The Great Cat Debate - Indoors or Out?
Though, I'm primarily a dog trainer, many times over I have been asked by friends, family members and dog clients, if I can help them with their cat problems as well. Well the good news is, I have had cats since the day I was born ( and while, no - I don't plan on sharing that year - let me assure you, it has been a very, very long time.)
I would like to talk a little about cats. They are exquisite creatures that fascinate me to this day. Their sight at nighttime is amazingly intense, oh, and let's not forget their aptitude for hearing! The slightest skittle across a leaf that a mouse makes, and a cat is ready to pounce on it within seconds!
Currently our family has the privilege of sharing our lives with two cats; Casey, a short hair-domestic orange/white tabby who is 13 years old and Oliver, a long hair-domestic orange/white tabby who is 12 years old. We've had both cats since they were kittens. I am sure you will see me reference them in my blogs and just wanted to introduce them.
The Great Debate - Indoor or Outdoor?
Our cats are indoor/outdoor cats. We let them live indoors, but also allow them the joy of going outside and exploring whenever they want to. Unfortunately, statistics say that a cat that lives outdoors has a life expectancy of 4-6 years. :/ However, as a long time cat owner, I truly believe it depends on the unique factors that revolve around the specific cat's life as an outdoor kitty. Case in point - Cody, one of my previous indoor/outdoor cats, lived to be 17 years old!
In our particular case, we don't live on a high traffic street, all our neighbors know and LOVE our cats (which makes me feel they look out for them vs. harming them) and our cats vaccinations are up to date. They are also both neutered - VERY IMPORTANT in preventing cat fights or a litter of kittens.
Safety Tips for Outdoor Cats
- Provide Fresh Water.
- Make sure your cat has a collar with a tag and is micro-chipped.
- Provide a safe shelter for your cat when you are away from your home.
- Treat your cats for fleas, ticks and other parasites. Cats catch and eat mice and other critters, you will want to safeguard against parasites they can get from these filthy critters.
- Talk to Your Neighbors. I have asked our neighbors to let me know if our cats are ever a bothersome before calling Animal Control on them or us. Don't be afraid to talk to your neighbors about your outdoor cat. If they know you don't want your cat to be a nuisance in any way, this helps diffuse any future issues. YOU are responsible and accountable for your outdoor cat.
- Leave food outside for your cat! This can attract unwanted critters such as possums and raccoons or even other stray cats.
- Declaw an outdoor cat. Both of our cats are declawed and this is one of my biggest regrets! :( Now, since I have learned so much about this surgery and the pain it causes, I am against declawing altogether - which I will discuss in To Declaw or Not.
Is it REALLY A Good Idea For Your Cats? Do you live in a relatively safe area and talk to your neighbors? What part of the country do you live? If your street is busy or you have lots of poisonous plants and animals around, you may want to reconsider having an outdoor kitty.
A Lesson Learned
There was one time that a neighbor called us (our cats have collars and tags on them with our information on their tags). It was a phone call out of concern not to complain.
Casey, our short hair-domestic, decided that it served him well not to leave this particular neighbor's yard for quite a few days. When the neighbor called me to let me know Casey was at their house and wouldn't leave, she was concerned, but I knew immediately why Casey was hanging out there rather than coming home to us.
I asked the neighbor if they were feeding Casey, and after a few sly giggles through the phone she admitted "only grilled steak and corn on the cob."
Once she said that, she seemed to realize she was the culprit and not Casey.
We laughed and I asked her to stop feeding Casey. I mean heck! If you were feeding me steak and corn on the cob, I wouldn't leave either!
That same day, Casey came home. I then decided to add a tag to Casey's collar saying "Please Do Not Feed Me, I am Just Visiting You." My neighbors LOVE it! I have never had another phone call since and Casey comes home every day to eat his meals.
If your outdoor cat is not eating his meals or not coming home for days and doesn't look like he has lost his appetite, you might want to consider adding a tag to his collar as I have.
The Final Verdict?
It goes without saying, an indoor cat is going to be safer and has a better chance of living to a ripe old age in their indoor world. HOWEVER, as you can see I opt for the indoor and outdoor cat world and my cats LOVE me for this! Unless you live on a farm, I would NOT opt for an "all outdoor" kitty, and even on a farm, you should neuter/spay your farm cats and vaccinate.
The decision on whether to have an indoor and outdoor cat has to be based on each pet-parent's circumstances. The safer the environment and the healthier lifestyle you provide your cat, the better the chance your cat can beat those "outdoor" statistics.