7 Reasons to Keep Cats Inside

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on September 29, 2013.

I love cats. I have two of my own — one of whom is sleeping next to me while I write. I’ve had cats throughout my life, and  I’ll probably always have at least one feline companion. It’s a serious responsibility to be in charge of the welfare of another living being, 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 cat

Photo Credit: Dmitry Bayer/Unsplash

Outdoor cats can be in danger of serious injuries from cars, other animals, barbed wire fences, poison, traps and malicious individuals. 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, while indoor cats can reach 15 to 20 years in age. 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. His excessive sun exposure caused the cancer that ultimately killed him.

2. Fights

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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.

The 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.

3. Songbird conservation

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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 ecosystem, and it’s important to do our part to protect them.

4. Neighbor relations

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Not everyone loves cats — I know, I don’t know what’s wrong with them either. 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 litter box. On a low level, this could result in some neighborly tensions, but it might escalate into all-out war.

5. Runaways

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Sometimes cats run away from home They may get scared and then become lost and confused. Others may simply 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.

6. Theft

Even more chilling than running away: Sometimes beloved pets are stolen. Cats and dogs sometimes get snatched in schemes to get reward money, or to resell 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 ever use animals, those that do are legally required to carefully vet the source of their animals — but sadly, they aren’t always very diligent.

7. Malicious individuals

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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. 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 when Halloween approaches.

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?

Photo Credit: Erik Witsoe/Unsplash


hELEN habout a month ago


Renata B
Renata Babout a month ago

And I am really, really tired of all these ridiculous - unproved, totally invented - statements about how much cats suffer living indoors. These statements are as stupid and unfunded as those lame excuses of people to justify they continue to eat pieces of corpses. I heard the most amazing ones, like: if I don't eat animal products for some days my teeth become loose. Move your ass and go to see how indoors cats, who are loved and cherished live. Ask my vet and see if he thinks we are cruel to them. He often says that he would be very happy if everyone were looking after them as we do. Just get real for once and stop living in a fairy world of your own invention.

Renata B
Renata Babout a month ago

Nicole H: when I call my cats they always come. Our dog ... rarely moves and only if he thinks it's something important. The relationship with your cats depends on how close you are to them. If they come in just to eat, you can't expect them to be close. A dog wouldn't be if he/she came in just for food. If we consider the outdoors too dangerous to let a human toddler wonder outdoors alone, if we consider even to dangerous for a dog to wander outside alone, why on earth should a cat less in danger? Anyway, we built a catio for our cats to stay when they wish and I can assure you that they have never had sad eyes. Cats do have sad eyes when they are deprived of affection and are neglected as our latest addition had when we rescued. He never saw a litter tray in his life and spent his days in a communal garden exposed to all sorts of risks. Now he is scared even to go on the windowsill on the front of the house where cars can be seen. He only goes into the catio (in our garden) and on the windowsills at the back facing the garden. It is highly irresponsible and cruel to expose cats to so many dangers.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 months ago

Love the kitties

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer2 months ago

All good reasons.

Sue L
Sue L2 months ago

I have 5 indoor cats, I know they will all be safe and happy. We also have a 15 mth old puppy, who gets on with them all.

Shirley P
Shirley Plowman3 months ago


Latoya B
Latoya Brookins3 months ago

The people in my neighborhood (it's near an 8 lane street in a big city) don't even keep their dogs inside. I always see a ton of dogs just wandering around without supervision.

Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx3 months ago

I refer to my previous comment, and would like to add the following. A dog is much more domesticated than a cat is. When I called any of my dogs, they jumped out of their sleeping / resting place and immediately stood next to my feet. When I called any of my cats, I could stand there, calling them again for 2 or 3 times, and if it was not my lucky day, I saw nobody. A cat is much more INDEPENDENT, they do not want to be bothered or commanded, they hate having to move to another place because if she is lying right at the spot where you still have to clean the floor at that location, or get something out of a cupboard. no doubt she will show us how enthusiastic she is. If she really had just a bad dream, pay attention, her claws are very sharp. Of course she is also very cute, playful, and happy to be around you but only WHEN SHE WANTS IT. She is much more a free spirit than a dog is. Therefore, it is NOT fair to keep your cat inside your apartment or house, when their heart longs to see the sky, feel the sun or the rain, and meet members of her family. Isn't it strange that we cry out our hearts and souls because farm animals are not living in the green pastures anymore, but we don't allow our cats to roam around and play with others. When I see a cat behind a window, staring outside with very sad eyes, I am full of compassion for this loving creature. Of course nobody wants his cat to be hurt by a car of even a bicycle

Judith Blish
Judith Blish3 months ago

I live in a city, in a square with two parks and under a leafy hill. Traffic has to come around a sharp corner to get to it. I am on the ground floor. My cats have chosen to live here, I had little to say about it. They go out when they like and come in when they like. One of my dearest lived 23 years; most make it to 14 or 15 at least, unless they have arrived with pre-existing conditions. Even so, one FIV cat arrived at 10 , got some treatment and stayed with me for 5 more years. Even with the windows grated over, I have only to open to door to step out and there is fur traffic at my feet. No way to keep them in without cages. Birds have learned!