Then shut the gate while he snacked, and I left.

    The next morning, he was back. Peeking through the window watching me feed my kids at around 5am. I checked the driveway across the street … still no sign of them. I sadly thought they may have left for the weekend thinking he was safe inside with food and water. NOT my way of doing things but many people find that a good solution for them. I fed him again. That night I gave him dinner but took him to his own backyard. I didn’t like that he was wandering the street.
    This kept going on for a couple of days. Finally I saw the car had returned and along with a fresh bowl of food (in the back) I left a kind note on the windshield just in case they needed to know what happened.
    But the next day I saw him roaming again and sauntering around the cul-de-sac. I was stunned because I knew they were home. Again I took him to his property and this time there was a note under the bowl I gave him his dinner in. It was a kind thank you, and they let me know he was 10ish years old. They’d always let him roam and the neighbors knew him. (I’d learned that eventually as well)
    They said they appreciated that I “took care” of their boy. I thought ok, that was that.
    Except it wasn’t, by far. I started to watch him jog across the street and around the cul-de-sac on a daily basis. He did that all hours. He did it often. I live in Arizona and I knew there are just so many days that he can do this without burning his little paws, soon. But he was smart enough to come over to my house before dawn, and didn’t return until sundown. I give my kids an expensive specialty food so that’s what this guy got as well. I figured he just liked it better than his usual fare, perhaps?
    One day I was driving by their house, they were in the driveway so I stopped. I introduced myself. I told him how beautiful and sweet he was. They proceeded to tell me that this is what he does, and when asked his name …. I was appalled to hear a hyphenated derogatory cuss word with a nasty adverb. I declared honestly, ok, well, I’ll just call him Max. The couple seemed amused. The husband asked me what I was feeding him. I told him and his reply was that they basically gave their cat the equivalent of candy for meals only in cat food.

    Whatever. I can’t judge that because there are a hundred reasons for choosing a certain food for your pet.

    I heard through a grapevine that they didn’t want me to feed their cat anymore. I guess I could’ve stopped but Max became a permanent fixture at my home. Before dawn and just around dusk. During the rainy season, I found his fur often damp, although he could have stayed home, he obviously wasn’t. Once I took him home before a storm set in and he proceeded to crawl under the truck in their driveway. That’s where he waited out the storm.

    And although he had short hair it was beginning to mat by his hind quarters. I took him to stand on the hood of my car several times and brushed the mats out. He stayed and purred. How can you pet this cat, or snuggle with him (the way they claim they did) and NOT notice & remove these mats?
    Once during a particularly heavy storm he let me bundle him up in a heavy towel to protect him from torrential rain (monsoon season) as I ran him back over to his yard.. when I put him down he started to follow me back out. The thunder & lightning frightened him (me, too) but he was ready to come back out into the storm to follow me home. I stayed with him a bit and when it calmed after a few minutes, I put treats down in a dry spot and I think he stayed put after I shut the gate and went home.
    I started to carry a wooden crate out and put it by my door when I fed him because I realized that he wasn’t really always coming for food. He would just crave attention. So I’d sit in that humidity and just let him cuddle. Sometime’s he’d eat a bit but then just hang with me. Even followed me when I got up just to stretch my legs.
    Here in AZ we know that it’s a natural & common fact that coyote and javelina roam freely. It’s something that you hear over & over again. Warnings to keep your pets inside because they are easy prey for hungry wild animals.
    I was told by a neighbor that “that cat” can take care of himself, not to worry …. Right.
    About a week ago, no Max in the morning. No Max at night. No Max rolling in the gravel waiting for me when I pull into my driveway. No Max waiting for me when I come home. And no Max when I open the garage from inside. He used to just saunter in and walk around a bit.
    I’ve been ill since Sunday. But I looked for him day & night. My girlfriend asked another neighbor who claimed he’d seen him 3 days prior. I KNEW that was a serious miscalculation. Max didn’t miss a visit, there was just no way he was out & about 3 days ago but didn’t come by.
    Last night I went out to the driveway around 8:30. Just as I opened my car door I heard loudly and very clearly 3 long meows. They sounded NOTHING like Maxs raspy mew. My house front door was shut so it wasn’t one of my cats. I searched high and low for where that meow can from. I could find nothing. I have never seen another stray cat on my street. Only Max. I do hear a woman on another street, whose home is behind mine from the backyard, as she always calls for her two cats because she too obviously let’s them out. But I’ve not seen them but once or twice. And they are skittish. Not gentle & friendly like Max.
    This morning I am still ill. When I woke up my girlfriend was standing in front of me as I was stepping into the hallway.
    She stood in from of me and solemnly said she’d just spoken to a neighbor (the one who claimed to see a few days ago) I knew. I just didn’t need to hear it. I knew. “they” found his battered body on the sidewalk … “they” didn’t know what animal attacked him. “they” didn’t know exactly what time or what day ….

    My heart broke instantly for Max. For his pain and his anguish. For his fright. For the horrible way he died.
    I sunk to the bench and sobbed for the loss & suffering of this beautiful boy. The boy I fantasized that I would one day rescue completely and not just give him brief moments of love, affection, and food.
    I am so sick today. My head is pounding. My heart aches. And I’m angry.

    How? Why? What is the reason behind letting a cat you call your pet …. wander the streets aimlessly, day & night, through threats of speeding cars, wild animals, Nasty weather, 115 – 120 degrees, and rain, naughty children who think it’s funny to bully a cat or use it for target practice?
    We would never do this to our children. Why is it ok to do it to our pets??

