Outdoor vs Indoor Cats

Relaxed cat sitting on window sill in front of defocused foliage on a sunny day. Cute fluffy calico kitty watching birds or squirrel outside. Mental enrichment for indoor cats. Selective focus.

Outdoor vs Indoor Cats

Some cats are homebirds who seem perfectly happy and comfortable to stay safe and cozy inside. Other felines may meow, wail, or even dash frantically for the door so they can go roam and explore the great outdoors. If you’re trying to decide if your cat should be strictly indoors or only outdoors, we’ve put together some informatin about cat safety, health, and happiness to keep in mind when making this important decision.

Pros of Keeping Your Cat Indoors

  • Safety: Indoor cats are less likely to encounter the risks of the outdoors, such as cars, dogs, feral cats, or roaming wild animals like foxes, deer etc.
  • Health: Indoor cats are shielded from fleas, ticks, or sick or unvaccinated cats.
  • Grooming: If your cat is long-haired, a life indoors can help keep their coat free of dirt, leaves, and debris.
  • Environmental impact: Outdoor cats have a reputation of harming or even killing birds and other small wildlife; keeping your kitty indoors can help prevent this negative environmental impact.
  • More together time: You may be more likely to spot any behavioral issues or health problems if you’re spending more time with your cat at home.
a black and white cat lies on a sofa and kneads a checkered wool blanket with his paws

Cons of Indoor Cats

  • Curiousity killed the cat: Some cats may be escape artists or constantly push to explore outdoors.
  • Lack of exercise: Indoor cats typically get less exercise and are more at risk to being overweight or obese.
  • Boredom: Easier for cats to become bored which can lead to destructive behaviour.
  • Stress: A cat that’s only indoors may claw up chairs or mark furniture or walls as a sign of stress. Watching outdoor cats stroll past, or having them pee near “their” house, can also be very stressful for an indoor cat.

Pros of Outdoors Cats

  • Healthier weights: Outdoor cats typically get more exercise, which reduces their risk for obesity. Hunting, climbing and patrolling territory means cats get exercise and outdoor cats tend to be slimmer than their indoor counterparts.
  • Outdoor stimulation: Being outdoors provides an ever-changing environment to explore, climb, sniff, and lounge on, which may help reduce behavioural issues.
  • Fewer litter box messes: As your cat is outdoors more they’re more likely to do their ‘business’ outdoors, saving you the cleaning up of a litter box inside.

Cons of Outdoors Cats

  • Physical danger: Outdoor cats are at risk of encountering lots of hazards, including predators, dogs, cars, territorial or feral cats, and wild animals. They also run the risk of getting trapped like in trees or in car engines.
  • Disease: Cats that are let outdoors may be exposed to serious diseases like FIV, feline leukemia,and more.
  • Parasites: An outdoor cat can attract fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and other icks.
  • Environmental impact: Pet cats kill an astounding number of birds and mice every year, contributing to a known environmental crisis.

Keeping Your Indoor Cat Stimulated

Playtime is crucial for keeping an indoor cat not just physically healthy, but mentally happy too. Cats are incredibly intelligent creatures, and that active mind thrives on challenges within their environment. Their natural instincts are to hunt, scratch, and climb; so unless you want your furniture destroyed or to be woken up at 3am for an impromptu play session, it’s essential to provide them with something to focus on or play with.

Just like dogs, you should offer your feline friend a healthy amount of attention and stimulation in order to avoid bad behaviour or an unhappy and bold kitty.

There are many different ways to keep your indoor cat mentally challenged and happy, such as…

cat scratchers kitten playing inside a scratcher

Interactive Toys

Interactive toys such as M-PETS Dizzy Cat Toy or the KONG Cat Laser Toy are great ways to keep not only your cat’s body active, but also their mind. Keeping playtime interactive with a laser toy (just be careful not to point the laser in your cat’s eye) or a toy that omits sounds can keep boredom at bay and provide plenty of stimulating entertainment.

Cat Scratchers

As all cat parents know, cats love to scratch. Whether it’s against your sofa, furniture, carpet or a cat scratcher post, scratching is a part of your cat’s natural instincts. Investing in a scratcher is a great way to help save your furniture or carpet from getting destroyed, while also keeping your cat mentally happy and healthy.

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys such as M-PETS Sway Cat Toy Tasty Treat Dispenser are another great option to keep your cat using her brain while being rewarded with a tasty treat. Always keep the extra food or treats in proportions so that she is getting the optimal nutrition.

Chase Toys

Chase toys are a great way to keep your cat entertained; pouncing, grabbing onto, or simply swiping at the toy with their paws is an effective way to keep your cat active. Their whole body will be working as they playfully runs around your home.

Find out what your cat likes or doesn’t like before you invest in anything new to add to their toy basket. Anything that interests them and is safe is always a good choice.

A Catio

If it’s possible, you can buy or build an enclosure called a catio that makes going outside safer for your indoor cat. These can provide wonderful enrichment opportunities for indoor cats, while still being able to stay safe in the comfort of their home. Cats can sit on a perch, roll in the sun, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors in a way that is safe. If you want to give their cat a fuller life without experiencing the dangers of outdoors, a catio is a good option.

orange cat outside in forest

Keeping Your Outdoors Cat Safe

Because outdoor cats are exposed to outdoor hazards, you want to help protect them as much as possible. The best ways to do this are:

  1. Make sure your cat is up to date with vaccinations and parasite control.
  2. A good collar and ID tag means if they do get lost, they can be easily returned to you. Cats can also be microchipped, reducing the risk of them getting lost for long periods.
  3. Watch for new behaviors or other signs that your cat may need veterinary care. Stroke them regularly and keep an eye out for any lumps, bumps, scratches or anything that may require a vet.
  4. Install a cat flap, so your cat can come and go as he pleases even if you’re not home. If you’re concerned that other cats in your neighbourhood will use it, you can get ones that are programmed to only respond and open for your cat’s microchip or collar.
  5. Neutered/spayed: It’s generally a good idea to get your cat neutered if they’re going to be outdoors the majority of the time. If they’re un-neutered it increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy and they’re more likely to travel further from home as they’ll be searching for a potential mate. 

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