Outdoor vs Indoor Cats
There is no question that cats who have access to the outdoors face increased health risks as opposed to their indoor counterparts. On average, the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is 11 years, versus 17 years for that of an indoor cat.
Outdoor risks include traumas (accidents with cars, bite wounds/attacks from other cats or wildlife), infections (viral, bacterial, parasitic), poisonings, or going missing.
These risks can be minimized by:
- Only allowing cats outdoors during daylight hours, as most cat fights occur at night.
- Only allowing access to a fenced yard or supervising them while outdoors.
- Encouraging your cat to come when called by offering a food treat.
- Making sure your cat is spayed or neutered to decrease the likelihood of wandering, mating, and fighting with other cats
- Maintaining regular vaccinations – these are of the utmost importance. Vaccinations help to provide protection against viral upper respiratory infections, which are extremely contagious in cats. They also protect against such fatal diseases as distemper, leukemia, and rabies.
- Ensuring regular examinations of fecal samples for parasite eggs, and regular deworming of cats who hunt to prevent internal parasitic infections.
- Preventing external parasites such as fleas with seasonal treatment (we can provide effective and easy-to-apply products).
- Never keeping poisons of any kind on your property where outdoor cats may be exposed to them – mouse/rat poison, slug bait, herbicides, pesticides, car antifreeze, and so on. Some of these compounds actually have an attractive taste to cats, and just a small amount may lead to organ failure or death.
- Permanently identifying your cat with a microchip (especially outdoor cats). Collars and tags may also be worn by outdoor cats to provide an additional identification source.
Some advantages of outdoor activity for cats include: decreased incidence of obesity, and decreased behavioral problems as they experience less perceived stress from confinement or the stress of multi-cat households.
We Recommend Keeping Cats Indoors
However, for most cats, we recommend keeping them indoors whenever possible. Indoor cats are much more likely to have a longer and healthier life.
Please see The Indoor Pet Initiative for information on environmental enrichment for cats, so that they can enjoy life indoors.