Should You Let Your Cat Outside? Pros and Cons
Can my cat be happy indoors? Should I let her roam freely outside? Should a kitten be allowed outside? Read on and discover answers to these questions, and much more.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are 74 million pets cats in the States, making them the country’s most popular pet.
This may sound unusual since, in the movies, people usually have dogs as family pets, right?
The majority of these cats are kept indoors, while others are allowed to spend time outside and come and go as they please.
With a high number of injured and cats killed in accidents, this practice has become a growing controversy in recent years.
Should You Let Your Cat Outside?
Cats enjoy unrestricted freedom. While some cats are fine with staying all day at home, others would use every opportunity to run through the front door into the wild.
Some would say that some cats are bigger adventures than the others, but the truth is that cats are highly curious, because they are natural explorers.
Cats are easily intrigued and stimulated by the new smells, sounds, tastes, and textures they may encounter outside, including insects, birds, other cats, even the plants, and the play of light and shadow.
Letting cats going outside from the time may not sound like a wrong move for some. However, a 2012 study by the University of Georgia and National Geographic found that U.S. cats could kill as many as 4 billion birds and small mammals a year.
In 2013, similar research by the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded the real numbers were even higher.
The majority of these animal deaths are directly linked to feral cats or stray cats. A 2013 study notes that domestic cats allowed to roam outdoors “still cause substantial wildlife mortality.”
So, outdoor cats are nearly three times as likely to become infected with pathogens or parasites than indoor-only kitties, according to a study from April 2019.
So if your cat seems interested in venturing out, or waits at the door, it’s worth considering some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of the outdoor life.
What Are The Benefits Of Letting Your Cat Outside?
- Outdoor cats have more opportunities to get physical activity through running, jumping, climbing, or simply from exploring.
- Outdoor cats are also free to engage in instinctive behavior, such as stretching.
- The outdoor environment offers numerous opportunities for cats to explore.
Outdoor cats use a natural litter, and they may spend hours simply sitting in the garden, or hiding in the grass.
What Are The Risks Of Letting Your Cat Outside?
- Busy roads are the number one danger for cats. Even on a quiet road, cat be hurt
- Cats are also at risk of hiding under the bonnet of a car
- The cat may wander too far and get lost. Putting her a collar may increase the chances of finding her
- Your cat may encounter an aggressive animal
- Outdoor cats are more exposed to contracting infectious diseases
- Outdoor cats are much exposed to toxic substances
- Some common garden flowers and plants may be toxic for cats
- Your cat may be trapped somewhere
As mentioned earlier, outdoor cats are more exposed to common parasites such as worms and ticks. Also, outdoor cats are more exposed to certain diseases.
Common diseases in outdoor cats are:
- Feline Leukemia
- Feline AIDS
- Upper respiratory infections
There are many clear benefits to letting your cat outside, including increased physical activity, natural surroundings, and space for instinctive cat behavior, such as exploring.
On the other hand, there are definite risks that include cars, other animals, disease, parasites, and toxic products or plants across the garden.
Of course, there are several different places where your cat can simply be trapped.
Assessing Your Cat’s Potential Outdoor Environment
It is important to think carefully about your cat’s outdoor environment. You need to think about your cat’s safety and ask yourself basic questions, such as:
- How far am I from the closest road?
- Does my garden has any type of toxic plants that may hurt my cat?
- Keep my garden keep any aggressive animal away if my cat hides?
- What kind of plants do I have in my garden?
- Are there any dogs next door?
- What is my family schedule? Will someone is at home when my cat feels scared and wants to enter the house?
- Can I install cat door?
These questions and many others are important to ask yourself if you consider this vital lifestyle change for your cat.
Choosing To Let My Cat Outside
So, you have weighed the benefits and drawbacks of letting your cat outside, and you are ready to let your cat go and explore the world? Before you open the door to your feline and let her jump into the unknown, there are some things that you should know first.
Did you know that you can optimize your cat’s outdoor experience and keep her healthy and safe? Here is how.
- Make sure that your cat has all vaccinations
- Treat your cat regularly with flea, worming, and tick medication
- Microchip your cat
- Neuter or spay your cat
- If you live near a road, try not to let your cat go out during high traffic
- Encourage your cat to come in at dusk, by placing the food in front of the house
- See with your neighbors if your cat is using their garden
- Remove any dangerous chemical products from the garden
- Plant a cat-friendly garden. Lavender is a must
What About Kittens? Should You Let Kittens Do Outside?
You probably know that kittens should stay with their mom for at least two months until you can send them in their forever loving home. However, if you decide to keep the kittens, you must know that they love exploring the world.
Everything is new for them, and they will try to spend every second learning something new. Still, you shouldn’t let kittens fo on their own and explore the world.
The chances are meager that kittens would be bored in the early stage of life. The indoor world will be massive for small kittens, and it will offer more than enough space for exploration, while the outdoor world is too big.
Make sure that your kitten goes through the vaccination schedule, that you provide the right kitten food, and offer enough support for mother in post-natal care because it can affect how well your kitten will be raised.
If you want to provide your cat a bit more fun, than indoor activities, but you want to keep her safe, you should think about venturing outside safely.
Venture Outside Safely
If your cat craves outdoor time and wants her to be safe, think about letting her outside under supervision. This shouldn’t be an issue if you have a backyard or a countryside house.
However, if your living area is urban and there are potentially aggressive animals, you should consider installing a window hammock.
Cats aren’t fans of long walks, especially as if they were dogs, but they can adjust to wearing a harness and walking on a leash – some simply require more training than others.
Although many cats would hate to walk like dogs, many may enjoy exploring the backyard, soaking in the sun, or quietly nibbling on grass.
Another way to provide your feline some outdoors is to give her access to a screened-in porch or another enclosed outdoor space like a catio.
If you insist that your cat should freely roam outdoors, make sure he’s microchipped and wearing a collar with identification tags. Again: be sure your cat is up to date on flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventatives.
The Bottom Line
Cat lovers know how difficult it can be to forbid your cat, which could bring them joy and happiness. Yet again, sometimes something must be forbidden if it means that the health will be better, and their lives saved.
Cats are naturally explored, and they love exploring new areas and learning about the world by sniffing around. Still, being outdoors isn’t the best option for felines, because most of them end up severely damaged or unfortunately dead.
If you want to let your cat wander outside, do it in the safest way possible. Train your cat to have regular walks and be comfortable on a leash.
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