We at Custom Catios feel strongly that the answer is a big fat NO, but that’s the question Camille Schake asks at Good Pet Parent (hat tip to the highly recommended Facebook group, Kitty Gardens, Catios, House Cats And Catification). The article admits that the question “stirs a lively debate” on both sides. Those who support outdoor roaming cats believe keeping cats indoors is cruel, while indoor cat supporters argue that health and safety take precedence.
Risks to Outdoor Cats
Schake states that “due to the sheer volume of potentially dangerous situations,” the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 5 to 10 years longer than outdoor cats. Note, as we wrote in our post, Catio Cats Live Longer Happier Lives, we believe the life expectancy gap is even larger. In any case, according to the piece, risks to outdoor cats include:
- Being hit by a car
- Being attacked by wild predators including coyotes
- Getting into fights with other cats, which can cause severe injuries and abscesses
- Being attacked by dogs
- Exposure to contagious diseases
- Picking up and spreading parasites
- Becoming trapped in garages or sheds and being unable to get out
- Exposure to toxins such as antifreeze and rat poison
- Getting stuck in trees
- Exposure to toxic pesticides/herbicides sprayed on lawns and gardens
- Sunburn and skin cancer (especially in white or light-colored cats)
- Hypothermia/freezing to death
- Becoming trapped in a leghold trap meant for wildlife.
- Animal cruelty. Sadly, cats who are outdoors are always at risk from humans who wish to harm, poison, torture, even kill them.
Risks to Indoor Cats
Here, the author goes a bit easy on the indoor only risks:
- An increased risk of obesity (which can lead to diabetes) due to lack of exercise.
- Boredom, which can cause the cat to engage in destructive behavior like clawing furniture.
- A higher risk of cats in multi-cat households developing territorial aggression issues.
All true, but it leaves out stress-relieving behaviors, such as over grooming, chewing inappropriate items, retreating into isolation, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior, and loss of appetite.
The Best of Both Worlds
Luckily, according to Schake, there are two ways to safely bring the great outdoors to your cat, including training your cat to walk on a leash and creating a catio or outdoor enclosure. We are obviously advocates for the latter remedy! Wherever you fall on the great cat debate, we strongly recommend the article which also includes a must read section on keeping your indoor cat happy.
(Photo is of Lando Catrissian)