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Should I Keep My Cat Indoors?

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Should I Keep My Cat Indoors?

 

Dr. Justine Lee, PetMD

I’ve talked before about avoiding the “hit-by-car” emergency by keeping your dog or cat under control: either on a leash or by keeping them indoors.† I got a lot of grief from some feline owners and veterinarians when It’s a Catís World Ö You Just Live In It came out. Why? Because I stated my opinion: that cats should be kept indoors.

First, there are several medical reasons for why to keep your cats indoors. Let the statistics do the talking: the average outdoor cat lives to two years of age, while the indoor cat lives to a more geriatric age (approximately 15 to 18). So ultimately, it depends on how long you want to have your cat around.

As a veterinarian, Iíve seen too many cats succumb to the “trauma of outdoor living”: being mauled by dogs, maimed by cars, shot by BB guns, etc., only to have pet owners who couldnít afford to have them treated (resulting in euthanasia).

Next Page: risks for outdoor cats

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petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit petMD.com.

990 comments

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1:38PM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

I live in a city and I keep both my cats indoors. I get a lot of flack from other cat owners who think I am being unfair but I cannot bear the thought of coming home and finding my cats hurt or dead on the road. I take them out on a harness every week and I believe that they are happy. Having lost cats on the road when I was little I just could not cope with going through that again

1:38PM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

I live in a city and I keep both my cats indoors. I get a lot of flack from other cat owners who think I am being unfair but I cannot bear the thought of coming home and finding my cats hurt or dead on the road. I take them out on a harness every week and I believe that they are happy. Having lost cats on the road when I was little I just could not cope with going through that again

6:16AM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

Our former cats have almost all been outside, too, besides 3 out of 7 who were very old/sick, and Thori and Gizzy are pure indoor tomcats, but if you live parterre or have a house with a garden you kann hardly keep your kitties inside!

8:08AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I have been very fortunate. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is just under.a year. We do have monitored outings. I have one 8 year old that is very independent and was a stray when she found us. Actually all my babies were strays. I have 3 out of 5 that must go out. The oldest is finally an indoor cat and the youngest that just got fixed just doesn't care about the outdoors (since she has been fixed). All babies come in for the night as there are more dangers from wild animals that roam at nights. None of my cats have ever been sprayed by a skunk even though they live in my backyard. I have very well behaved cats who know where their love (and food) comes from. If the pet owners are responsible enough then short bursts of outdoor activity shouldn't hurt. I also have bird feeders in my yard. Good article though and I do agree that depending in the cat and owner, cats should be indoor.

8:07AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I have been very fortunate. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is just under.a year. We do have monitored outings. I have one 8 year old that is very independent and was a stray when she found us. Actually all my babies were strays. I have 3 out of 5 that must go out. The oldest is finally an indoor cat and the youngest that just got fixed just doesn't care about the outdoors (since she has been fixed). All babies come in for the night as there are more dangers from wild animals that roam at nights. None of my cats have ever been sprayed by a skunk even though they live in my backyard. I have very well behaved cats who know where their love (and food) comes from. If the pet owners are responsible enough then short bursts of outdoor activity shouldn't hurt. I also have bird feeders in my yard. Good article though and I do agree that depending in the cat and owner, cats should be indoor.

8:07AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I have been very fortunate. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is just under.a year. We do have monitored outings. I have one 8 year old that is very independent and was a stray when she found us. Actually all my babies were strays. I have 3 out of 5 that must go out. The oldest is finally an indoor cat and the youngest that just got fixed just doesn't care about the outdoors (since she has been fixed). All babies come in for the night as there are more dangers from wild animals that roam at nights. None of my cats have ever been sprayed by a skunk even though they live in my backyard. I have very well behaved cats who know where their love (and food) comes from. If the pet owners are responsible enough then short bursts of outdoor activity shouldn't hurt. I also have bird feeders in my yard. Good article though and I do agree that depending in the cat and owner, cats should be indoor.

8:07AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I have been very fortunate. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is just under.a year. We do have monitored outings. I have one 8 year old that is very independent and was a stray when she found us. Actually all my babies were strays. I have 3 out of 5 that must go out. The oldest is finally an indoor cat and the youngest that just got fixed just doesn't care about the outdoors (since she has been fixed). All babies come in for the night as there are more dangers from wild animals that roam at nights. None of my cats have ever been sprayed by a skunk even though they live in my backyard. I have very well behaved cats who know where their love (and food) comes from. If the pet owners are responsible enough then short bursts of outdoor activity shouldn't hurt. I also have bird feeders in my yard. Good article though and I do agree that depending in the cat and owner, cats should be indoor.

8:07AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

I have been very fortunate. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is just under.a year. We do have monitored outings. I have one 8 year old that is very independent and was a stray when she found us. Actually all my babies were strays. I have 3 out of 5 that must go out. The oldest is finally an indoor cat and the youngest that just got fixed just doesn't care about the outdoors (since she has been fixed). All babies come in for the night as there are more dangers from wild animals that roam at nights. None of my cats have ever been sprayed by a skunk even though they live in my backyard. I have very well behaved cats who know where their love (and food) comes from. If the pet owners are responsible enough then short bursts of outdoor activity shouldn't hurt. I also have bird feeders in my yard. Good article though and I do agree that depending in the cat and owner, cats should be indoor.

2:01AM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Eloquently said, Lorna. I've posted many times now about my cats, two of which are basically "inside" cats, and 3 who live in the garage. My daughter also lives on my property (in a 5th wheel that's the size of my house, almost) and she also has a cat, that is now 2 years old and until a month ago, had never been outside at all. She did venture out when the 5th wheel was first purchased and my daughter was moving her "things" from the motor home she'd been living in, to that. "Powder" went out into the yard to check the birds a bit more closely, as she'd only chattered to them from the dashboard of the motorhome before. She went about 20 feet and turned around and ran back to the door and wanted back in. It was a big, scarey world out there! She goes out every once in awhile now, but only when my daughter is working right outside, and never goes more than a few feet from the door. Same with my two "inside" cats. They want to be with me when I'm outside and if prevented from going out, they will sit and wait until the door is opened and then do whatever they can to run out and be out of reach until THEY decide they want back in. That's just a cat's nature and I long ago stopped trying to change that.

1:17PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

There are dangers in a village too, farming, pesticides etc; but to live without risk is not to live at all. Cats are naturally curious animals and indoors can never replace the outside no matter what you do. You can minimise the risks by keeping your cat in at night, neutering them and microchipping them. If its really dangerous where you live either don't get a cat or provide an outside run so they can at least have fresh air and a view other than the sofa! I live in East London, there is loads of traffic and other dangers but its quite rare for a neutered cat to get into a fight or to get run over. None of my cats have ever suffered due to going outside and I have had cats for the past 30 years! As a note I find de clawing disgusting. Its only done for the owner's convenience and takes away yet another natural behaviour of a cat which is to claw things. If you don't let them out don't complain if they claw your furniture. Its as natural to them as breathing.

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