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Indoor cat vs. outdoor cat : What are the differences?

Are you planning to welcome a cat in your home? If so, you will not only have to choose your future companion according to his breed, his sex or his temperament. The question of going outdoors should be seriously considered.

You must determine whether or not your cat will be able to go outdoors.

What are the advantages of letting your cat walk freely? Do house cats have a longer life expectancy? The question is then the following: indoor cat vs. outdoor cat, which lifestyle has the most advantages?

Very often, having an outside access is not possible. It is complicated for an apartment cat to go outside.

Many cats insist on going outside to get some fresh air once or twice a day.

These cats have developed a close bond with nature and have always had the opportunity and habit of going outside. They are in the active cat category.

Indoor Cat Vs. Outdoor Cat: A Question of Personality

When weighing the pros and cons of indoor and outdoor life for your cat, you need to remember two things first.

First, like people, every cat is different. It has its own personality and preferences. That’s why what’s right for one cat may not be right for yours.

For example, if you have adopted a stray cat that has wandered off, it will probably want to go outside.

On the other hand, if your cat has had previous traumatic experiences with other animals, he may be less inclined to venture outside again.

A young cat that has never been outside your apartment may or may not feel the call of the outside world.

Second, there is no “right” or “wrong” position in the outdoor-indoor debate.

Indoor and outdoor cats can live fulfilling, satisfying and happy lives provided you have taken practical steps to make the indoor or outdoor environment as safe and stimulating as possible for your cat.

Many cats will want to go outside, especially if they have tasted the freedom of the outdoors.

Other more shy cats will be suspicious and will not want to venture into an unfamiliar environment rich in unusual sensory experiences.

That said, cats tend to be curious and are naturally explorers. Cats are easily intrigued and stimulated by the countless fascinating sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells they may encounter outdoors, including insects, light and shade, rodents, birds and plants.

If your cat seems to want to venture outdoors or is waiting with envy at the door, you should think about some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of living outdoors.

Indoor Cat Vs. Outdoor Cat: Does the Breed Matter?

Whether or not your feline is in the outdoor cat category or not, it generally depends on its breed.

Nature lovers such as Norwegians or Maine Coon cats want their freedom and therefore the possibility to go outside. Active cat breeds such as the Bengal are also happy to let off steam in the open air.

On the other hand, British Shorthair and Persian cats are among the cats with a rather quiet nature, which will be quite suitable for living in an apartment. *

The Devon Rex belongs to the breeds of cats that are typically described as indoor cats or apartment cats. Due to their sparse coat, they are very sensitive to the cold.

Indoor cat vs. outdoor cat: Maine Coons are more of an outdoor cat

Maine Coons are more of an outdoor cat – Photo by Юрий Сидоренко from Pixabay

Indoor Cat Vs. Outdoor Cat: A Question of Security

Is it safe to let your cat frolic outside? This is a question that many cat owners ask themselves.

The risk of injury will naturally be more or less important, depending on the environment around your home.

Do you live on a busy street? Then the risk of collision with a car is high!

In addition, cat lovers living in the country should inquire about the potential existence of a hunting ground nearby and the presence of large predators such as foxes or eagles.

And don’t forget that poisoned bait is also fatal for cats! Apartment cats or outdoor cats, both are vulnerable as soon as they leave the house!

If you think it is too risky for your cat to walk outside, you can offer it small, safe outings in an outdoor enclosure or on a secure balcony, using safety nets for example.

This last option is particularly suitable for apartment cats living in the city and for cats of a quiet nature.

Furthermore, walking your house cat or outdoor cat on the end of a cat leash is much safer. But walking your cat on a leash takes practice!

If you skip the steps, your feline may get tangled up with the leash, or worse, injure himself because of his nervousness.

A cat’s body is not as stable as that of a dog. That’s why you should choose harnesses over collars, so that you can catch your cat in case of an accident without hurting him.

Harnesses in the form of a vest are particularly suitable, since they distribute the pulling force better on the cat’s back and chest, without being uncomfortable.

There is not much difference in terms of safety between indoor and outdoor cats. The risk factor depends mainly on your living conditions.

Indoor Cat Vs. Outdoor Cat: What About Health?

Before an apartment cat or outdoor cat can enjoy going outdoors, you must have taken it to the veterinarian.

The veterinarian will show you the necessary vaccines for your cat and may also prescribe antiparasitic products for cats to protect them against fleas and ticks.

Outdoor cats should also be vaccinated against feline cold and feline influenza.

You will need to regularly make sure that your adventurous cat is not infested with worms, especially if there are elderly people or children in your household.

The use of tick-preventive products is absolutely essential! If you have any questions, ask your veterinarian, he will be able to inform and advise you.

