The debate on keeping cats in or allowing them out is a real ‘cat fight’


When it comes to cats, there’s one debate that has been around a long time and still shows no sign of resolution. Should cats be indoors only or allowed to go outside?

While the majority of those in rescue stand on the side of “indoors only;" there are cat owners who feel just the opposite. They take the position that the instinctive nature of cats is stymied when they are kept inside. Therefore, cats must be allowed to roam.


If you’re on the fence about keeping your cat in or letting it out, consider that keeping your cat inside, protects it from:

  • Diseases transmitted by other cats, such as Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids and Feline distemper (panleukopenia) - although there are vaccinations for these diseases - and upper respiratory infections, to name a few.

  • Parasites, including fleas, ear mites, ticks, which can be picked up by roaming cats.

  • Predators, dogs for one, and depending on where you live, there may be coyotes, raccoons and foxes, which can prey on cats. Also, humans can be very cruel to cats. It’s not uncommon to hear of a cat being shot by a BB gun or even an arrow. Roaming cats have been trapped and subject to other terrible abuses by humans.

  • Toxins, such as antifreeze, can fatally harm an outdoor cat. Cats may even eat a rodent that has ingested rat poison.

  • Trees, which can be a lure for a cat, who then finds themselves stuck for many days until help comes. Left in a tree for several days, a cat can become severely dehydrated and even so weak that they fall from the tree.

  • Fights with other cats, which can lead to abscesses.


Indoor cat proponents also argue that other critters are safer when cats are kept indoors since outdoor cats may prey on birds and other small animals. Who hasn’t had their cat bring home a ‘present’ of a small rodent at some time or another to get praise from mom or dad?


The case for the great outdoors

The pro-outdoor cat folks have their own arguments. For one, there are some cats that become stressed when they aren’t allowed to roam. These cats need to be outdoors to engage in natural hunting activities, and no amount of indoor play will sufficiently fulfill this need. Being indoors without sufficient playtime can also lead to cats becoming overweight. Outdoor cats are able to burn more calories running and playing outdoors.

Making the decision

The longevity of your cat suggests that indoors is the safer bet and statistics bear this out. Fetch by Webmd says, “Cats who are kept indoors can reach the ripe old age of 17 or more years, whereas outdoor cats live an average of just two to five years. Another reason for indoor cats’ longevity is that it’s easier for their owners to identify health problems early, before they become life threatening.


If you cat begs to go out and you don’t want to take the risk, a catio might be the solution, which gives your cat access to the outdoors in an safe enclosure. You also may keep your cat indoors most of the time and allow it outdoors under supervision. Some people even walk their cat on a leash. It just may be the solution if you can get your cat accustomed to the harness.

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