I love cats. I have two of my own (one of whom is sleeping next to me while I write), and I’ve had cats throughout my life — and probably always will have at least one feline companion. It’s a serious responsibility to be in charge of the welfare of another living thing, though, which is why I do my utmost to make sure my cats are healthy and happy. One way I do that? I keep them indoors.
There’s a lot of controversy over the great indoor versus outdoor debate, but to me, there’s no question: cats are happier and healthier indoors, and so is the community. Indoor living doesn’t have to be dull, either.
If you’re not quite convinced, here are six great reasons to keep your kitties indoors:
1. Risk of injury or disease
Outdoor cats can in danger of serious injuries from cars, other animals (about which more in a moment), things they encounter in the landscape (barbed wire fences, for example, along with poison and traps), and malicious individuals (we’ll also talk about those in a moment). Furthermore, cats roaming outdoors can pick up bacteria and viruses, and you can’t vaccinate for everything. Think it doesn’t make a big difference? Outdoor cats usually live for two to three years.
Indoor cats? 15-20. (My late great beloved Mr. Bell passed away at 18 — and probably would have lived longer if he hadn’t been allowed out as a younger cat, resulting in excessive sun exposure that caused the cancer which ultimately killed him.)
Cats are territorial, but they can’t take on everything. They can get into scraps with dogs, other cats, raccoons, mountain lions and more. Your cat may not always come out on top — worst case scenario is that your cat disappears and you never find out what happened, but you might also find a body in the morning, or have a cat limp home with severe injuries that ultimately prove fatal or require expensive veterinary care.
2. Songbird conservation
While cats aren’t quite the vicious predators they’ve been made out to be, they also aren’t great for the local bird population. If you live along a migratory bird path or close to a nature area, your cat will be on the hunt, to the detriment of your feathered friends. Birds are an important part of the ecology, and it’s important to do our part to preserve them.
3. Neighbor relations
Not everyone loves cats (I know, I don’t know what’s wrong with them either), and some neighbors get upset by cats in their gardens or around their houses, especially if they love songbirds and identify the cats as a threat. Gardeners in particular tend to get irked with feline visitors, since cats love to use freshly-tilled beds of clean soil as a litterbox. On a low level, this could result in some neighborly tensions, but it might escalate into all-out war.
Sometimes cats run away from home; they’re scared, they get lost and confused, they want to strike out and explore something new, or they’ve decided to start two-timing on you. (Hey, it happens.) Having a cat disappear is always heartbreaking, and even if your cat is tagged and chipped, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be reunited.
Even more chilling than running away: sometimes beloved pets are stolen. Cats and dogs are sometimes stolen in schemes to get reward money, or for resale if they’re exotic breeds. Some are sold to research labs, where they may be tortured in the name of scientific research. While no labs should be using animals ever, those that do are legally required to carefully vet the source of their animals…but sadly, they aren’t always very diligent.
6. Malicious individuals
Cats in particular tend to attract abuse from humans. Your cat may be tortured or killed by people who think it’s fun to hurt animals, and that’s something you definitely don’t want to happen. This sadly is even more common for black cats; the poor creatures are still regarded with superstition and hatred, especially in October (if you learn nothing else from this article, please keep your black cats indoors in October). Cruel people don’t care that a cat is a living being with feelings and emotions, and they definitely don’t care that they’re hurting another human being by harming a beloved member of the family.
I think these are pretty convincing reasons to keep your furry friend inside, don’t you?
Lead photo credit: zaimoku_woodpile, Post photo credits: Thinkstock