It is useful to point out that only sterilized cats should be allowed to go out unsupervised.

Even if adorable little kittens would make you crack, seriously ask yourself if you could find a good home for all the little kittens of a possible litter.

As an indication, in ten years, a couple of cats can be the source of 80 million births, if we also consider the reproduction of their offspring.

The castration or sterilization of the cat consists of a small intervention that protects your cat from unwanted reproductions.

In summary: Outdoor activities are good for your cat’s health, as long as you provide your cat with all the protection it needs: vaccinations, preventative parasiticides and spaying and neutering.

Cat Walking Outside

If you let your cat walk outside, protect it from parasites and have it spayed or neutered – Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay

Indoor Cat Vs. Outdoor Cat: Coat Care

It’s not all about your cat’s health… Long-haired or densely coated cats need more care if they go outdoors.

It mainly depends on your cat’s habits: if he loves to prowl in the undergrowth, you will have to resort to the use of a comb and a brush.

Take advantage of combing your cat to inspect its body for ticks and fleas. If you ever find them, get rid of them before they settle in!

If you find ticks that are already firmly attached to your cat’s skin, remove them using a tick hook or tick remover.

Outdoor cats often don’t like to look like cats straight out of a show ring. It’s up to you to find the right balance during their brushing session!

A Different Diet for Indoor or Outdoor Cats?

Outdoor cats have higher energy needs than their indoor counterparts.

On the other hand, they are more exposed to the risk of disease. Adventurous cats should eat a food specially designed for outdoor cats.

If your cat frolics freely in the neighborhood, it will gladly accept treats – more or less healthy – that your neighbors will offer it!

It is often difficult for cat owners to know what and where their pet has eaten.

In many cases, the bowl of kibble or food that you serve him remains full, since your cat finds that the neighbors’ food tastes better.

This phenomenon is particularly problematic if you feed your cat specific types of kibble.

The best thing to do then is to go see your neighbors and ask them nicely to stop feeding your cat, for medical reasons.

If your cat is a budding mouse hunter, the problem is not going to be solved anytime soon…

Leaving your Cat Indoors: Pros and Cons

Once you have studied the pros and cons of an outdoor environment for your cat, you can decide if it is better for him to stay indoors.

This is a perfectly legitimate decision. Remember, you are the best person to know what is best for your cat given your environment and its needs.

However, there are advantages and disadvantages to keeping your cat indoors that you should be aware of.

You will feel better if you make an informed decision and you will probably communicate this positive attitude to your cat and other family members.

In addition, if you are aware of the potential drawbacks of being an indoor cat, you will be able to put in place certain measures that will allow your indoor cat to be happy, healthy and stimulated throughout its life.

Pros of Leaving your Cat Indoors

Your cat is less likely to contract infectious diseases or parasites, and your cat is much less likely to get lost or be hit by a car.

Your cat is protected from attacks by other animals, especially other cats.

Cons of Leaving your Cat Indoors

Your cat can get frustrated if he can’t give free rein to his instinctive behaviour such as exploring or scratching almost without limits.

This frustration can stress your cat and lead to behavioral problems. He may scratch and damage your furniture, not use his litter box and urinate where he is not supposed to.

You will therefore need to provide him with a space where he will be able to engage in these activities without causing damage and power it with adapted equipment, such as a cat tree for example, where he will be able to explore and scratch at will without messing up your precious sofa.

Consider adopting a second cat at home to provide a playmate for your little feline. This will stimulate him/her while you are away.

Indoors, your cat generally has fewer opportunities and less space to be physically active and is more likely to gain weight.

Some cats may become bored, which can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as obesity, diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Your cat will be more dependent on you for stimulation and, in your absence, will have more difficulty getting by than an outdoor cat.

You may find it difficult to keep your cat from going outside, especially if there are children in the house.

If your cat runs away, it will probably be disoriented and frightened outside.

It’s Up to You to Make your Choice: Indoor Cat or Outdoor Cat?

After reviewing all the advantages and disadvantages of the indoor and outdoor lifestyle, one question arises: What are the benefits for your cat?

Domestic cats resemble their wild ancestors, both physically and mentally. They are small predators that like to let off steam and take up challenges. That’s exactly what going outdoors allows them to do.

Of course, your cat should only be allowed outdoors if the place is suitable, i.e., if it is safe enough.

To make your decision, take into account your cat’s living conditions and the requirements of his breed or character.

Final Words

Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat? What do you think are the pros and cons of each type of cat? What do you prefer? Feel free to express yourself below!

Outdoor Cat Photo by Sa Ka from Pixabay

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Indoor Cat Vs Outdoor Cat

About the Author

Skye

A girl from Scotland who's in love with cats! I love to share tips on how to take care of our beloved furry friends.

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