Last Updated on: October 19, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Most savvy cat owners know that the indoors is the safest and healthiest place for their pets. However, others still believe cats need the freedom to roam outside and hunt as their wild ancestors did.
When we take on the responsibility of adopting a pet, we promise to do everything in our power to keep them safe and in good health. One of the easiest ways to ensure your cat gets the best chance at life is to keep him indoors. Read on to find 13 reasons you should consider converting your free-roaming outdoor cat into a strictly indoor one.
The 13 Reasons to Keep Your Cat Indoors:
1. Other Animals Can Cause Injuries
We’ve all heard catfights in the middle of the night. Imagine it was your cat out there getting into a brawl with the neighborhood cats, dogs, or worse, wildlife. Fights can cause significant injuries, infections, and even death.
2. Protection for Birds
Did you know that some countries consider cats an invasive alien species? It may seem outrageous, but it makes sense when you think about how many birds domestic cats kill annually. Outdoor cats kill around 2.5 billion birds yearly, making them one of the leading causes of bird mortality.1
3. Less Impact on the Biodiversity
You already know that cats are the number one threat to birds, but did you know that their mere presence outside can significantly impact the health of nesting birds? Since cats are recognizable predators, being near nesting birds can reduce the health of the chicks and lower the chances of a successful nest.2
Cats pose a threat to more than just birds. They also prey on insects and small mammals, potentially disturbing the area’s biodiversity forever.
4. Longer Lifespan
Outdoor cats have an average lifespan of just three years, while indoor cats can live to be 18 or older. These, of course, are just averages, but it’s clear that indoor cats are much more likely to see their golden years than those that go outside.
5. Won’t Get Hit by Cars
Cats don’t have the greatest street sense. They’ll dart across a busy street in front of vehicles or stop in the middle of the road if they feel like it. Over five million cats are hit by cars annually in the United States alone. Studies show that 51% of sudden and unexpected outdoor cat deaths resulted from a road accident.
6. Decreased Parasite Risk
The outdoor world is full of bacteria, bugs, and parasites. Cats that go outside are more likely to become infected with things like fleas, ticks, or internal worms.
Toxoplasma gondii is one parasite to familiarize yourself with if you have cats, especially ones that go outside. This parasite is commonly found in outdoor cats, and while most will not get sick from this bug, it can be spread to humans, causing a condition known as toxoplasmosis. This can be quite serious in pregnant women as it can pass to the fetus and those with compromised immune systems.
7. Decreased Disease Risk
It’s just not parasites you need to worry about. Outdoor cats can encounter diseases and infections, some of which can be deadly. Some conditions can be transferred by close contact and don’t require contact with exposed skin.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) affects a cat’s immune system, making it prone to other diseases and illnesses. FeLV can cause several disorders and is the most common cause of feline cancers.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can be spread through bodily fluids, so catfights are a common mode of transmission. FIV, like the human equivalent (AIDS), weakens a cat’s immune system, making him susceptible to other infections.
Rabies is another viral disease that is almost always fatal in affected animals. The virus is transmitted via saliva, so it’s something your cat can come into contact with via bites from infected animals. However, your cat could contract the disease if an infected animal’s saliva or nerve tissue enters an open wound or the mucous membranes in his eyes, nose, or mouth.
8. Decreased Risk of Poisoning
Your cat may come across a variety of poisonous materials while roaming outside. The most common types include antifreeze, fertilizers, rat poison, and rodenticides. Many of these poisons have scents designed to attract pests to kill them. Unfortunately, your cat may find these scents attractive and become a victim.
9. Decreased Risk of Becoming Stolen or Lost
If your cats are kept indoors, they are less likely to become lost or stolen. Studies suggest that anywhere between 12% to 18% of cats will go missing at least once in five years.
Of course, your indoor cat can still go missing. Cats are fast, and accidents can happen to anyone. That’s why it is so important you microchip your kitty, so if he does go missing, the good Samaritans that find him can help get him back to you.
10. No Weather-Related Risks
Weather can be unpredictable. It can be sunny and warm one minute, and then pouring rain and hailing baseball-sized ice chunks. Winter isn’t any better, as freezing temperatures and biting winds can be a recipe for disaster for your poor kitty. Cats left outside in extreme weather can experience heat stroke and dehydration in the summer or hypothermia or frostbite during the winter.
Indoor cats are always safe, warm, and cozy in your temperature-controlled environment.
11. No Angry Neighbors
No one wants a cat using its beautiful flower or vegetable garden as a litter box. Outdoor cats see the world as their toilet, so you may have some angry neighbors to deal with if they catch your kitty doing his business in their yard.
12. No Risk of Animal Cruelty
As hard as it is to imagine, there are a lot of people out there who have no problem hurting living creatures.
My childhood cat loved going outside, and he was abused by someone one day. The vet told us he suspects the abusers grabbed him by his tail and swung him around. Thankfully, he made a full recovery, but it makes you think twice about letting your cat free roam.
13. No Risk of Being Picked Up by Animal Control
Free-roaming cats can get picked up by your local animal control agency. If he does not have a microchip or other identification, reconnecting with him can be a challenge. Sadly, only 2% of cats that enter shelters without microchips are returned to their owners.
But Don’t Cats Need to Be Outside?
Believe it or not, cats don’t get FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if they don’t get to go outside, provided they’re fully mentally and physically stimulated inside. Cats aren’t passive pets you can feed, provide water for, and forget about; they need to be interacted with.
It would help if you had several different toys and toy types at your disposal to keep your kitty happy, healthy, and stimulated. They need toys that:
- Replicate the hunting and prey sequence (e.g., wand toys)
- Encourage climbing (e.g., cat trees)
- Provide hiding spaces (e.g., tunnels or cardboard boxes)
- Challenge the brain (e.g., puzzle feeders)
- Mellow them out or boost their energy (catnip!)
Bridge the Gap With a Catio
If your indoor cat shows interest in going outside or has predominantly been an outside cat his entire life, you can also consider investing in a catio. Catios are patios for cats typically built next to a window your cat likes to frequent. These enclosed spaces provide outdoor enrichment for your cat while ensuring he stays safe. Additionally, your local ecosystem and wildlife population will not be affected as your cat cannot engage in hunting while in his enclosed space.
Isn’t Killing Birds What Cats Are Designed to Do?
You don’t need to let your kitty out to go kill birds to appease his hunting instincts; play games with him that encourage prowling, hiding, and sprinting indoors. Feather wands and laser points are great for this.
Hopefully, our blog has shed some light on the importance of keeping your cat indoors. If you’re worried about your pet missing his freedom to go outside, build or invest in a catio to help bridge the gap. He’ll still be able to enjoy his outside time, but in a safe way that prevents wildlife predation.
If you cannot provide a catio, make sure you set aside plenty of time to play with your kitty daily. This will keep him entertained while catering to his instincts.
Featured Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!