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This is the most heated cat debate I have come across. Do you keep your cats indoors or outdoors? 

I am a member of a lot of cat groups on Facebook (shocker), I encounter many people while volunteering and I also talk with plenty of cat owners, both online and in my day-to-day life. One thing that always pops up that no-one seems to be able to agree on is whether your cat should be an indoor or an outdoor one.

In the US indoor cats are more common whereas only about 15% of cats are kept indoors in the UK and in this post I am going to look at both sides of the coin and give my preference, just to get all the arguments out there and look at things as objectively as I can. I have always found this cat debate interesting because it is always from passionate cat owners who believe one way or another, and a lot of times things get heated. I don’t think it will ever be formally resolved and there are always exceptions to the rules but here is my take on indoor vs outdoor cats.

Reasons To Keep Your Cat Indoors

Starting with indoor cats, there are plenty of reasons to keep your cat indoors and it is primarily to do with safety. Although there is a number of reasons, here are a few main points:

  • Medical reasons e.g. FIV positive cats, those with mobility issues
  • Reduced risk of traffic accidents
  • Increased control over food consumption
  • Reduced risk of contractable diseases and parasites
  • Flats or extreme urban living
  • The law – in some countries, cats need to be kept indoors otherwise they are considered strays.

Because of the reduced risks mentioned, indoor cats live longer on average and keeping cats indoors can help avoid issues with your neighbours. This is because cats aren’t straying into their gardens, potentially digging or toileting as well as interacting with other animals. Remember that not everyone likes cats and unfortunately, some have been known to poison cats just to keep them away. One point to note: It’s important that your cat should be neutered and kept up to date with vaccinations, even if you keep them inside.

indoor cat lying down - cat debate indoor vs outdoor

The Downside

  • Prone to weight gain
  • They need more stimulation or they get bored and exhibit more scratching or bad behaviours
  • Prone to stress and anxiety
  • Smaller properties can leave them feeling trapped
  • Increased need to change the litter tray
  • They can get lonely if they have no companion or you are working a lot

The main drawback to keeping cats inside is negative health impacts that can affect behaviour. Indoor cats require more work because they need entertaining environments, exercise and stimulation that they would normally receive in an outdoor or natural habitat. Otherwise, indoor cats can become lethargic, fat and stressed!

cat being stroked - cat debate indoor vs outdoor

Reasons To Let Your Cat Outdoors

The other side of the cat debate is usually geared towards natural instinct and predatory behaviour and includes reasons such as:

  • Expresses natural instincts
  • To avoid some bad behaviours, giving in to predatory instincts outside avoids issues in the home
  • Reduces stress
  • Allows them a diverse environment
  • Accommodates healthy exercise needs
  • Aids in rodent control
  • Personal space

All outdoor cats specifically need to be microchipped, neutered and up to date with their vaccinations.

outdoor cat near marina, cat debate

The Downside

  • Safety risks e.g. car accidents, poisoning (accidental and deliberate)
  • Diseases
  • Lost or stolen
  • Parasites
  • Shorter average lifespan

*More injuries and accidents happen at night so if you let your cat outdoors you should consider bringing them in at night. 

outdoor cat in field. the great cat debate

Where I Stand

This is my opinion:

I have owned indoor and outdoor cats. With some situations (a top floor flat) requiring indoor cat care and others (such as now) where we have a garden space and quiet road, allowing for outdoor cats. The world is a dangerous place and I love my cats but I believe they should be allowed to exhibit their natural behaviours so given the option, I let my cats outside. I believe they should have some freedom and I treat them, in the same way, I do my children, let them play, have fun and explore the world but with boundaries.

Cats who are kept indoors can suffer from a variety of mental health problems including stress and anxiety if not looked after properly and I think that is the problem for many owners. They cannot give indoor cats the increased amount of attention and stimulation in order for them to be healthy so they use the outside as a tool to help. That being said, a lot of the time, cats will decide for themselves. Our cats can go days without going outside (particularly in the winter) and then be out all day long so we mustn’t forget that cats have individual preferences too and I don’t recommend forcing them one way or the other!

I think the most important part is care and love, I don’t think owners who keep their cats inside are “bad” or “hate their cats” in the same way that outdoor cat owners “want their cats to die” and I think it is important for people to respect others’ wishes! So ultimately, I am for letting cats outside when the circumstances are right (bring on the haters)

Feel free to wade in on this cat debate if I have left anything out and leave comments expressing yourself one way or the other but try to leave respectful and insightful opinions (trolls will be deleted!) 

For more information on Indoor and Outdoor cats: 

Check out my Indoor Cat Care Tips

Alternatively, visit my Outdoor Cat Care Tips

This concludes Day 7 of #CatWeek2017, for the other days, check out the Cat Week Home Page.


You may also like these Pinterest Boards:

Cat in the grass. The great cat debate, should I keep my cat indoors or outdoors? The pros and cons for each as well as my viewpoint

13 comments on “Indoor Vs Outdoor – The Great Cat Debate”

  1. I own two cats, both were rescued from being outside – one we found almost starved to death, the other was threatened by a neighbor, so we took him in. Both are now complete indoor cats, but we do have a “cat porch” meaning an enclosure, that is as close to being outside without being actually outside as possible. Once we move, we will be building a larger enclosure, so that they will get even more of the best of both worlds. That is our compromise on the issue. Blessings!

  2. We have two cats that are 100% indoor. They might get to step outside and lounge on our back patio with us but beyond that they are strictly indoor. We actually live right on a mountain with coyotes so it wouldn’t be safe for them to be outside.

  3. My cats were always indoor cats because back in the day, when it was ok to declaw your cats, we did that. I didn’t want my cat to be defenseless against the neighborhood dogs. If I had a cat now, I wouldn’t declaw him and being outside should be fine.

  4. There are definitely different reasons to keep a cat indoors or allow them outdoors. I think these are all valid and very important to take note of. It’s a huge debate but at the end of the day, we do what’s best for our fur babies.

  5. Most people I know have indoor cats. We have a few strays( well, they might be outdoor cats now that I ‘ve read your post) but they seem ok.

  6. I’ve never owned a cat but I suspect if I did it would be an indoor cat. You’ve done a great job of outlining all the pros and cons of both indoor and outdoor cats.

  7. Interesting. I honestly didn’t even realize there was a debate about this. I don’t own pets, so I guess I never gave it much thought. I think I would come down on the keep the cat indoors. If the cat is part of the family, then in the house it stays.

  8. Most people I know keep their cats indoors. There are a lot a wild/feral cats in this area, so it’s probably best to keep pets away from those kinds of cats anyways.

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