    I apologize for this rant. This long, sad story … but I owe him acknowledgement for his life. I hope that that’s ok.
    And if it isn’t, Ingrid can certainly take it down. I respect her decision.
    He was a sweet, loving little boy, dependent on humans to be responsible and kind. He died because someone failed him. He died a horrible death.
    I ache. I hope his “owners” ache, too and I hope they regret. Just enough to NEVER make that decision AGAIN.
    Good bye sweet beautiful Max … I hope those were your meows I heard last night. Loud and young again, telling me you’re ok and that you know you were loved and are missed.

    • Oh Joyce, I’m so sorry! My heart is breaking for you, and for this beautiful boy. It makes me so sad that such a special soul did not have humans who appreciated him, but bless you for giving him a chance to experience what it was like being loved and cared for, even if it was just “part time.” Make no mistake, you made a difference in Max’s life, Joyce. I hope your heart eventually heals enough so you can see that.

      • Thank you so much Ingrid. Today I feel such grief I don’t know how to handle it. I can’t stop dwelling and crying. I know he was happy to spend time here. Thanks for saying so. I can’t seem to stop thinking of his last moments. I’ll get it together. I’ll do better in time. I just don’t think I knew how much he meant to me, not really being MY kid. Love is love though, I guess. Thank you for your kindness.

  2. I was watching one of the shows My Cat is from Hell. Jackson told them to get motion activated sprinklers & a alarm. Where can those itms be found?

  3. Our rescue cat used to be an inside at night/outside during the day cat. She was a great hunter and brought us many gifts (mice, rabbits etc). Then one afternoon she turned up with a scratched eye from a fight. That turned out OK after an expensive vet visit, but two weeks later she hobbled in from outside with a broken leg. After two operations and five months in a large crate (and several thousand $’s) we decided that she is now an inside cat only. That was 18 months ago, and she is quite happy inside all the time with us. She has plenty of window sills and a screen door to look at all the wildlife she is missing out on catching, but she seems very content and is much friendlier to her people than she was before. She did escape once, but came back as soon as I called her.

  4. My cats are indoors-only. In the past I let kitties roam, and bad things happened to them. One had an abcess from an animal bite, and the other was found under a tree, dead from unknown causes.

  5. When I was a little girl I watched as my sweet kitty ran into the street and was hit by a car. Fortunately he died instantly. Because he had slept under my covers with me, I had a terrible case of flea bites all over my legs!

    Since then all my kitties have been indoor only. I used to let some out on a lead while I supervised, but after many cases of fleas, I stopped that too. Now my fur baby enjoys the fresh air from a cat napper at a screened window. Her favorite place in the warm weather.

    • That must have been so awful for you to watch your kitty being killed as a little girl, Debi! I’m so sorry. My girls love being on their cat napper when the breeze is wafting in through the screen – it’s their idea of kitty bliss.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more, everybody. Yes, cats should be allowed to roam as is their nature but it is just too dangerous. My cats are not allowed outside but every once in a while somebody leaves the screen door open and one or the other takes advantage but they don’t go far. Terrified I hope. They always come right in when I tell them this world is no place for spoiled rotten housecats who would not survive one night in the great outdoors. For a while last spring my 6 year old Charlie thought he wanted to go outside anytime a door would open but he got over it eventually. I let them sit at the locked screen door for their fresh air and they love watching the birds and butterflies and they are perfectly safe.

  7. I have a small fenced-in back yard that I let my cats into for fresh air and sunshine occasionally, always with me to supervise. Some of the cats are interested and some not particularly. They are all rescues and I believe they remember how hard their lives were when they were living outside. Perhaps not, but I think it influences their interest or lack thereof in the outdoors.

  8. I used to let my cats out. I lived in a safe, low populated area and lived happily with my first cat for ten years allowing her to come in and out as she pleased. The neighborhood started develouping and I adopted a couple more cats the were also allowed outdoor time that they loved. Unfortunately, where I live, superstition about cats create hostile attitudes in many ingorant people and I hadn’t realized one of our new neighbors must have been a cat hater. Whoever the p.o.s was, ended up poisoning first my 2 yr old Mia, a neighborhood cat I had just neutered and fed, and I assume they also poisoned my almost 11 yr old Katy since I never saw her again and she disappeared around the same time I found the other’s bodies. After that, no matter how much Shelly protested he and my newest rescue Mugi became indoor only. Shelly, escaped a little after and disapeared for 2 days. We were heartbroken thinking he ended up like the others. He appeared later, a rainy day, covered in injuries and looking sick. We rushed to the vet and luckily he wasnt poisoned or seriously hurt. After that ordeal he never wanted to go out again but he is also not the same happy go lucky cat. He is scared easily and very quiet, shy and skittish. Having outdoor cats has only ended in sadness for us.

  9. I live in So Cal. I use to let my cats be in and outside cats ( in at Nite). But after losing 6 to coyotes, No more! I hate they must be in, but coyotes can jump 6-7 foot fences. All my neighbors have lost cats and dogs With fenced yards.

  10. Great article, Ingrid! Indoor kitties are definitely much safer. My dad had outdoor cats in the country, but it always scared me for them. The cars along that road go super fast, and sadly, kitties didn’t always make it out of the way.

  11. I have found a compromise with the keeping the felines in or letting them out. During spring, summer and fall I set up a XL dog crate on my deck. I abutt the crate to the garden door so I merely open the garden door and they run happily into their outdoor enclosure. I always keep a watchful eye out but otherwise they get fresh air and the stimulation of the sights and sounds of nature. I even had a little Junco run through the crate once, fortunately no one was in at the time. If you can afford there are “Catios” (Cat Patios)available for sale on the Internet.

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