Indoor or Outdoor Cat?
The Pros and Cons
It’s a current controversy that has cat lovers on both sides of the fence. Should we allow our cats outside, and what are the consequences if we do? Some cat experts believe that domestic cats lead a happier life if they’re allowed outdoor freedom. They think it’s cruel to keep cats confined to the indoors. Please consider these pros and cons before you decide.
Australian cats have no natural predators, although they can be taken by dingoes and wedge-tailed eagles. We have a friend who had a young and healthy cat that ‘vanished’ one sunny afternoon, and the pain and guilt the owner felt were indescribable.
There are good reasons to allow your cat outdoors. They’re usually better behaved after their outdoor adventures – less likely to urinate in the house, claw the furniture or stalk little humans and/or other pets. In other words they’re less bored. An added bonus is that they are also leaner and less dependent on their pet parents.
On the other hand, outdoor cats live shorter lives than indoor cats. There’s a cat bully in every neighbourhood, to say nothing of the dangers of traffic, dogs and even sadistic humans. Given their curious nature, cats will explore new and sometimes dangerous places such as garden sheds and garages where they can become trapped. They’ve even been known to jump into open windowed vehicles and be driven many kilometres away from home.
And then there’s our feral cat problem. Any interaction with those cats can result in infections such as FIV (cat HIV), leukemia and parasitic fleas and ticks.
Indoor only cats have their problems too. They have a very small territory and are easily stressed by new people, new pets or even new furniture! They’re easily bored which can lead to spraying the curtains or scratching the furniture. And they are creatures of prey, and as such, they may stalk and strike out at other pets and small children in the family.
For some pet parents, there is no decision to be made. Their cats will remain indoors and that’s that. But there are options that will make both you and your kitty happy.
The Best of Both Worlds
The first is supervised outdoor playtime. Buy a long retractable leash and harness and let your cat explore the backyard while you supervise her. Provide her with some outdoor toys such as batt-able wind chimes and a real wood scratching post, a child’s slide with stairs or even a wooden jungle gym to climb. She’ll love her outdoor exercise time!
It is possible to train cats to walk on a leash. Some take to it better than others, and the older the cat the less likely the success, but it’s worth a try. Optimally, start when they’re kittens and you should have no problems. Remember – cats’ minds operate differently than dogs’ do, so keep your walks fairly short, and be prepared to carry your kitty back home should she decide this walk is over!
We think it’s best to take the middle road with our cats – indoors at night where they are safe, and supervised outdoor play/exercise time in the daytime. After all, keeping them out of harm’s way, happy and healthy is our main goal!
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