Do you feel guilty keeping your feline friend strictly indoors all the time? For a cat, constantly staring out the window and watching birds and squirrels passing by surely is fun. But have you ever wondered what’s going in a cat’s mind? Does your cat want to go outside or does he just enjoy ‘Cat TV’. Whether to keep cats indoors or outdoors has been a topic of debate. I’m not in favor of outdoor cats but I believe cats can go outside with certain conditions. Read on to know how’s it possible and we will discuss the options.
Is It Wise to Let Your Cat Wonder Outdoors?
In my opinion, cats should be strictly indoors considering they’re provided proper environmental enrichment. Cats, when living in the wild, become part of a food chain. They are predators and prey. An ecosystem with all outdoor cats is unbalanced and they are a threat to several species of birds and small animals.
Outdoor cats across the world have threatened the existence of 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. They kill about 2.4 billion birds each year in the United States alone. Feral cats provide the largest contribution to this imbalance but if you allow your cat to be in the wild on his own, your cat plays a crucial role in disrupting the ecosystem.
I’m a little selfish when it comes to my cat’s health and well-being. When a cat is indoors, it lives longer and stays safe from life-threatening situations. A cat roaming outside can be hit by a moving vehicle, become prey, contract diseases and parasites, and may injure itself in a catfight. Imagine your cat went out overnight and your worry about whether he will find danger. A feral cat lives about five to six years but an indoor cat can live as much as 20 years.
Keeping these things in mind, it is unwise to let your cat go outside, however, let us examine the negatives of an indoor only cat. A cat who stays inside the home can become bored. It can be less behaviorally expressive and less confident compared to the cats that live in the wild. This is because a cat’s body is made for struggling and thriving in the outside world. They feel their best when they chase their prey, hunt them, and other daily activities like, climbing trees, and play.
An indoor cat, without proper enrichment, has less confidence, doesn’t get enough mental stimulation or physical exercise, and may develop emotional conditions. It is also important to notice here that poor mental health is associated with many chronic conditions, for instance, kidney diseases.
Considering all the positives and negatives on both sides, you can eliminate the negatives associated with indoor cats by allowing your cat to go outside within certain guidelines.
An Outing with Your Cat
The adverse effect on the environment or dangers for your cats being outdoors alone can be prevented when your cat is accompanied by you during outside activities. Evening walks with family members while your cats riding in a cat stroller is good enrichment for them. Your felines will enjoy the changing frame and cool breeze as they sit comfortably.
Yes, your cat can walk on a harness and a leash like a dog does but not exactly the same way. Some cats do not like the idea of walking and are not comfortable wearing a harness. However, all cats should be given an opportunity. Door dasher cats and escape artists are perfect candidates. Clicker training should be employed to teach your cat harness walking.
An important thing you should know is your cat is not a dog. There is no alpha dog concept here. You need to follow your cat where he goes while making sure he does not get himself in any trouble. This way, a cat gets a chance to explore the outside world. It feels more confident marking its territory, developing problem-solving abilities, and visiting different places.
Enrichment is the process to make your home cat-friendly in a way that it doesn’t have to make compromises with the aesthetics of your house. You need to make changes in your house that support your cat’s species-specific behavior. For example, a cat sees his territory in a three-dimensional space and wants to mark and live accordingly. We generally don’t use up the vertical space but for cats, it’s important. That said, having shelves, cat trees, scratch posts, litter boxes, window perch beds, cat TV, and other enrichment ideas aid in their well-being and mental health.
There are pros and cons of both indoor and outdoor cats but certainly it’s easier and advisable to keep your cat indoors along with doing the things explained in this article. Consider compromising your space with your cats as a price you pay for this beautiful relationship. If you’re still allowing your cats to be outdoors alone and working on changing this habit, be sure that they have a breakaway GPS collar and are microchipped. In case of theft and loss, microchipping and GPS collars increase the chances of returning of the cat.
You can allow your cat to witness the outside world under your watchful eyes, but, if your cat often escapes and goes outside on its own, you should start keeping them strictly indoors.